THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The name of filmmaker Kabeer Raother may not be familiar to Malayali film buffs.But the fact he had been a known figure as a film director among Hindi film stalwarts like Shatrughan Sinha, Manas Mukherjee, Nida Fazli, Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar in the 70s and 80s would make one raise eyebrows in disbelief. Raother, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, who secured a diploma in direction in 1970, had the fortune to do a Hindi film in just six months after completion of his course.
But his happiness was short-lived as producer Mohammed Bappu could not find a distributor for several years. When the film finally hit theatres, the same story had already been made a film by one of the stalwarts of the Hindi film industry.
It was the beginning of a saga of setbacks and perseverance. But his longing for doing good films continued to keep him going. His film Lubna had glimpses of a promising director and got him critical acclaim. The songs by Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Yesudas made it memorable. The film had a song ‘Meri nigah ne ye kaisa khwab dekha hai. Meri nigah ne ye kaisa khwab dekha hai. Jami pe chalta hua mahtab dekha hai’ sung by Mohammed Rafi that missed the improvisation music director Manas Mukherjee had given during the rendering of music.
“No one would have dared to question Rafi at that time. Rafi asked me what happened. When I told him the improvisation Manas da had given was missing in the song, he had no problem to go for another take. It showed his greatness,” he says. Raother had planned to do a documentary on the Emergency period, narrated by Jayaprakash Narayan, titled Yadayadahi Dharmasya with Nazirudeen Shah in lead role.
By the time he and Uma Shankar, a friend of Jayaprakash Narayan, had reached Patna to take the main interview with Jayaprakash Narayan, he had fallen ill and was airlifted to Mumbai. The film could not be materialised. Shatrughan Sinha was his room mate for a short period during his students days at FTII. Raother has done two Hindi films and three Malayalam films, besides several documentary films for the Delhi news division and Kerala Public Relations Department.
His Malayalam films did not get much attention as he had to compromise for the market’s pressures. The films include Ambalakkara Panchayat, Parannuyaran and Inganeyum Oraal. Raother, a native of Kilimanoor, graduated from University College, Thiruvananthapuram.
As he had no means to continue his film studies it was his school mate G Madhavan Nair, a native of Thiruvananthapuram who came to his rescue. “Madhavan Nair, who joined the Army, used to send me money from his meagre income,” he says.
His journeys to holy places and the Himalayas and his close proximity to spiritual gurus helped him a lot. Even in the face of crises in his life and career at periodic intervals, he remained undeterred.
Raother, who had great adoration for Adoor Gopalakrishnan, fondly remembers M T Vasudevan Nair had offered him a chance to work as an associate while making the film Nirmalyam.
But he could not take up the offer. Despite the setbacks, Raother is still planning to make a film of his dreams to leave his mark on celluloid.