C for Cochin Haneefa
You would have hated him in Vaname Ellai for marrying his son’s lover’s mom and in Mahanadhi for ruining Kamal’s life, you would have laughed when he played Vikatanandha in Kadhala Kadhala but you wouldn’t even guess that this guy was a playwright, writer and director of more than 30 movies in Tamil and Malayalam.
Born as Salim Ahmed Ghouse, he took his stage name Haneefa after a famous play of Cochin Kalabhavan Group. He started his movie career as a writer to RS Srineevasan, RS Manohar’s brother, who ran a production company. He began acting in tiny roles but moved on to make a mark as a villain.
His acting talent is well known, but we are here to discuss his writing/directorial career. Although he started writing dialogues and screenplay in 1977, his first directorial venture was Oru Sandesam Koodi. His first Tamil movie was Paasa Paravaigal (1987), a remake of his Malayalam movie, Moonu Masangalukku Pinpu and he got Kalaignar Karunanidhi to write the dialogues for the film. He became the 80s “Pa” varisai director as all his movies started with the word “Pa” or “Paa”. Bhimsingh was considered the original Pa Varisai director.
Although he mostly made family drama, he surprised everyone with Pagalil Pournami, a true-blue horror movie in Tamil cinema. I still remember watching the film on videocassette and didn’t sleep for few days. I couldn’t find the movie online. Sadly, out of 7 Tamil movies that were directed by Cochin Haneefa, there are only two movies of Cochin Haneefa that are available online, I will write about it. If I am not wrong, his last Tamil directorial venture, Naalai Engal Kalyanam didn’t even release (it has some beautiful songs from Ilaiyaraaja)
Breakout movie: Paasa Paravaigal
Although I would have loved to discuss Pagalil Pournami (if you get it somewhere, please watch it), I have to write about Paasa Paravaigal because that brought Cochin Haneefa into Tamil movies. Paasa Paravaigal is a movie about the emotional struggle between a brother and sister. The brother (played by Sivakumar) is accused of murdering his Sister’s (played by Radhika) husband (played by Mohan). While all evidence point to him, his wife (played by Lakshmi), takes the indomitable task of defending him in the court against the sister who is the prosecutor.
I haven’t watched the original, but the Tamil version should have been different because of two reasons – the dialogues were penned by Kalaignar Karunanidhi, and the lead actors were perfect in their roles. I would give it to Cochin Haneefa for bringing out the best in Radhika and Lakshmi especially during the court sequences. The scenes are overdramatic, but it was a treat to watch two talented actors trying to outscore the other.
Cochin Haneefa has worked mostly with Sivakumar in Tamil, and when he passed a few years back due to cancer, Kalaignar Karunanidhi gave a personal obituary as he was so fond of Haneefa. The movie was produced by Murasoli Selvam, brother of Murasoli Maran under the Poompuhar Productions.
YouTube link to the movie
Movies to watch
- Paasa Paravaigal
- Padatha Thenikkal
- Pagalil Pournami
I haven’t watched his Malayalam movies, so I will refrain from recommending anything.