F for Fazil
I fear a day when someone might end up asking whether Fazil is the father of Fahadh Faasil and might not know about his legacy. Probably, some people reading this post might be thinking why I am writing about Fahadh’s father. I would put Fazil in the league of Mahendrans and Mani Ratnams of the movie world. You might say that he primarily remade Malayalam movies into Tamil, but each of these movies has their own character and unbeatable legacy in Tamil cinema.
Fazil initially studied BA and MA Economics, but he interested in Literature and cinema. He wrote dramas during college days, directed and acted in them. Fazil along with his friend Nedumudi Venu started a mimicry act that was quite popular across the state. Looking at his talent, Boban Kunchako, founder of Udaya Studio asked him to work for the studio. Meanwhile, his application to Adyar Film Institute was rejected, and he became a screenplay consultant for Thacholi Ambu, the first cinemascope movie in Malayalam. The movie was a huge hit, and Navodaya Appachan offered him to direct Manjil Vrinja Pookal, a low-budget film with newcomers. Mohanlal debuted in the film while Shankar got his Malayalam debut.
Fazil recollects that the success of Manjil Vrinja Pookal went into his head and the next three movies were box-office failures. He went back to the drawing board and started from scratch to create Ente Mamattikkuttiyammakku (1983) that launched Shalini as a child artist.
He changed the landscape of Malayalam cinema with his Nokketha Dhoorathu Kannum Nattu (Poove Poochadava in Tamil) that was the first complete heroine oriented movie in Malayalam cinema, and it launched Nadia Moidu. He remade the film in Tamil, and it became a massive hit in Tamil too. Fazil continued to remake his Malayalam movies in Tamil that brought in new aesthetics to moviemaking and storytelling. It also brought different facets of the actors as he chose actors who were stereotyped into some other genre of movies. For instance, Sathyaraj in Poovizhi Vasalile and En Boomukutti Ammavukku was brilliant and made the audience to see him in a new light.
Fazil’s movies explored the nuances of the human mind and how they react to tough situations. How would you respond if a mute child is in your custody? How will you react when your lover is shot and killed? How would you react if your child dies during a party? No other director has brought in that wide range of emotions into movies like Fazil His pinnacle was Manichitrathazh (in Malayalam) and Kadhalukku Mariyathai (in Tamil). He had the knack of identifying talent, and he introduced many actors in Malayalam.
Break-out movie: Poove Poochudava
Poove Poochudava is a story of Poongavanathamma (Padmini) who lives alone in a village waiting for her granddaughter one day. The villagers are not fond of her because she gets irritated at people who sneeze and the kids make fun of her. One day, her granddaughter, Sundari (Nadhiya Moidu) visits her, but she doesn’t want to take her into the house as she believes that Sundari will also leave as her daughter left her for Sundari’s dad. Nadhiya convinces her, and both have a great time together. Poongavanthamma believes that Sundari will stay with her forever. Sundari’s father (Jai Shankar) finds that Sundari is staying with her grandmother and tries to take her back home as Sundari is terminally ill. Sundari refuses to go with him, but Poogavanathamma wants to save Sundari’s life. She sedates Sundari and sends her off to Sundari’s dad. The movie ends with Poongavanathamma repairing her calling bell so that Sundari will be back to meet her.
The movie was a bold attempt at that time as it revolved around only two characters and didn’t have a traditional hero. S.Ve.Shekher acted as the neighbourhood boy who fights with Sundari and develops a crush on her. The movie entirely relied on the beauty of the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter perfectly portrayed by Padmini and Nadhiya. It was like a sweet poem, and you shed tears when you finish it. I don’t think anybody could control the tears when Padmini repairs her bell during climax with Ilaiyaraaja’s score is breaking you into pieces in the background.
The movie was a critical and box office hit with Ananda Vikatan giving 55 marks for the film. The movie completed Silver Jubilee and propelled directors to come up with heroine-oriented films. The movie’s music by Ilaiyaraaja was a huge hit, and Chitra was titled Chinna Kuyil after the song Chinna Kuyil Paadum Paatu.
Fazil made ten movies in Tamil out of which 6 were remakes, 3 were direct Tamil movies, and 1 was a bilingual shot at the same time.
YouTube link to the movie
Movies to watch
I would suggest except for Kannukkul Nilavu and Oru Naal Oru Kanavu, all of Fazil’s Tamil movies should be watched and cherished.
- Poovizhi Vasalile
- En Bommukutti Ammavukku
- Varusham 16
- Arangetra Velai
- Karpoora Mullai
- Kilipetchu Ketkava
- Kadhalukku Mariyathai
Also, please don’t miss Manichitrathazh. The adapted versions of that classic (Chandramukhi, Bhool Bullaiya and Apthamitra) are abominations.