G Aravindan

G Aravindan was well-known to Malayalee readers much before his first film, through his cartoon serial Cheriya Manushyan Valiya Lokam, which appeared in the early 1960s. This cartoon series looked into the life of the ordinary middle-class Malayalee, his hollowness and hopes. Aravindan entered the field of films without any formal training in filmmaking or even assisting any reputed directors.

During the early 1970s, when Malayalam cinema underwent a drastic change in its perspective towards the society, G Aravindan arrived in the field of cinema with his first film Uttarayanam (1974). This film had a strong impact on the growth of the parallel cinema movement in Kerala.

During his film career spanning fifteen years, from his first film Uttarayanam (1974) to his last film Vasthuhara (1990), Aravindan maintained to keep the changing form of his films and was equally lauded and criticised by critics for the very reason.

Notable films:

Uttarayanam - 1974 - Malayalam
(Latter Phase)

Aravindan first film Uttarayanam dealt with the aimlessness and the emptiness felt by the Indian youth just after independence. It was about the journey undertaken by Ravi through post-independent India, which just boasted about the past legacies of the Gandhian era, but which actually was on the verge of an inevitable disaster.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Mohandas, Kunju, Balan.K.Nair, Adoor Bhasi
Cinematography: Mangada Ravi Varma
Music: M.B.Srinivasan

Kanchana Seetha - 1977 - Malayalam
(The Golden Substitute)

Kanchana Seetha, was an adoption of C N Sreekhantan Nair's play of the same name. Even after selecting this play as the theme of his film, Aravindan made a long journey in search of Lord Ram, as he visualized the play. His search ended in an interior tribal area of Andhra Pradesh, where he met the illiterate tribal people, who recited the story of Ramayana fluently. He found that their physical appearance resembled some murals connected to the Ramayana. Thus, Aravindan's Ram resembles a tribal leader rather than the calendar figures, which were set in the minds of the mass. Kanchana Seetha interprets the story from the epic Ramayana, where Lord Ram sends his wife Seetha to the jungle to satisfy his subjects. Here, the golden Seetha substitutes the biological one.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Ramadas, Venkateshwaralu, Chinna Pullaiah, Keshava Panicker
Cinematography: Shaji.N.Karun
Music: Rajeev Taranath

Thambu - 1979 - Malayalam
(The Circus Tent)

The film chronicles three days when a circus visits a small village in Kerala and creates ripples in the lives of the people. During this time, we learn the geography of the village - the banyan tree with leaves like transparent film, the shining water, the light in the sand at sunset…

The film shows the lives of the villagers - school children running to the tent, the village women watching the acrobat perform, the soldier who befriends the circus strong man in a toddy bar, a pump attendant who sits on a rock each day watching a village girl bathe and dry her hair, the dwarf who brings back to the circus a watermelon larger than his head…. The bizarre characters from the circus merge with the local populace.

The circus comes and leaves, and life goes on.

Thambu won Aravindan the National and State film awards for the best director.

Direction & Screenplay: G Aravindan
Cast: Gopi, Nudumudi Venu, Sriraman, Jalaja, members of the Great Chitra Circus
Cinematography: Shaji N Karun
Music: M G Radhakrishnan

Kummatty - 1979 - Malayalam
(The Bogeyman)

Kummatty is adapted from a Central Kerala folk tale about a partly mythic and partly real magician called Kummatty.

Kummatty travels from place to place and entertain children with dancing, singing and performing magic. At one such performance at a village, Kummatty turns a group of children into animals. But one boy, who was changed into a dog, is chased away and misses the moment Kummatty changed the children back to their human form. The dog-boy has to wait a year until Kummatty returns to the village to get back his human form.

Aravindan claimed Kummatty to be his personal favourite film.

Direction, Screenplay & Co-Music: G Aravindan
Cast: Ramunni, Master Ashokan, Vilasini Reema
Cinematography: Shaji N Karun
Co-Music: M G Radhakrishnan

Estheppan - 1979 - Malayalam

Estheppan, a fisherman lives in a seashore colony of fishermen. Estheppan's story unfolds through narrations of other fishermen about the miracles created by him. They create a mystical figure of Estheppan. We come to understand about the character through contradictory statements made by the fishermen about Estheppan.

