Kerala

The room in Shoranur that Lohithadas loved

Unni K. describing how celebrated Malayalam screenwriter A.K. Lohithadas wrote his scripts sitting in the easy-chair in room number one at the PWD Rest House at Shoranur.

Unni K. describing how celebrated Malayalam screenwriter A.K. Lohithadas wrote his scripts sitting in the easy-chair in room number one at the PWD Rest House at Shoranur.

Malayalam cinema owes a lot to the PWD Rest House at Shoranur. Many screenplays were born from certain rooms at the rest house on a tiny hill in a serene locale away from the din of the town.

But it was room number one on the eastern side of the rest house that saw celebrated screenwriter A.K. Lohithadas evolve as a write of flourish and flair as he wrote most of his three dozen-odd scripts lounging on the easy-chair in the room. The room has such a repute that some writers ask for it specifically, trusting on its talismanic charm.

“Several people are asking for this particular room, and they want to use this particular easy-chair used by Lohithadas,” said Sivakaran K. aka Unni, who served as a watchman at the rest house for four decades.

But Lohithadas was like a brother to Mr. Unni, who visited the screenwriter’s favourite room on the eve of his 13 th death anniversary on Monday. Until his death on June 28, 2009, the room number one was known as Lohi’s room.

“He chose it because it had a special coolness. He would forget everything and indulge himself when he wrote. He would spend days and weeks on end on scripts. We would not permit any visitor when he was at work. Only I had the freedom to go to his room with tea and food,” said Mr. Unni, moving his hands along the wooden easy-chair, falling back on nostalgic memories.

But Lohithadas, like other film personalities, never shunned visitors. It was at Shoranur rest house that many artistes were interviewed and chosen, including Manju Warrier. “I remember Manju Warrier being asked to enact a role. We were all astonished when she enacted that role with great finesse and elan,” said Mr. Unni.

The Shoranur rest house has hosted almost all Malayalam film celebrities since it was opened in 1964. Top stars like Mammootty, Mohanlal and Rajinikanth have stayed here for many days. Few other government houses may have such an intimacy with Malayalam cinema.

The reason, according to Prasad K. Shoranur, who studies the local history, could largely be the locale and its serenity. “It is interesting to note that the Bharatapuzha flowing through Shoranur played a pivotal role in bringing the Malayalam cinema out from studios into natural locales,” said Mr. Prasad.

He said the list of film personalities who enjoyed the beautiful locale of Shoranur would be as long as the list of Malayalam films. “The central location of Shoranur for rail connectivity, telephone connectivity, and the presence of government rest houses on both banks of the Bharathapuzha pulled Malayalam cinema to this place,” said Mr. Prasad.

If it was room number one for Lohithadas, room number six was the lucky one for Sathyan Anthikkad and room number seven for Ranjit. “All of them would invariably stick to their rooms at the Shoranur rest house,” said Mr. Unni.

Lohithadas used to take Mr. Unni to Sabarimala every year. He was almost like a secretary to Lohithadas. “I functioned like an assistant to him (Lohithadas), and handled the contacts of artistes seeking a role in films. He never rejected anyone, but advised people never to lose their job for love of cinema,” said Mr. Unni.

On Tuesday, the death anniversary rites will take place at Lohithadas’s house at Lakkidi. His widow Sindhu and sons Harikrishnan and Vijayashankar are to attend the function.


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 8:09:41 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-room-with-talismanic-charm-for-malayalam-cinema/article65573249.ece