Honour for an influential filmmaker

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BY Sreejith Kamalanayanan

K G George is back in news after a long time when they announced this year’s J C Daniel award for the veteran director. The younger generation might be wondering who this George is? We recently started celebrating the films of Padmarajan, the late director who along with George and Bharathan was in the forefront of the new wave of Malayalam films in the 70s and 80s. But forgetting a genius filmmaker like George is so unfortunate and an award at this stage is much deserved.

K G George has always been a criminally underrated director who deserved much more attention than he actually received. George, along with his fellow film makers, has been instrumental in giving a new direction to the Malayalam films which had been hitherto mired in melodrama.

George was born into a typical lower middle class family in Kerala. He went to Pune to study films from the country’s top most film institute. His family background helped George understand the psyche of Keralites and the institute provided him an opportunity to develop his own language for cinema.

The 70’s was a turbulent time worldwide with radical political changes and events changing the course of history and India was no different. George’s films avoided conventional family dramas that was in vogue and broke new ground by exploring the psyche of the times.

Yavanika, Irakal and Adaminte Variyellu are considered George’s masterpieces. Yavanika was a murder mystery while Irakal a crime drama with political overtones .Adaminte Variyellu dealt with feminist themes though George never identified himself as a feminist.

Yavanika traces the missing of a table artist on the backdrop of a theatre company. As the investigation progresses the violent side of the missing character is revealed to the audience. The film is conceived as a police procedural with stellar performances from Gopi, Mammootty and Thilakan.

Irakal attempted to narrate the notorious ‘Emergency’ declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and its impact on the nation. But George did not want to depict theme so directly instead he imagined India as a family and analysed how power and violence lead to chaos.

He was also instrumental in giving a career boost to Mammootty(Yavanika, Mela), Thilakan(Yavanika, Kolangal) and Sreenivasan(Panchavadi palam, Mela). His last outing “Ilavankode Desam’ was a critical and box office disaster prompting him to retire from active filmmaking.

The JC Daniel award is a deserving albeit delayed honour for one of themost influential filmmakers of Malayalam. Moviebuffs who are yet to discover this master can begin by watching Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback, Panchavadi palam, Matoraal and then progress to Adaminte Variyellu, Irakal and Yavanika.

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