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April 3, 2001

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Jairam's dream comes true

Shobha Warrier

MT Vasudevan Nair Every short story of Gnanpeeth award winner MT Vasudevan Nair is eagerly awaited for in Kerala. And once it appears in a magazine, it is discussed and appreciated in all the available literary platforms.

When the initial euphoria dies down, filmmakers pester MT to write a screenplay based on the story. Directing a film based on MTís script is like a dream come true for all known and unknown filmmakers of Kerala, even today. (MT has won the maximum number of awards for screenplay writing at the national level).

The recent story by MT, that created waves in Kerala, was Vaanaprastham. Within months of the story appearing in a magazine, the book form also appeared. The book went on to win the Odakkuzhal Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Kerala, instituted in the name of Indiaís first Gnanpeeth award winner Mahakavi G Sankara Kurup. It was for his poem Odakkuzhal (The flute) that G Sankara Kurup won the Gnanpeeth award.

Several filmmakers requested MT to translate Vaanaprastham, one of his most sensitive and incredibly touching stories into a visual medium, but in vain. Finally, when MT decided to write a screenplay based on the story, there was excitement. Jairam

What surprised the film fraternity was his decision to give the mandate to direct his film to a debutant called Kannan.

This is the second time that MT has given his screenplay to a newcomer; the other exception being cinematographer Venu who directed Daya. Otherwise, his screenplays have always been given to stalwarts like Vincent, Hariharan, IV Sasi, Harikumar, and the like.

Kannan is not a stranger to MT. He made a telefilm for Doordarshan Television Network based on one of MTís short stories. From then on, Kannan has become a 'disciple of MT'. "It has always been my dream to direct Vaanaprastham but I never even guessed that MT Sir would give the screenplay to me. I am honoured."

Vaanaprastham is about a retired schoolmaster meeting his student, who was his old flame, at Mookambika. The 65-year-old man has married daughters, while his student who is still unmarried, meet at a temple after several decades and make a trip to Kudajadri, the hilltop near the temple. As they converse, the story unravels in flashback.

As Shaji N Karun has already patented the title Vaanaprastham, MT had to choose another name. He decided to name his Vaanaprastham as Theerthadanam (Pilgrimage), quite appropriately though.

Suhasini Suhasini came back to Malayalam cinema after a long gap in Shaji N Karunís Vaanaprastham. Once again, she is acting in another Vaanaprastham as Karunan Masterís student.

Kannan had a tough time selecting the actor who could portray the thin and tall Karunan Master, as the masterís age spanned from 25-65.

Finally, jairam was chosen to portray the master. This was a 'dream come true' for jairam as this was for the first time that he was going to portray a character penned by MT.

Every actor in Kerala longs to deliver the poetic, unparalleled lines penned by MT Vasudevan Nair. It is no wonder then that jairam is thrilled by his luck.

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