The film industry is saddened by the demise of path-breaking director I.V. Sasi who was instrumental in changing the course of Malayalam cinema. Actors, directors and artistes who have known him closely, remember the legend, who worked in Kollywood too.
Urvashi is still in shock. Only the other day had she told Sasi’s wife Seema that she would be visiting ‘Sasiyettan’ soon. “Their home was near the studio where I was dubbing. I had seen him two months ago... I couldn’t even recognise him. So frail and tiny, like a kid, he sat huddled on the bedside. I couldn’t see him in such a state and burst into tears,” recalls the actress, who had associated with the ace director in over 20 movies, the notable ones being Karimbin Poovinakkare, 1921, Mrigaya, Mukthi and Adimakal Udamakal.
Urvashi also feels that an era has ended. “I have worked with most of the directors down south, but none of them have a camera in their eyes like Sasiyettan! If he set a frame with 40 characters, all of them will have equal importance in it. Also, there’s no director who has made several hit multi-starrer movies, that too, by bringing together all busy artistes back then. That was the magic of I.V. Sasi,” she says.
She remembers him as a director who has never treated actors as stars, but only characters. “A gem of a person he was! He always encouraged and recognised talented young directors. That’s not what everyone, especially legends like him, does,” states the actress, who shares a close bond with the director’s family.
Urvashi adds, “There’s no replacement for him and his films anywhere across the Indian film industry. No one could do justice to movies like Ee Naadu or Angadi even if they remade it. He was an excellent crowd manager and made movies for common men in the language they spoke. Three decades later, his movies are still fresh. His was a craft which asserted that the director is and will always be the captain of the ship.”
Actress Ranjini, one of the heartthrobs of the 80s, fondly remembered director IV Sasi in a Facebook post. The actress who has starred in a number of hit Malayalam movies back then, had missed out on working with Sasi on two occasions.
“I met him at Chennai and he was supposed to have introduced me through one of his Malayalam movies. But unfortunately I could not be a part of the project due to language problems at that time. After that he approached me once again for 1921, yet again, due to some date clashes I could not sign up for that movie.” Sasi’s 1921 was then the most expensive film in Malayalam. The movie went on to win the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value in 1988.
“But even though I had not worked with him, whenever we met, he was always very nice to me and talked a lot. He never held any grudge. Those days, it was always misinterpreted that if you did not work in one person’s movies consistently, they assumed you were deliberately avoiding them. But Sasi chettan was a person whose thinking was very forward. He always loved people. He was a very humble and genuine person. Seema chechi and him shared a wonderful relationship. A few months ago, I happened to speak to him.”
Reminiscing about him as a director, Ranjini adds, “I feel sad that the Malayalam movie industry never gave him a proper tribute and it’s only when somebody passes away, that we come up with so many hoo-haas. While they are alive, we do not know how to honour them!”
“We always say that ‘new-gen’ directors are making movies on controversial subjects. I will always say that he was a pioneer who has introduced so many controversial subjects. He paved a different angle for filmmakers of that time,” she concludes.
Actor Ambika reminisces her association with I.V. Sasi for two of his movies. “I was part of two of his movies — Meen and Angadi — and both were super hits in my career. It’s no less a fete for a director to do 150 movies and make so many hits out of it. I know him as an easy-going, cool-headed person. Sometimes, there would be other language actors in the cast who were not proficient in Malayalam. He was such a tower of patience to let them pick up the language first and then act before the camera,” she begins.
In her words, the ‘being a director’s actor’ factor would work well if Sasi was wielding the megaphone. “He was always an artiste-friendly director. We would see him stay unruffled even when the number of takes goes up. For an artiste, many things would have been whirling inside the head within this time, like how it is going to affect the shoot, the filming schedule, its impact on the film and so on. His presence would douse all our worries in no time. He’d patiently wait to get it done,” she remembers.
Having acted in his movies, is an honour, for there are many things that withstood the test of time. “My character in Angadi made me noticeable. I doubt if there is another hit Mappila Pattu till date to beat Paavada Venam... in Angadi. Isn’t Jayettan’s dialogue in English still in vogue? The loss is irrevocable. Only if he reincarnates, the void would get filled,” she concludes....