KERALA

Film director Sasikumar dead

More than 80 of the 141 films J. Sasikumar directed were hits.  

: Renowned Malayalam filmmaker J. Sasikumar (86), who holds the record of making 141 films in his career spanning over three decades, died in Kochi on Thursday following a brief illness.

Popular in Mollywood as a ‘hit maker’, Sasikumar lost consciousness and was admitted to a private hospital in Kochi on Thursday morning. He died of cardiac arrest at 4.30 p.m.

Prolific director

Sasikumar was the most prolific director in Malayalam cinema. More than 80 of the 141 films that he directed were hits.

Many of his films may have been panned by critics, but he knew how to entertain the common man, for whom an evening in the town’s cinema theatre was the biggest idea of fun. Not that he wanted to make artistic films, but he was not willing to risk the producer’s money for his creative indulgence. You could still see the sensitive director in films like Velutha Kathreena (1968).

When he found that a film like Kavalam Chundan (1967) failed at the box office, he decided to make movies that would succeed commercially. And when it came to making entertainers, he was second to none.

He had a successful debut, with Thommante Makkal (1965), featuring Sathyan, Madhu, Sheela and Ambika, but when Kavalam Chundan and then Balyakalasakhi , despite being based on Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s popular novel by the same name, failed, he was disappointed and even considered leaving Madras, the home of Malayalam cinema then, and returning to Alappuzha. But Prem Nazir, who acted as villain in Visappinte Vili (1952) and hero in Balyakalasakhi , persuaded him to stay on in Madras and make commercial films.

Together they made Love in Kerala in 1968. That was a big success. His association with Nazir produced several hits over a couple of decades, such as Rest House , Lankadahanam , Panchavadi , Sethubandhanam , Panchathanthram , Sindhu , Chattambi Kalyani , Picnic , Pravaham , Randulokam , Vishukkani , Vellayani Paramu , Ithikkara Pakki and Post Mortem . Nazir acted in more than 80 films directed by him.

Sasikumar continued to make films long after Nazir’s reign. He directed just about every major star in Malayalam cinema from the 1960s to the 90s, including Soman, Sukumaran, Jayan, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Jayabharathi, Sharada, Lakshmi, K.R. Vijaya, Sreevidya, Vidhubala and Shobana.

In 1977 alone, he directed 15 films.

Sasikumar is survived by two daughters. Director Thampi Kannanthanam, his long-time associate, told The Hindu that the funeral would be held at Thattampalli Church in Alappuzha at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday.

The body will be taken from the hospital mortuary to his residence on SRM. Road here at 7 a.m. It will be kept at a hall in the city for the public to pay homage from 9 a.m. The venue will be finalised tomorrow.