A soft-spoken young man from the Navodaya arsenal stepped into the directorial arena of Malayalam cinema two and-a-half decades ago. The characters he introduced through his maiden movie had the stamp of ease on th em and the movie - `Mutharamkunnu PO’-is still enjoyable as it is well paced, with its share of comical moments. Characters like Fayalwan Kochu Kuttan Pillai, Dileep Kumar, Devanand, Amminikutty, Nakulan and Sahadevan along with wrestler Dhara Singh and even actor Mammootty were part of that fun ride. Though the movie was not a big hit, it marked the beginning of a splendid career for Sibi Malayil who is into 25 years as director. Be it an intelligent satire with flavour of `salt mango tree’ like `Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam,’ or the haunting tale of Balan Master in `Thaniyavarthanam’, the heart-touching father- son relationship in `Kireedam’ or Rajeevan’s craving for love in `Dasaratham,’ the director has adopted a unique method of story telling.
Says director Priyadarsan: “When we were working together for the movie ‘Padayottam’ as assistant directors, we used to spend hours on end at the Malampuzha Park during off-hours. Then I told Sibi that we don’t know who would be doing a movie first. Whoever it may be, he should include the other one in the crew’’.
It was Priyadarsan who did the movie first. And certainly, Sibi Malayil happily assisted Priyadarsan in directing the movie `Poochakkoru Mookkuthy.’ Remembers ace comedian Jagathy Sreekumar: “I still remember Sibi Malayil on the sets of `Poochakkoru Mookkuthy.’ I used to wonder how such a soft-spoken and calm person could direct a movie. But while working with him in his first movie 1`Mutharamkunnu PO,’ I realised that my thinking was wrong.’’ After `Mutharamkunnu PO’ and `Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam,’ he joined hands with Lohithadas to make `Thaniyavarthanam.’ The Sibi Malayil-Lohithadas duo turned out to be one of the most successful director- writer combination in Malayalam cinema. It was for the role in their movie `Bharatham’ that Mohanlal won the national award for the first time. The duo were also behind the first three movies produced by Lal’s home production Pranavam arts-`His Highness Abdullah,’ `Bharatham’ and `Kamaladalam.’ Adds veteran actor Nedumudi Venu: “Either Abdullah, Bharatham, Santhwanam or Thaniyavarthanam, Sibi Malayil’s movies always revolve around emotions, relationships and the perplexity of life.” But the director also has successfully crafted action movies like `August-1’ and `Usthad’ adding to his versatility. And to whom he would like to credit his success in the career? “Of course, the first name is Navodaya Appachan who is my mentor and guide who taught me the basics of film making.
Then come directors Jijo, Fazil and Priyadarsan,” says Sibi Malayil.
With 40 movies in his kitty, the director is planning his new venture.
This time he is teaming up with young actors Nishanth, Asif Ali (Rithu fame), Nithya Menon and fresh faces Hima, Aneesh and Abhishek for `Apoorva Ragam.’ And the pooja of `Apoorva Ragam’ was held on January 7, 2010, exactly 25 years after the switching on ceremony of his first movie `Mutharamkunnu PO.’