Bidding adieu to K G George, a filmmaker who understood the craft’s aesthetics

Individuals from Malayalam cinema and Kerala politics pay homage to beloved filmmaker K G George who passed away on Sunday.
Filmmaker K G George (Express)
Filmmaker K G George (Express)

A relationship that helped learn and grow together: Shaji N Karun, Chairman,  Kerala State Film Development Corporation

K G George and I share a relationship as students from the same institute and filmmakers in the same industry. Being the products of the Pune Film Institute, the films we referred to were the same, and the learning process was similar. When we became part of the Malayalam film industry, the similarities and the connection helped us communicate effectively.

Even when we teamed together for two projects, the bond we had as students of the craft was beneficial to us. Instead of just being the result of mutual understanding, I see our connection as the result of cultural insights. It helped enhance the quality of our work. 

His entry into the Malayalam film industry was in the 1970s when the environment was entirely different. We had a lot of challenges to overcome because we were new to the field. These obstacles demanded us to prove our skills and talent in the craft to get a space in the industry. Our senior at the Pune Institute and with a good knowledge of the craft, he could prove himself and pave the way for us. Undoubtedly, his contributions have benefited many of us who have entered the field after him. 

George’s contributions in taking Malayalam films to new heights are uncountable. In the 1970s, Malayalam films were unmatchable to the national cinema. However, he could make a difference. The novelty of his perspectives and ideas, the technology he used and the way he presented the craft, all helped the industry improve and move forward.

This difference can be seen in his very first movie, Swapnadanam in 1976. He brought many changes to the craft - in writing, way of presentation and performances of the main characters as well as the junior artists.  I have associated with him in two films, Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback in 1983 and Panchavadi Palam in 1984. He has even handled women’s issues and violence perfectly in his film.  

His works, in my opinion, merit being studied in film schools today because of the concepts, performances, and ways they are presented. He was a filmmaker who understood the craft’s aesthetics.

‘He believed a director was above all a catalyst’: Unnikrishnan B Film director

K G George stands as not only my favourite but perhaps the greatest auteur the Malayalam industry has ever witnessed. Despite the modest oeuvre of 18 films, his creative spectrum spanned an astonishing range of themes, each imbued with his profound concerns about gender, society, politics, and culture.

One of his most striking works, “Adaminte Vaariyellu,” delved into the lives of three seemingly unrelated women. As the narrative unfolds, these women unite, culminating in a climactic explosion where they push aside the male director who had been framing, interpreting and constraining their stories, going beyond the authoritative camera in a final act of transcendence.

In this climactic scene, George masterfully deconstructed the traditional authority of a director. I consider it the most revolutionary and explosive political moment in Malayalam cinema, a bold statement made as early as 1984, well before the current wave of gender discourse in the industry. George’s films frequently challenged the very bedrock of society—the family.

Take, for instance, “Mattoral,” a less-discussed gem that unflinchingly examines how a woman’s sexuality is scrutinised within a supposedly balanced nuclear family. In an industry where such topics were seldom broached, George’s fearless exploration was groundbreaking.

Another testament to his genius is “Irakal,” a film that remains strikingly relevant even today. I greatly admired how George transformed scripts into a visual language, wielding a rare mastery over the medium. His films are, without a doubt, timeless texts that will continue to resonate with future generations. Finding a filmmaker of his calibre will be a daunting task indeed.

‘His films are classic inspirations for me’: Murali Gopy, actor-writer

K G George and my father Bharath Gopy had shared a good rapport. My father played three contrasting characters in three of his films -- ‘Yavanika,’ ‘Panchavadi Palam’ and ‘Aadaminte Variyellu.’ At that time, he had played different characters in other films too.

They shared a strong bond when they worked together, and the films became classics. Be it the villainous Ayyappan in ‘Yavanika,’ the humorous panchayat president in ‘Panchavadi Palam,’ or an affluent man in ‘Adaminte Variyellu,’ all were well defined.

He was a director who could make movies of all genres. In fact, he had a signature on all the films he made. We cannot confine him to a particular style of filmmaking. His films are classic inspirations for me. Though he couldn’t make any films since 1998, he is still remembered for the films that he made during that period.  

- (As told to Krishnachand K)

‘Yavanika a turning point in my life’: Jalaja, actor

I was apprehensive when I first arrived on the sets of George sir’s Ulkadal. He was, however, very helpful and supportive and, above all, tried to put me at ease. He spoke to me in detail about my character, Susanna, and the shoot schedule. Ratheesh, who I was paired with, and the late Shobha were also on location in Thiruvananthapuram. I was doing my pre-degree at Alappuzha St Joseph’s College when George sir cast me in Ulkadal in 1979. 

Ratheesh, who studied at Alappuzha SD College, was my senior. He was also a newcomer to movies, and kept reminding me that we were both on the same boat. I don’t exactly remember how I landed the role. I guess, it was either George Onakkoor sir, who wrote the script, or George sir himself who decided to cast me after seeing me in G Aravindan’s Thampu. 

In 1981, I got to do a full-fledged character role in George sir’s Yavanika. The film proved to be a turning point in my life. It helped me catch the attention of legendary film-makers such as Bharathan and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Yavanika was a female-oriented film that told the story of a theatre group. I believe my performance in Ulkadal gave George sir the confidence to cast me in Yavanika.

I must have done justice to the role. Even to this day, people approach me to talk about Rohini, my character in Yavanika. It is immensely satisfying. I am humbled and honoured to have received the opportunity to act in the films of a stalwart of George sir’s stature. All my media interviews feature Yavanika prominently. George sir and Yavanika changed my life forever. May his soul rest in eternal peace.  - (As told to Cynthia Chandran)

Mammootty paying homage to  K G George  | EXPRESS
Mammootty paying homage to  K G George  | EXPRESS

Beloved K G George sir was a unique talent who brought a newness to malayalam cinema and led the fans to the world of classics. He contributed to us the best films of all time in malayalam. Tributes to that irreplaceable genius - Mohanlal

Another person who was close to my heart says goodbye, Regards George sir - Mammootty

K G George was a filmmaker who found a place in the hearts of film lovers through his handling of themes with social commitment. His interventions have helped in narrowing the gap between art and commercial cinema — Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister

Heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of noted Malayalam filmmaker Shri K G George. Novel narrative style won him state and national awards and his films earned both critical and commercial acclaim. May his soul rest in peace. - Arif Mohammed Khan, Governor

K G George was the father of what we now refer to as ‘new gen’ cinema. His films portrayed tough situations in life in a truthful manner. His films were timeless as they retained both artistic and commercial value - V D Satheesan, Leader of the Opposition

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