I met sreeniyettan first time for my cousins marriage.My uncle was his friend.I had written some serials then.I remember my mother was very persistent that I meet him them(Donno why).We just shook hands on stage.I am sure he doesnt remember it now,we havent talked about it since.
I met him next when he was shooting for Arabikkatha.I was there as Lal joses friend.Laluvettan introcuced me to him as “someone who thinks of different movie ideas”.With his trademark laugh he said “Thats a field which is very much in demand these days”.That was the only thing we talked during the 9 days I was there for the shooting.I felt like discussing passenger script(Mammukka was my hero then) with him but then withdrew from it,donno why.I was also really busy with Laluvettan learning the tricks of the trade.We sat together for lunch etc but never talked:)
I met him next at Dileepettans Guest house in Alwaye.He had agreed to hear passenger script.It was a harthal day.(Coincidently the day passenger released was also a harthal).I went there on a friends bike.He heard the script and said “Enikku santhosham aayi” with a full heart.He said he will not only act in the movie but will stand by me to make it.We parted after an hour.
He called me back the 2nd day offering me a producer.In his trademark style he laughed and said “I wont be able to take a remuneration from you if you produce it”.I laughed and replied “Dont worry about it.I was not going to pay you anyway”..The reply was a very big laugh.He committed with a producer that day itself on my behalf.Imagine the producer hadnt met me nor heard my script.That was Sreenivasan-The man commercial malayalam cinema trade believes blindly.A goodwill he had earned from all his years of hardwork.He was willing to trade it for a rank newcomer like me.It was just that one hour meeting.Just that.It was done.
I had to go to meet the producer S C Pillai on a said date.I got a call from an unknown number some 2 days back.I was in ottappalam busy scouting locations.It was sreeniyettan.He said he is in chennai,his phone is lost so calling from another number.He said he is also going to Trivandrum on the said date,I could go with him.
Dears,I was thrilled.Travelling with sreenivasan from Kochi to Trivandrum.What all I can talk with him etc etc.I had an important assignment in office that day but I turned it down saying I can resign but cant cancel this trip.Sreeniyettans wife was also with us that day.They were coming back from Chennai.That journey was special.It was such a wonderful family,such down to earth people.I talked non stop till we reached Trivandrum.
I had to return from Trivandrum the very next day since one of my uncle expired.We talked on phone the next day,we had some casting issues regarding Nandan Menon then.He asked me who else do I want to cast.I said Dileep will be good,but will he come.It was a very strong voice from the other end “VANNIRIKKUM”
I was meeting Dileepettan for the first time.Sreeniyettan called me and said he has fixed an appointment for Dileep to hear the script.I said it would be better if Sreeniyettan was also there.He said lemme see and cancelled the call.He called me in the evening.I asked “r u coming?”.He laughed and said ” I am already here”.He stayed in kochi for 2 days for that.(Dileepettan had some ailments),but he stayed.Dileepettan heard the script and immediately said yes to it.We had a ball that night.
I met him next in Ottappalam when he was shooting for “Samayam”.I was there for couple of days.He talked about his favorite movies,screenplays,life etc etc.He talked about what a good editor should be,cinematographer should be,sound recordist should be in movies,how good cinema happens..I listened as a good student.I had started realising this by then.My outlook to movies are changing with every meeting with him.I am listening to an institution in itself,a true legend and genius.
We talked through phone mostly after that,we met next when he was shooting Makante Achan.We talked on the minute details on locations and casting etc etc.
I badly wanted to sit with him on passenger script but he was really busy.Soon after Makante Achan he went into Katha Samvidanam Kunchacko.We met the next time almost a week before the shooting.I requested him that he should spend a day with me on the script.He readily agreed.We sat together and went through the whole script again.That was one big session for me.We trimmed some scenes,deleted some altogether,added some notches..That was experience..A great learning lesson for me how to perfectly edit a shooting script.I realised what a master script writer he was.
We started shooting and he was with me whenever I needed him.There has been times he was really angry at me,big quarells etc etc,,but most of the times he loved me.He helped me realise my dream in whatever ways he could…It was like an old japanese saying “If you buy someone fish for a day he will eat for a day,but if you teach him fishing he will eat fish all his life”
He taught me movies,to work hard and harder to make them and loving the process of it.More than the wonderful movies he has given us , I feel the greatest contribution of sreeniyettan for malayalam cinema is the kind of talent he has supported.If you look at major directors of malayalam today,many came through sreeniyettan school.Its a shame our system hasn’t even honouned him with a “Padma” award till date.
I realised what “genius” was , being with him,knowing him. Honestly I consider one of the biggest blessing in my life so far was to getting to know someone great as him from that close.
He was in USA when passenger released.He already had got calls from producers/distributors saying its a hit before I called.He asked me “Which scene is getting the biggest clap?”
I said…”I am happy..I am happy…”