Entertainment First-time director Mohan Raghavan's ‘T.D. Dasan, Std VI B' is refreshingly different from the recent run of the mill films. PREMA MANMADHAN has the details

When Malayalam cinema had almost got out of the rut it had fallen into with fresh movies of first time directors like Ranjit Sankar, Sohanlal and a few other established names last year, problems of a different sort plagued it, plunging it into deeper morass.

Just when you thought it's back to square one, watching some of the newly released movies, treading on the beaten path and trying your patience, comes this maiden effort of director Mohan Raghavan, called ‘T D Dasan, Std VI B' under the banner of Presta de Lexa Moviedom. The subject is fresh, there are no ‘stars', super or duper, but there IS a story, an out-of-the-box type, and the treatment is also fresh. At the sparsely attended preview (a long queue, much noise and the presence of the multi media happens only if there are big names involved) in the city, those privileged to see the movie saw a different approach to cinema and hope for the Malayalam industry to come out of a vicious circle. It will be released in mid April.

Myth is blended with fact in the story. The urban milieu co-exists with the utterly rural. The story revolves round a letter written by a schoolboy to his father who walked out on the poor family, reasons unsure. He gets the address accidently from his mother's trunk. Where the letter lands, and the incidents that follow forms the storyline.

The ad world scene, village ambience, poverty as well as the wealthy and the educated star in ‘T D Dasan…', an under two-hour movie. Another angle in environment, cleverly woven into the story, is a Plachimada-like situation. “The budget is only slightly above the Rs. one crore mark,” says Mohan, who is credited with the story, script and direction. Mohan comes from Annamanada, near Mala, and many of those associated with ‘T D Dasan…' comes from the same village or thereabouts - the producers, Paul Vadukumcherry and Paul Valikodath, the two children who play pivotal characters and, of course, good old Mala Aravindan.

Mohan has a rich theatre background, having done his courses in School of Drama, Thrissur, and his PG in Theatre Arts at Kamaraj University, cinema is naturally the next step. A stint at assisting a few people like K P Kumaran, doing the script for the film, ‘Diary of a Housewife' (which won for Vinod Sukumaran the National Award for direction), and Mohan was ready to debut in tinselworld. ‘T D Dasan…' has warmth, craft and Mohan's ability to direct children is evidently his strong point. The children, Teena Rose and Alexander, portray their roles with aplomb. No mushiness or accent on ‘cute' scenes. The story simply moves along in a natural way, showing that whether in the rural or urban scene, children, if ignored, feel the same emotions.

Biju Menon in the title role of Nandan, an ad film maker and Swetha Menon, working in a match factory, as the tough single parent of the boy, Dasan, have put in good performances.

“No compromise has been made on the technical side,” Mohan says. Cinematographer Arun Varma, who cranks the camera for ‘T D Dasan…' works in Bollywood. He filmed Mahesh Bhatt's ‘Jashnn'. Sreevalsan J. Menon's music is beautiful: just one simple song, written by Rafeek Ahammed in a simple tune that stays in your heart. Vinod Sukumaran, a national awardee, has done the editing.

The message this movie sends is multifold: That a good story, in a different format, holds attention, without the crutches of slapstick or familiar faces, if the technical qualities are good.