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Of the dying breed of distributor-producer

Pavamani is one of the first generation distributor-producers of Kerala, who worked with stalwarts like Prem Nazir.

HE IS just back from the library with some impressive titles, which could keep him busy for a couple of days. Producer-distributor S.Pavamani now finds more time to pursue such passions..

A benign smile flashes on his face on inviting him for a trip down the sepia-edged frames of memory. The Kerala Film Producers' Association, this month, will honour him along with four other producers. The breed called film producers is dwindling, as anyone who has cash now aspires to be a producer. Mr. Pavamani is one who was a professional film distributor and producer.

He had started distributing Hindi movies under the banner of Sheeba films in `Kerala territory' from1959 onwards, after a seven-year long stint in textile business.The Ashok Kumar starrer `Mere Jeevan Saathi' was the first to come. Big films like `Aradhana', `Haathi Mere Saathi' and `Gunga Jumna' followed. More than 100 Malayalam films, which include A.Vincent's `Chenda', M.T's `Nirmalyam' and the sensational I.V.Sasi movie, `Avalude Raavukal' were distributed by him.

In 1975, Mr. Pavamani started production under the banner of Pratapchitra Films. His first film, `Ayodhya', directed by debutant P.N.Sundaram, starring Prem Nazir and K.R.Vijaya was a huge hit.

"In fact I had made an agreement with Prem Nazir to act in two more films while signing him on for the first film itself. `Aayiram Janmangal' and `Aparadhi' were those films," he says.

`Ayodhya' finds a place in history for yet another reason. Legendary singer Kishore Kumar sang his only Malayalam song for the film. The song "Chettan kedi, Aniyanu pedi... " was a big hit. "Kishoreda agreed to sing the song as he was requested to do so by his brother Dadamoni (Ashok Kumar), who was a friend of mine. I was indeed amazed by the professionalism shown by the great singer. He spent a whole day in the studio and was very particular that his diction should be perfect," he says.

Mr. Pavamani fondly remembers his association with internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. "I had met him during a film festival. Ray wanted me to release three of his films _ `Mahanagar', `Charulatha' and `Debi' _ in Kerala. Though I said there was no market for Bengali films here, Ray wanted to see that his films were screened here too. And I am really proud that I did," smiles Mr. Pavamani.

He is in awe about the actors of yesteryear whom he had associated with. "They were ready to take any amount of trouble, including working in continuous shifts. And of course, they were never greedy about money."

Though he really wanted to work with noted actor Sathyan, he is sad that the dream could never be fulfilled.

When most of the current genre of producers complain about their budget going haywire, Mr. Pavamani says that this could be due to the fact that they don't work with bound scripts, which used to be the order of the day then. "The filmmakers then had a definite idea about how the final product would be. Of course, I was always involved in every aspect of production.

At least the producers during my time were treated with utmost respect," he says.

Though he quit producing films in 1985 after Uyarangalil', which was scripted by M.T and `Gayathri Devi Ente Amma', directed by Sathyan Anthikkad, he continued distributing movies until 1996.

He cites the reasons for quitting production of films: "By the beginning of 80's artists started giving dates to directors and not to producers, which was the practice until then. I believe that it is not at all a healthy trend. Besides the costs too went sky high and these days a single flop can really wreck a producer."

His son Pratap looks after his outdoor shooting unit now and his daughter is married to noted cinematographer Jayanan Vincent, who is based in Canada working for a TV channel there.

Pavamani, one of the founders of the Distributors' Association, reminisces that the greatest flops during his career as a distributor were `Cheriyachante Kroorakrithyangal' and the Pradeep Kumar-Bina Rai starrer `Taj Mahal'. As a producer, films like `Vilakkum Velichavum' and `Aswaradham' were big flops.

What does he feel about the current crop of movies? "I do enjoy watching them. These days comedy seems to be the zing thing and I like it too."

He has never tried his hand at direction or acting.

What did he enjoy most doing, film production or distribution? Without batting an eyelid, he says, "It's indeed a privilege as a businessman, to select from fully shot films and easily, distribution gave me more satisfaction."


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