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Sathyan and his first film

Sathyan in a still from 'Kadalpalam'   | Photo Credit: By special arrangement

Athmasakhi is considered to be actor Sathyan’s debut film. A look back into Sathyan’s career would reveal that this was actually the fifth time he appeared before the camera. The first four, however, were either abandoned or did not see the light of day.

His first attempt was an untitled film. There are two opinions about what really happened to this project. There are those who believe that it was completed but could not be released, while others are of the opinion that it was abandoned immediately after the shoot.

The second film in which Sathyan acted was The Pious. This again went unreleased. He got another chance in Thyagaseema, a project of K. Balakrishnan, a noted journalist and editor of Kaumudi. Some parts of this film were canned but had to be dumped midway. In fact, if this film had been released it would have been the maiden film of both Sathyan and Prem Nazir. The shooting of this film was held at Sree Krishna Studio at Kulathoor, in Thiruvananthapuram .

To pursue an acting career Sathyan gave up his police officer’s job. These initial setbacks did not deter him. He got a role in the film Kedavilakku produced by the Aluva-based Kerala Co-operative Film Society. Rajeswari Pandala was to be the heroine. The shooting was postponed many times and finally abandoned.

Sathyan approached Viswanatha Iyer, a producer from Tripunithura, who was working on the film Vanamala. This was a jungle movie and Swami promised to give Sathyan a chance but this did not materialise. Sathyan was a close acquaintance of Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar, a leading actor of the times. Bhagavathar tried his best to find a role for Sathyan.

Once Bhagavathar introduced Sathyan to Kunchacko and sought his help. Even before being offered a seat Sathyan pulled a chair and sat down. This offended Kunchacko, who rejected Bhagavathar’s request. Interestingly, Kunchacko joined hands with Sathyan in many films in later years.

Interestingly it was Bhagavathar who appeared as a saviour again. On his recommendation Sathyan got his first real role in P. Subramaniam’s Athmasakhi. There were many who tried to dissuade Subramaniam from his decision but he stuck to it, and this opened the doors for Sathyan.

In later years Sathyan evolved into one of the finest actors in Indian cinema. He came up with outstanding performances like Pazhani in Chemmeen, Sudheendran in Vazhvemayam, Pappu in Odayil Ninnu and many more.

When the Kerala State instituted the film awards in 1969 the judges had no hesitation in choosing him as the best actor for his role in Kadalpalam.

Sathyan went on to win the same award in 1971 for Karakanakadal, the same year that he died.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 7:28:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/sathyan-and-his-first-film/article7413639.ece

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