Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another friend passes away

One of our senior most Film Institute graduate, director Aziz (P.M. Abdul Aziz) passed away at his residence on Saturday, April 18, 2010. He was 75.

He was one of the first FTII graduates from Kerala to direct a feature film. AVAL (1967) featured Madhu, Adoor Bhasi, K.P. Ummer, Bahadur and Usha Nandini. Scripted by Thoppil Bhasi, the film had songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma, Music by G. Devarajan. and cinematography by Mankada Ravi Varma. His other feature films were NJAVALPAZHANGAL, ATYUNNADHANGALIL KOODARAM PANITHAVAR and MAANPEDA. Later on he went on making documentaries, produced and directed 37 of them.

He started his career as a school teacher. His interest in art and culture made him leave his job and plunge into theatre. Chaverppada, written by him, won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 1973. The play was staged at a national theatre festival in 1975. He directed TV productions including Sayahna Kodathi, Kavikal Kalpanakal and Ennappadam.

He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.

I met Aziz in 1972 while I was staying at Madras sharing a flat with Prabhakaran and K.G George both alumni from the Institute. As it was also frequented by others from the Institute like John Abraham and Editor Ravi, our place was nicknamed POONA HOME by Malayalam Actor Adoor Bhasi who was also our neighbour. Aziz used to come there to meet Prabhakaran who was also the Producer of the film MAANPEDA directed by Aziz. During one of his visits, he asked me to work in a Documentary for the Government of Kerala, titled "Tribal Life in Kerala" in Eastman colour. For that documentary we had travelled right from Thenmala in the south of Kerala to Kannur at the northern end. We did cover a large number of tribes in Attapady and Sultan's Battery too. It was a very interesting and unforgettable experience walking through the forests and climbing mountains to meet those remote tribal people.

Once, after our shoot at deep jungle area in Kannavam forests, near Kannur , we lugged our equipments back for many kilometres, to find our only car's tyre flat and there was no spare tyre either. Also we did not have a jack to lift the car. It was getting dark and we were a few kilometres away from the nearest road. With the help of the people we lifted the car, placed some stones underneath it, and removed the tyre. The driver then rolled it to the nearest road, caught a bus, got the puncture repaired and finally returned at 10 PM. Till then we were waiting in the jungle with a campfire to protect us from the wild animals.

When the film's negative was being it was found that a roll of 400 feet colour negative was found missing from the editing room. Inspite of many days of searching it was not to be found and we had only the black and white rush print of the missing footage with us. With the deadline approaching, we had no other go but to make dupe negative from the black and white print and while printing appropriate colour tints were added to make it look like a colour film! Months after the print was handed over to the Government department, the missing roll of colour negative was discovered in the editing room. By then it was too late to do anything.

When he showed the film for approval, the authorities insisted on including few shots of the concerned Minister too. At that time I was in Madras and with my consent he hired a camera and cameraman from Trivandrum to take the shots of the Minister at the Secretariat but he could get only a few bits of black and white negative ! Finally I had to print those shots too with a sepia tint to make it a colour film.

Later on I used to meet him often at the International Film Festival of Kerala , last time being a few years back. I convey my heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved family members.

I pray for his Soul to Rest in Peace