Producer T. E. Vasudevan at 96 is the grand old man of Kerala Film industry and his contribution has been immense.
At 21, T. E. Vasudevan entered the Kerala film industry as an exhibitor in Tripunithura in Ernakulam District, which is his place of birth. He was born to Mr. A.Sankara Menon and T. Esoda Amma on July 16, 1917. His did his stint at a time when the exhibitors in the State were totally dependent on Tamil films made in Tamil Nadu, and on Hindi ones from the north.
Considering the dearth of film distributors in Kerala, Vasudevan started a film distribution office, Associated Pictures (P) Ltd. at Tripunithura in 1940. For the first three years, he dealt with Hindi films. In 1943, he bought ‘Pregathi Harischandra’ from A. V. Meyyappa Chettiyar at Madras. He also had dealings with Mr. B. Nagi Reddy, of Vijaya Vauhini Productions, from the latter's first venture, Saukar. Subsequently, he purchased many films produced by Gemini Studios, Devar Films in Madras, Pakshiraja Studios in Coimbatore, Modern Theatres Ltd. in Salem and from independent producers in Tamil Nadu and it included the first colour picture and first cinemascope in Tamil and the first colour film in Malayalam.
In the course of 10 years he had brought to Kerala more than a 1,000 feature films in different languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Canarese and Sinhalese and became one of the prominent film distributor of the State.
Experience in the distribution sector for a decade prompted Vasudevan in 1950 to launch a film production concern, Associated Productions. He produced in Vauhini Studios, Amma, in Malayalam and Tamil with artists such as Thikkurussi Sukumaran Nair, Aran Mulla Ponnamma, M.N. Nambiar, Travancore Sisters' Lalitha – Padmini, and Santhakumari. It had Tamil Director K. Vembu and music director V. Dhakshinamoorthy, script was by R.S. Kurup, lyrics by P. Bhaskaran and photography by Adi M. Irani.
During a span of three decades he had produced films under the banners of Associated Productions, Jai Maruthi Productions and Jai Jaya, which opened doors to many technicians and artists in more than 50 films in Malayalam including six in colour, utilising the services of all artists of that time. The artists inluded Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi, G.K. Pillai, Sheela, Saradha, Jayabharathi, Sukumari, K.R. Vijaya, B.S. Saroja, Seema, Vijayasree, T.R. Omana and Mammootty.
For the black and white Tamil film, Yengal Selvi, he had Nageswara Rao, Anjali Devi, T.S.Balaih and Balaji. Vasudevan’s production concerns were schools for many directors and technicians in Malayalam during the early stages of their careers and who have now become celebrated veterans. Among the script writers, the names that figure include S.L. Puram Sadanandan, Ponkunnam Varkey, Uroob, Thoppil Bhasi, Muttathu Varkey, Moidu Padiyath, R.S. Kurup, G. Vivekanandan, K. Surendran, C.N. Sreekantan Nair and Jagathy N.K. Achary.
Among the directors, the names include Ramu Kariat, P.Bhaskaran, M. Krishnan Nair, K.S.Sethumadhavan, A.B. Raj, M.S. Mani, Sasikumar, Hariharan and S.S. Rajan.
Then the lyricists Sreekumaran Thampy, P. Bhaskaran, Vayalar and Abhayadev. Music Directors V. Dakshinamoorthy, Baburaj, AT Ummer, K.Raghavan, M.B. Sreenivasan and L.P.R. Varma.
V. Dakshinamoorthy did music for 33 films of Vasudevan.
Even personalities such as Murasoli Maaran (script), Kannadasan (lyric), K. V. Mahadevan (music director) and director D. Yoganand did one Tamil film – Yengal Selvi.
Vasudevan was the founder member of Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce in 1955 and served as president between 1995 and 96. He was founder president of Malayala Chalachitra Parishad Madras in 1968 and served it in the same capacity for l0 consecutive years. He was founder member of Kerala Film Producers Association at Ernakulam in 1989 and served as its president for four years.
He was a member in the Executive Committee of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce at Madras between 1955-1980. He was also a member in Raw Film Steering Committee Madras for five years. He worked for five years to compile a history of the Malayalam Film Industry from the period l928 to 2000, under the auspices of Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. Kerala State Chalachitra Academy took the responsibility of printing and publishing his work in book form with him and the chairman of the Academy as joint editors. Though the Academy has released a CD Rom including details from his work, the book is yet to be published.
The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce has been recommending Vasudevan’s name for the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for more than 10 years, but in vain. It stopped recommending him only at Vasudevan’s insistence.
At 96, he is now engaged in compiling a book on a few prominent producers of the country.
The following Malayalam films have won National Awards. But T. E. Vasudevan did not go to Delhi even once to receive the awards.
Snehaseema in 1954
Nair Pidicha Pulival in 1956
Puthiya Aakasam Puthiya Bhoomi in 1964
Ezhuthathakatha in 1970
He stopped submitting films for National Awards after 1970 to make way for new comers.
Some of the awards he has received.
J.C. Daniel Award (Highest Award) in 1992, instituted by Kerala Government
The South Indian Film Industry honoured him in 1989 during the Platinum Jubilee of Indian Film Industry.
In 2002, he was given the lifetime achievement award by Rotary International (District 3200)
In 2009, he was given the Chalachitra Ratna Award by Kerala Film Critics Association, Thiruvananthapram
In 2010, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Malayalee Council.
In 2012, he was honoured by the All Kerala Photographers' Association.
(T. E. Vasudevan can be contacted at 0484-2312504)