T.A. Shahid may have written only a dozen scripts, but among them were two of the biggest hits in Malayalam cinema of the last decade.
If Rajamanikyam (2005) remains one of the biggest hits in Mammootty’s career, Balettan (2003) saw Mohanlal playing what his audience loved him play: the hero without too much of heroism.
Shahid, younger brother of the more accomplished T.A. Razak, knew how to write for commercial cinema. His scripts had just about the right dose of humour and drama. And he could, most of the time, tell a tale without boring you. As he did in films such as Mambazhakkalam, which he believed was his best work, and Khaki.
Though Razak had dissuaded him from joining movies, because of the uncertainties in the industry, he was fascinated by cinema from a young age. He worked as an assistant director for a few years before V.M. Vinu gave him a break as a scriptwriter with Balettan in 2003.
“I liked Balettan’s script the moment I read it,” Vinu told The Hindu. “It was a simple tale, but there was enough drama to attract a family audience.”
Balettan indeed attracted the audience, as Shahid could make an impression as a scriptwriter pretty fast. And that was a time when a couple of new scriptwriters did not make their debut every Friday.
Commercial success though had eluded him for the last few years, and he had been ailing for a while. His last film, MLA Mani: Patham Classum Gusthiyum, which was released last April, did not set the box office on fire, either. But, he was confident of a comeback.
And you could see him on the location of every film that is shot in Kozhikode, his ill health notwithstanding. He was there at Chevayoor last Sunday, on the set of the Mammootty film Bavuttiyude Namathil.
Then he spoke of writing a sequel to Rajamanikyam. “That is something I could write without much of a strain, even in my present condition,” he had said.
Barely a week later, the man who said that is no more. Sometimes, life can be stranger than cinema.