Lohithadas – The Master Storyteller

All great actors attained the heights at where they are today because they were able to portray some great characters written for them. For someone whom histrionics is his biggest strength, some of Mammootty’s most memorable characters are Amaram’s Achootty ,Thaniyavarthanam’s Balan Mash and Valsyalyam’s Raghavan Nair, all which provided him with ample opportunities to prove his mettle. The rest of India came to know about Mohanlal when he first got the special jury National award for Kireedam’s Sethumadhavan and then his first Best Actor National award for Bharatham’s Gopinathan. All these characters were given birth by the master story teller – Lohithadas.

Lohithadas wrote screenplay for 34 movies and directed 11 movies , before he died from a heart attack on June 28, 2009. Lohithadas announced his arrival in Malayalam Cinema in style writing the script of Thaniyavarthanam in 1987. He was introduced to Sibi Malayil by Thilakan and it was one thing the veteran actor was always proud of. Lohithadas won the state award for the best story for his very first script and you never felt that you were watching a debutant’s attempt. Thaniyavarthanam is a splendid movie throughout but two scenes especially showcased Lohithadas’ terrific writing. First in the classroom where Mammootty gives advice to his students through a story of a boy who flies the kite . Second where Mammootty introduces himself as the neighbor to the groom’s party who had come to visit his sister. 

Two years and five movies later, he gave us the classic –Kireedam. When Achuthan Nair asks his son to drop the knife and Sethumadhavan cries out loud to the sky, what we saw is perhaps the most tragic climax ever in Malayalam Cinema. Sethumadhavan would also find a place among the best characters of Malayalam movie history. Lohithadas was still not content with what he had done in 1989. The same year ,in Dasharatham, when Rajiv Menon asks Maggi ” Annie mone snehikunna pole maggie ku ene snehikan pattumo’ , Lohithadas made sure the audience were once again brought to tears. In Dasharatham , Lohithadas told a story that was much ahead of its times. Though it failed to garner wide acceptance back then, today we could turn back and admire that we had such a great writer to give us such fresh and unique stories.

In 1991 , Lohithadas wrote a scene in Bharatham where Murali asks Mohanlal to control his emotions and remain calm in the police station. When Mohanlal recognizes his brothers clothes and sobs silently holding them tight, we got to see was one of the actor’s finest moments of acting. The same year, he teamed up with director Bharathan to give Mammootty one of his most popular characters – Achootty in Amaram. Lohithadas wrote another memorable character for the actor in 1993 in Vatsalyam , which also won the actor his third state award.

Lohithadas did not leave his heroines far behind too. The character he wrote for Manju Warrier in only her second movie – Sallapam made sure that it did not take her too long to find a place in our hearts. He also introduced the talented Meera Jasmine in Soothradharan and gave her one of her memorable roles in Kasthooriman later. KPAC Lalitha also won the national award for best supporting actress for her part in Amaram.

Though powerful tragic stories had always been Lohithadas’s prime fort, he had also written some light lovely family entertainers in his career teaming up with Sathyan Anthikad for Kudumba Puranam, Sasneham and Veendum Chila Veettu Karyangal. In 1997 ,Lohitadas made the foray into direction with Boothakannadi and won the national award for the debutant director. Though he never made such a huge impact as a director , his directorial efforts included some notable movies like Kasthurimaan and Joker.

Mohanlal once said- “Bharatham is a movie that’s very close to my heart. It is not my favorite because I won the National Award for Best Actor. Actually, we were to shoot a different story. When we were just about to start, we learnt that someone else was making a film with a similar story. I said, let’s drop the idea. Then Lohithadas, the writer, got this spark and started writing another story. In no time, we started shooting again at a brisk pace. On day 53, we released it. It was just amazing!”. It was from the verge of dropping an entire project that Lohithadas wrote a script out of a spark and which won its leading actor the National award.

Ask Mohanlal, he would tell you how much he misses those powerful scripts by Lohithadas. Ask Mammootty, he would tell you how he would love to do characters like Achootty and Balan Mash again. Ask Sibi Malayil , he would tell you how he is struggling to make a hit or a even decent movie without his favorite script writer. Ask the actors of this generation, they would tell you how unlucky they are not to be in the same era as when Lohithadas used to be at his prime. 
No other writer could leave lump in our throats consistently at the end of their movies like Lohithadas did with almost his every other script.  No matter how many years pass by, Lohithadas’s place among the finest script writers Malayalam Cinema has ever produced would remain intact.

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