KOCHI: Though he stayed away from Kozhikode - his hometown - for long, I V Sasi had a big hand in raising its profile in popular culture through his strong presence in Malayalam cinema.
While he brought to life stories of people from every walk of life on screen, the city was getting transformed into a hub for the most popular art of the time - cinema. Places such as Kozhikode Valiyangadi were immortalised with a blockbuster, Angadi; actors like Kuthiravattom Pappu became inseparable parts of films paving the way for the entry of a number of actors and technicians from the city. And it turned into a ‘lucky location’ with the number of films increasing.
“He was a product of Universal Arts at YMCA Cross Road,” said filmmaker Joy Mathew. “There, he was a colleague of director Hariharan. One of his main inspirations to become a director was the crown theatre and the films screened there. He used to watch all the films there. Scriptwriter T Damodaran had a major contribution to his films with Kozhikode as the background.”
As Sasi’s stature in Malayalam films turned stellar, many actors from the area – K P Ummer, Balan K Nair, Kunjandi and Nellikkode Bhaskaran received more screen space. “He could make a mark as a director with the support of Kozhikode natives, such as Ramachandran of Murali Movies who produced his first movie. Later, a lot of productions houses - including Grihalakhshmi productions – made a number of films with Sasi,” said Chelavoor Venu, writer and veteran mediaperson from the city.
The shift to Kozhikode as a major location for Malayalam films was the result of Sasi’s emergence as a major force in Mollywood. Hotel Maharani, where he stayed for long, became a cradle for many superhits.
“Through his films, I V Sasi could popularise Kozhikode and give it a different identity in popular culture. Though it was rich in heritage, it’s identity was rendered ambiguous within the whole of Malabar, which was then undeveloped in many spheres.
“This helped erase many stereotypes associated with the place,” said Prasanth Nair, former Kozhikode collector who had held discussions with Sasi on film projects. “As he made 1921, he could give new light into the history of Malabar as a whole. While making films from contemporary themes and issues based on the city, the land was getting more attention,” added the civil servant who introduced many theme-based projects for the city.