Shunned by Malayalam, but saved by Tamil in reel life

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P. K. Ajith Kumar

KOZHIKODE: Actor Vijayan, who died following a cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday, was not just one of the more popular actors in Tamil cinema of his time. He was a scenarist and had also edited a magazine.

“He is one actor who did not get his due in Malayalam cinema,” said director T.V. Chandran, a close friend of the Tirur-born actor. “Had he got the right break at the right time in Malayalam cinema, he would have eclipsed many of our actors. He was so talented,” he added. That talent was exploited by Tamil cinema, where he went on to become a popular star.

His debut was in ‘Kizhakke Pogum Rail,’ directed by Bharathiraja. “It was as a writer that Bharathiraja first knew Vijayan,” recalled Mr. Chandran. “I was staying with Vijayan at Madras at the time. He had already written stories, as Tirur Vijayan, and had also edited a magazine called ‘Jwala.’ He was closely associated with Sachidanandan. And I remember there was a time when he had as many as four releases during one Deepavali.

He was very popular. He had once told me that when he stepped out of the train at Madurai Railway station, people thronged him, ignoring Sivaji Ganesan, who was also travelling on the same train. That incident actually hurt Vijayan, for he was a big fan of Sivaji,” Mr. Chandran said.

It was fate that perhaps deprived Vijayan of the opportunity to make it big in Malayalam cinema. He had written the script of ‘Shanghupushpam’ and was also supposed to act in it. “But he contracted jaundice and could not do the role which went to Sukumaran, who had virtually decided to quit cinema,” said Mr. Chandran. “Sukumaran was noticed for his dialogue delivery in Shanghupushpam – those dialogues were written by Vijayan, for himself,” he added.

Vijayan, however, got plenty of opportunities in Tamil. His performances in films such as ‘Uthiripookkal,’ ‘Pasi’ and ‘Niram Maratha Pookkal’ proved his calibre as an actor.

Director I.V. Sasi owes something to Vijayan. “We were not close friends; neither had we worked together. But he was the one who gave Seema her screen name,” said Mr. Sasi.

Vijayan had rechristened Shanthi as Seema, well before ‘Avalude Ravukal’ made her a star.




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