Adoor Gopalakrishnan, whose realistic movies spawned a whole new movement in film-making in Malayalam, just like Satyajit Ray’s ventures on celluloid, now has the “honour of having a book on him in Tamil.”
At an event to mark the book’s launch in the city, Adoor – whose speech in English was laced with ironic humour – said he would not speak in Tamil out of respect for the language. Of Akbar Kakkatil, who interviewed Adoor over five days for the book Idam Porul Kalai , Adoor said he was initially hesitant to sit with the writer.
“He came into my house asking for two hours and stayed for five days. My only intermission came when he went out to smoke. I had refused to let him smoke inside the house,” Adoor said.
“I am growing old and therefore, I am talking a lot,” said Adoor, whose movies are known for their long, silent tracks.
Adoor’s Swayamvaram and Elippathayam were among the works which brought him international acclaim. One of his latest works Nizhalkuthu is, however, markedly different from his earlier films and reveals a more complex mind at work behind the camera.
Though Adoor largely stayed away from using superstars in Kerala in his movies, he did make exceptions. Mathilukal and Vidheyan , for example, starred Mammooty in a role that cemented his name in Malayalam cinema.
In a speech that lasted barely 12 minutes, Adoor refused to go beyond the personal, often pointing to friends in the audience or referring to personalities whom everybody in the small room at Mind Screen in Mylapore knew.
The book, which has chapters on Adoor’s relationships with contemporary film-makers like G Aravindan and John Abraham, was translated into Tamil by Kulachal M Yousuf. It has been published in Tamil by Kalachuvadu.
“It is very easy to translate from Tamil into Malayalam and vice versa,” said Adoor, adding he was able to speak in both languages. “I can see that the writer has done a good job with the translation,” he said.
Referring to another book about him by film critic Gautaman Bhaskaran, Adoor said it was a relief that neither of the two authors had thought of interviewing his wife. “I think she would have a lot to say about me. I am a very difficult person to live with,” he said.
“I believe it is not a great idea for an artist to spend a long time talking about himself,” Adoor said, explaining his hesitancy to grant interviews for a book on him.
Director Vasanth, facilitated an interactive session between Adoor and the audience. Actor Rohini, putting in a rare public appearance after the death of her ex-husband Raghuvaran, read out excerpts from the book.
“It was Katha, the Delhi-based publishing house, that opened my eyes to the wealth of literature in Tamil. I was surprised to find writers in the southern languages writing stories of a very high quality,” Adoor said.
(This appeared in The Times Of India on August 14, 2008 )