Filmmaker Raman Ashok Kumar, known as Ashokan, passed away at a private hospital in Ernakulam on Sunday. He was 60. Mr. Ashokan, who was an IT entrepreneur in his later years, was admitted at the hospital for the past few weeks with multiple health issues. Starting his career as an assistant director to filmmaker J. Sasikumar in the 1980s, he later struck out as an independent director with Varnam, starring Jayaram, Ranjini and Suresh Gopi in 1989.
He followed this up next year with Saandram, a co-directorial with Thaha, which had Suresh Gopi and Parvathy as a newly married couple whose honeymoon trip is marred by a dangerous man who is on their pursuit.
But Ashokan is best remembered for Mookkilla Rajyathu, one of the most memorable comedies in Malayalam cinema, which was also co-directed with Thaha. The 1991 movie had Thilakan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Mukesh and Thilakan, escaping from a mental asylum and struggling hard to fit in outside.
Speaking to The Hindu, filmmaker Thaha said that he had grown close with Ashokan during their early days in Madras, although they hailed from the same town, Varkala.
"He had already gained some experience by that time as an assistant to Sasikumar, while I was just starting out. We used to stay together and used to discuss a lot about our plans to make movies. He got the offer to make Varnam at that time, in which I worked as an associate director. It was during that time we decided to make movies together. After those two movies, he got busy with commitments in Singapore and later shifted base there after making Acharyan. He had a wide circle of friends in the cinema field, and he could easily have done more movies. But, he did not," said Mr. Thaha.