Aravindan, in this film, blends together the Biblical story of the deeds of Christ and the way society responded to him, with the life of a simple man called Estheppan, whose life mystified others. Estheppan starts with a long shot of Estheppan walking through the seashore, which creates an illusion among those who saw him when he was walking on the sea. Once, when some inmates of the colony become worried about the disappearance of Estheppan, some others console them that there is nothing to worry and he will definitely come back. This gives a hint of the resurrection of Christ after Crucifixion. People thus convert the Biblical myth into reality and the real life of Estheppan is converted into a myth.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Rajan Kakkanadan, Krishnapuram Leela, Sudharma, Shobhana
Cinematography: Shaji.N.Karun
Music: G.Aravindan, Janardhan

Pokkuveyil - 1981 - Malayalam

A young artist lives with his father, a radical friend and a music-loving young woman. His father dies, the radical friend leaves him and her family takes the woman away to another city. The young artist's world collapses, he becomes prey to hallucinations and ends up in a mental asylum. The real life poet, Balachandran Chullikkadu portrays the role of the young artist in Pokkuveyil.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Balachandran Chullikkad, Satish, Ansar, Ansar, Kalpana
Cinematography: Shaji.N.Karun
Music: Hariprasad Chaurasia, Rajeev Taranath, Latif Ahmed

Chidambaram - 1985 - Malayalam

Chidambaram is a journey through the labyrinths of the human mind and relationships. It tries to find out whether the morals inflicted by the society on an individual would come in terms with his natural instincts.

The story develops mainly around three characters: Kalippayan Muniyandi (Sreenivasan), his wife Shivakami (Smitha Patil) and office superintendent Shankaran (Gopi). Muniyandi working in Shankaran's firm, believes and respects him. They become friends. But, one day, Muniyandi catches Shankaran red-handed with his wife Shivakami. Broken-hearted, Muniyandi commits suicide. Out of extreme guilt, Shankaran leaves the place and starts wandering from place to place. He tries alcohol, spirituality and all other possible methods to escape from his guilt but fails. Finally, he reaches the temple town of Chidambaram. There he finds Shivakami as a shoe-keeper in the temple.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Gopi, Smitha Patil, Sreenivasan
Cinematography: Shaji.N.Karun
Music: G.Devarajan

Oridathu - 1986 - Malayalam
(At a Place)

Set in a remote part of Travancore Cochin, Oridathu tells the story of a village where electricity arrives for the first time. The villagers find this modern innovation of man a threat to their natural way of life, as they are accustomed to the more natural resources of energy. The film depicts the narrow-mindedness and hypocrisies of village lives with humour. The film reaches a conclusion that life is better without electricity and also condones cinema as a legitimate means of expression.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Nedumudi Venu, Sreenivasan, Thilikan, Vineeth, Krishnan Kutty Nair
Cinematography: Shaji.N.Karun

Vasthuhara - 1990 - Malayalam
(The dispossessed)

Venu is a dynamic officer in the Ministry of Rehabilitation. He is in-charge of selecting refugees from Calcutta, who have reached from Bangladesh, for rehabilitation in the Andaman Islands during the turbulent period of the Bangladesh war. There, he meets the Bengali wife of his uncle, Arathi Panikker amongst the refugees, whose daughter is held in prison at Calcutta for extremist activities. Venu himself falls into great misery while trying to help his aunt overcome her troubles.

Direction & Screenplay: G.Aravindan
Cast: Mohanlal, Shobhana, Neelanjana Mitra, Neena Gupta
Cinematography: Sunny Joseph
Music: Salil Choudhury


  • Uttarayanam
  • Kanchana Seetha
  • Thambu
  • Kummatty
  • Esthappan
  • Pokkuveyil
  • Chidambaram
  • Oridathu
  • Marattam
  • Unni
  • Vastuhara

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