John Abraham

With just four films in his credit, John Abraham created a strong impact in Malayalam Cinema. John made his first feature film Vidyarthikale ithile ithile in early 60s. Though John himself branded this film as a third rated movie, it was his first step towards meaningful cinema.

His second film, in Tamil, Agraharathil Kazhuthai, is considered as one amongst the best films in Indian cinema. John made an attack on feudalism through his third film Cheriachante Krurakrithyangal in which he made use of biblical symbols to narrate the story. John's last film Amma Ariyan was produced by a group of youngsters who mobilized money from villagers and farmers who loved John as he lived with them as just an ordinary man.

John died in a tragic accident in May 1987.


Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile - 1972 - Malayalam
(Students, this way)

During a football match at school a schoolboy breaks the statue of the school's founder. Raju is held responsible for this. He is given two choices, either pay for the damage or face expulsion. The boys get together and earn the money by polishing boots, selling lottery tickets and so on. The school's principal is impressed with this and the management decides to repair the statue with their own money and spend the money earned by the boys for an excursion. Shortly afterwards during another football match they break the statue again.

Direction: John Abraham
Screenplay: M Azad
Cast: Adoor Bhasi, Manorama, S V Ranga Rao, Jayabharathi
Cinematography: Ramachandra
Music: M B Srinivasan

Agraharathil Kazhuthai - 1977 - Tamil
(Donkey in the Elite Colony)

Made in Tamil, Agraharathil Kazhuthai is considered as John's best.

One day, a donkey arrives at Prof. Narayana Swamy's house. Narayana Swamy decides to look after the donkey and keep it in his house. He appoints a girl to take care of the donkey. The entire narrow-minded uppercaste people in his village turn against him and the donkey. Some untoward incidents happen in the village, which are blamed on the arrival of the donkey in the village. One day the donkey is accidentally killed.

But then some miracles happen in the village. People start believing that it was the blessings of the donkey, which brought about these miracles. The donkey turns to an idol of worship. The skull of the donkey is recovered and worshiped by the same people who killed it. The film ends with the scene of the donkey skull and subsequently the village catching fire.

Direction & Screenplay: John Abraham
Cast: M.B.Srinivasan, Swathi, Savitri, Raman Veeraraghavan
Cinematography: Ramachandra
Music: M B Srinivasan

Cheriachante Krurakrithyangal - 1979 - Malayalam
(Cruelties of Cheriachan)

John, having deep knowledge in Marxist and Christian values, made his third film, Cheriachante Krurakrithyngal using some Biblical symbols in the backdrop of Kuttanadu, his home land.

Cheriyachan, a landlord feels threatened by industrialisation and the leftist activities. But when he witnesses the police atrocities on poor peasants, feel of guilt engulfs him and he feels responsible for the guilt of his entire class. He is last seen up a coconut tree trying to keep away from the police. A peasant's movement against the feudal system also lies in the backdrop of the film.

Direction & Screenplay: John Abraham
Cast: Adoor Bhasi, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Poornima Jayaram, Abraham Joseph, Venu
Cinematography: Madhu Ambat
Music: Johnson

Amma Ariyan - 1986 - Malayalam
(To Mother)

John and his friends constituted the 'Odessa Collective' to mobilise funds for this film. Amma Ariyan was made as a people's film using small amounts received from illiterate villagers and labourers.

The film evolves as a letter written by a son to his mother. Purushan makes a long journey to his friend Hari's house to inform his mother about Hari's death. During his journey, Purushan meets many people who knew Hari personally. All of them have different memories about Hari. They too join Purushan in his journey to meet Hari's mother. Finally, they meet Hari's mother and inform her about her son's death.

The film is made in a documentary style. New characters appear often in the course of film, each giving some new meaning, discussing different ideologies. John used this film to discuss his personal ideologies, which give a street speech like appearance to the film.

Direction & Screenplay: John Abraham
Cast: Joy Mathew, Maji Venkitesh, Nilambur Balan, Harinarayanan, Sara Thomas
Cinematography: Venu
Music: Sunitha

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