P.K. AJITH KUMAR
T. Damodaran is busy writing a screenplay for director I.V. Sasi, with whom he has enjoyed a successful partnership.
He has penned some of the biggest blockbusters in Malayalam cinema over the last three decades, but T. Damodaran does not want to rest on his laurels. So what if he is 71?Even as the 100-day celebrations of his latest film, `Yes, Your Honour,' are still on, Damodaran is busy writing another screenplay for director I.V. Sasi, with whom he has enjoyed a successful partnership; the duo had teamed up for many hits such as `Angadi,' `Eee Nadu' `Vartha,' `Avanazhi,' `Inspector Balram,' `1921' and `Adimakal Udamakal.'However, cinema was not on Damodaran's mind until actor Sathyan saw one of the plays he wrote at a drama festival in Kozhikode.
Theatre person"Sathyan had wanted to make that play into a film, but that didn't materialise. I had always loved theatre and had begun acting when I was 13. We had this Slapstick Comedy Troupe, in which Kuthiravattom Pappu was one of the main actors. We would choose a theme and make a play, and the actors, including me, had the freedom to improvise. "Hariharan was the first director who asked me to write a script," says the Kozhikode-based writer who has authored more than 60 films. "I declined his offer at first; I told him that he should establish himself first in the film industry before inviting me to join him. I said that I was happy being a physical education teacher in my hometown and that I did not want to return as a failed screen-play writer." Hariharan didn't persuade his friend further. Years later, he came to Kozhikode and asked Damodaran to watch `Rajahamsam' and `Ayalathe Sundari,' both of which were being shown in cinemas in Kozhikode city. After Damodaran saw both the films, Hariharan said, "Now do you think I have established myself in Malayalam cinema?"Damodaran's answer was the script, `Love Marriage,' which Hariharan directed in 1975. Five years later came `Angadi' and Damodaran became a writer to reckon with in Malayalam cinema. "Those were the days when the director - and not the stars - called the shots in the industry. I don't believe in the concept of a single hero. I enjoyed writing films that had many heroes and sub-plots." Films like `Ee Nadu,' in which he foretold the Vypin liquor tragedy, and `Adimakal Udamakal,' are examples of that. He adds `Adimakal Udamakal' would always be one of the films closest to his heart. "I thought I was able to say some important things about trade unionism in Kannur through that film."Few script-writers have used contemporary politics as cleverly for their films as he has. "That's because I have always been fascinated by history. And I want to say something to the society through my films." But, with films like `Kattathe Kilikkoodu' and `Anavathil Mothiram,' a comedy, he proved that it was not just multi-starrers with politics as the backdrop that he could excel in. "I would have liked to write more of such films, but there are no takers for them."