There was a time when all it mattered to me was the actor on screen and a good story. Its only later when I started looking for the names of men behind the scenes, I came to know about many brilliant guys. And one of them was Lohithadas. The first film that comes to my mind is 'kireedom'. The character of Sethumadhavan played by Mohanlal is one which made all Malayalis cry. Its a very complex character depicting a myriad emotions and that one character is testimony to the class of the writer behind it. Or take 'balan maash' from 'Thaniyaavarthanam', one of his first screenplays. A normal person who ends up as a reflection of the society around him, which has gone mad beyond repair. It was also a story which ends in an unusual way, rewriting the normal trajectory of the 'climax' in malayalam cinema.
Then there are malayali's favourite musicals-'Bharatham' and 'His highness Abdullah'. He wrote 2 near perfect stories with a musical background. With the great Ravindran maash in full form, these movies created history. Mohanlal and Mammooty got some of their best roles in their life through the pen of Lohi. His partnership with director Sibi Malayil has yielded some of the best films ever in malayalam. A hallmark of his stories are that they don't have many trappings of a normal masala potboiler. There are no flashy characters in his stories. All of them have a heart and are characters that we see in everyday life caught in unusual situations. Mammooty's character in Valsalyam is one of those. A family man who has given everything to his family members ending up as an 'unwanted' element for the same people whom he helped. Movies like those were lessons in family values. Another brilliant one from Lohi is 'Veendum chila veettukaaryangal' where he showed the unusual friendship between a dad and son. The twist in the story is an absolute master class that it will make you smile and cry at the same time.
Another lesser mentioned quality in him is the eye for talent. He was one who introduced two of the most beautiful and gifted actresses in malayalam cinema- Manju Warrier and Meera Jasmine. These two went on to conquer malayalam cinema as well as other language films. His tryst at direction was not as fruitful as his writing career. But, there was brillaince there too in the form of 'Bhoothakkannaadi' and 'Kanmadam'. These films were noted for their powerful characterisations and unusual storylines. Then there were some absolute duds like 'chakkaramuthu', which doesn't deserve any mention at all. But that doesn't take away anything from the gifted writer that this man was. He has also played cameo roles in movies like 'Udayanaanu thaaram' and 'Veendum chila veettukaaryangal'. In those too, he used up his screentime to convey some important messages on life and film making. This is a man who lived and breathed cinema till the very end. For malayalam cinema already hurtling down the peaks due to the dearth of good writers, this untimely death comes as a shocking blow. Promising writers are few and far between. And there are not many who can fit into the shoes left behind by this great man.
your crusader Praveen