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Visu, a colossus

Visu, Shanti Krishna and S.Ve. Shekhar in Manal Kayiru  

News of the demise of veteran Visu plunged the Tamil film world in sorrow. Some of them share their association with the legend.

M. Saravanan, Producer, AVM Production house

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, which Visu directed for AVM Productions, was the first Tamil film to get a gold medal at the National Film Award for the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. It was destiny which brought us together because it was not planned. After finishing his work in Nallavanukku Nallavan, for which he wrote the screenplay, I gave him a double salary because the film had come out very well and was a huge success. He told me that he would rather make a film under the AVM banner than a double salary. I told him that if he could focus only on the AVM film, we could do it. He came back after some time with stories and I was keen on a family drama, which was his speciality. He did have a story, which I liked. The issue was it had already been made into a film and had failed. I told him that humour was missing and he could introduce it by bringing in the character of a maid servant. Visu returned with a modified script and my choice for the maid was Manorama. Visu now wondered how he could think of the story without that character. The rest, as they say, is history. Samsaram Adhu Minsaram was a silver jubilee hit. We gave him only Rs. 15 lakhs. He was able to finish the film with that money. Initially, no distributor came forward to buy the picture. But those who did eventually, did not regret. It earned them revenue ten times. We have lost a good friend, an excellent writer and fine director.

Visu, a colossus


Actor-director Y.Gee. Mahendra

Visu was a simple giant. His association with UAA goes back to 1965-66, when Mouli joined too. We were staging “Kannan Vandhan.” Visu appeared in small roles in our plays, his major role being that of a journalist Meenjur in ‘Flight 172.’ We had spotted his talent and he always said that UAA was his launch-pad. His brothers Rajamani and Kishmu were very supportive and they were a close-knit family. Visu was very fond of my parents Y.G. Parthasarathy and Rajamma. He and Rajamani were YGP's blue-eyed boys. Visu wrote the script “Uravukku Kai Koduppom.” My mother liked it; so did I and agreed to direct it for him. It was with this play that Visu’s Viswa Shanti troupe was inaugurated. The play went on to win many awards and created waves. I directed one more play, “Eswara Allah Tere Naam” and after that he was on his own. He rose steadily as a writer-director, actor and conquered the middle class audience. To our family, however, he was the same Visu. In those days, I was a regular pillion rider on his Jawa motorbike. He never missed any of my plays and always followed it up with frank opinion. He was up to date even with my daughter's plays. Perhaps one of his last outings was the special screening of my movie, Shyama Ragam, a month ago. In spite of his deteriorating health, he attended the show and expressed his appreciation. Also, he gave some positive response to the movie in his TV bytes. To me, he said, “It is a good film. And I like it especially because it is a writer-director subject of which I feel proud.” Sad that I could not meet him after that. But I have such lovely memories of the 1960s and 70s, when Visu, Mouli and myself had a roaring time.

Visu, a colossus

Director Kasturi Raja

I owe my career to him. I did not know anything when I came to Madras in search of livelihood. Cinema was my goal and I was exploring opportunities, when I met Visu. He asked me whether I was familiar with direction, I lied that I was. From his first film Manal Kayiru to Sakalakala Sambanthi, I worked with him. In the process, I learnt several things related to life too. It was to him I went with the cheque, when I was first engaged as a director for a film. Blessing me, he said, “Do not give false promise or hope to anybody. Because falsehoods are common in this field. I haven’t forgotten those words. People, who have stories, approach me for an appointment with my son Dhanush. I tell them that I’m not the right person for this. It may cause heart burn and they may not even believe me but that is the truth. Why mislead someone with false hope? I am proud to say that I learnt everything from my guru, Visu, who was a colossus.

Actor Rekha

I acted in four films under his baton — Mappillai Sir, Vedikai En Vadikai, Varavu Nalla Uravu and Kavalan Avan Kovalan — featuring leading artistes. He was a workaholic and his shooting spot was always serious, even if it was a comedy film. Meticulous in his planning, he hated wastage of any sort. His sharp story sense and the ability to make a tight script were his strengths. Even his dialogue was crisp. Comedy flowed naturally from his pen. I was very young and Tamil was not my mother tongue. So I found it difficult to speak his lines. After a couple of times, he would rewrite the lines on the spot. Such was his power. The Tamil film industry has lost a good director and script writer.

Actor Ananthi

I would always remember him as a person oozing with kindness. If somebody went to him with a problem, he would not rest until he found a solution. If it was beyond him, he would suggest the right person. In 1975-76, I acted in the play, “Easwara Allah Tere Nam,” written by him and directed by Y.Gee. Mahendra. After that, I acted in some ten plays, which he directed. When he started work on Manal Kayiru,” he asked me to dub for the heroine. In fact, he took almost all of his theatre friends with him during his film journey. His growth never affected that equation. On my side, all the milestones in my life happened with his blessings. On location, I once noticed that a boy seemed a little distracted. Some personal issue. Visu and that boy had a long conversation, when shooting was suspended. It was resumed only after some understanding was reached. In a couple of days, I came to know that Visu had sorted out the problem. He never spoke about it. Such was his integrity.

Actor Sivakumar

My homage to my friend:

After director K. Balachander, you were the one, who showed the middle class life in the right perspective on stage and also on cinema. Manal Kayiru and Samsaram Athu Minsaram showed your calibre. Through “Arattai Arangam,” you reached the mass. Young students in the villages got recognition and aid because of this platform. Both your daughters live abroad. You once told me, “If I die, I’ll be lying like an orphan, until they reach my side.” My friend, you were so noble, both were with you when your end came. Farewell my friend, extreme caution necessitated by the deadly Corona prevented me from paying my last respects to you. When will we meet again?

Actor Sachu

I was popular in cinema, more for my roles on the lighter side. I wanted to have a taste of theatre. After all so many stalwarts had come from drama and I wanted to test my prowess in a serious role. Vani Kala Mandir gave me the opportunity and I wanted actor and director Mouli to write a script for us. Mouli was busy and recommended young Visu, then an up-and-coming writer, mostly engaged with UAA. ARS corroborated the idea and Visu wrote a script titled, “Deviyar Iruvar,” which had a double role for me. First half was comedy and the second serious. His dialogue proved what a master he was in the art. So, I was the heroine for his first script. I did not act in his direction but we paired in the film, Vaimaiye Vellum. He often said that he wanted to be like Sachumma. What did he mean by that? He explained: “You are like a pillar to your family, making a sacrifice for their happiness. I want to emulate you.” True to that, he took care of all his brothers. When Krishnamurthy (Kishmu) died, he was shattered. All his heroines were ‘Uma,’ named after his wife, who lent him tremendous support. The Tamil film industry will miss a great dialogue writer and a director and I miss a friend, who was kindness personified.

Actor K.R.Vijaya

Visu liked my style of acting. I acted in three films, which he directed. One of them was Aval Sumangalithan. One with the legend Sivaji Ganesan and another Veedu Manaivi Makkal, which was the debut film of his assistant T.P. Gajendran. A master of the art of writing dialogue, he knew what lines would fetch applause from the audience. His instruction to me regarding Veedu… was to just appear for the shooting! He would take care of my acting. Besides, his screenplay and dialogue would do the work for him. And he did guide me. On the last day of the shooting, I told him that I had been a mere spectator at his shooting. When I saw the film, I realised the magic he had worked with my acting. I wanted to go and pay my respects to one of the brightest stars of Tamil cinema but the Corona scare prevented me from venturing out. But I certainly prayed for him.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 2:21:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/visu-a-colossus/article31172346.ece

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