Mathivanan aka Tharol Narayanan, the stuntman who performed high-risk action sequences for actor Kamal Haasan in several Tamil movies is living in misery, alone in a shanty at Pookkad in rural Kozhikode, Kerala.
Narayanan, who was one of the most sought after stuntmen in the 1980s, is now half-paralysed. And the only companion he has is a radio that he keeps at his bedside.
For his friends in Kerala and Chennai, the sight of their martial arts master lying bedridden would be something hard to come to grips with.
Narayanan became disabled after an accident in Pookkad nine years ago. Lying in the bed, the 60-year-old yesteryear “dupe”, as a stuntman is called in the film industry, recollected his golden days.
The films which earned Narayanan a name for daredevilry include Aadu Puli Aattam, Natai Kakkum Kai and Payum Puli. “I really enjoyed my days on the film sets. I was completely happy then,” he said.
Deep scars near his knee and elbow joints stand testimony to the risky side of his profession. “Those days he bore some resemblance to Kamal Haasan,” his brother Tharol Gangadharan said, showing an old photograph of Narayanan. Gangadharan, who lives nearby, takes care of him.
During a fight scene in the climax of Aadu Puli Aattam, Narayanan was asked by director S P Muthuraman to jump from Divar, one of the tallest buildings in Chennai, to a tree. “In those days, safety measures were inadequate. They spread straw on the floor to avoid accidents. That was it. I felt nervous but did what I was asked to. An astounded Kamal Haasan appreciated me,” he reminisced. Narayanan said it was Kamal who changed his name from Narayanan to Mathivanan.