Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Stuntman

The faded picture here shows me as a stuntman in an old Malayalam movie. I polevaulted on to the 10-foot-high wall of a fortress in that film for Prem Nazir. In the picture you see me wearing Nazir's costume. I was studying third year BSc at that time. The entire class, including four of our teachers, had come to see the shooting of me jumping over the leaping fire in the moat around the fortress to reach the top. It was a crucial scene. On reaching the top of the fortress and vanquishing a demon rested Nazir's chances of winning Sheela's hand. He pulls out a flagstaff, his expression displaying his determination and lunges forward. From that moment the shot is from behind and I take over the action. I did the jump clean first chance. Looking back I see how risky it was. There would never have been a second chance. The entire shooting crew applauded when I landed on top of the fortress. My classmates too applauded. Among them was a girl whom I had loved from the time we were in school. I remember seeing her eyes sparkle when stunt director Thyagarajan hugged me for the perfect jump. "My hero!" her eyes said...

I found this picture the other day when I was searching for my certificates among my old papers. The writing at the bottom-left corner of the frame says the picture was taken on February 5, 1977. Jijo Punnoose (son of Navodaya Appachan and director of 'My Dear Kuttichathan') took the picture. It is his handwriting. He was one of my classmates. There were four of us always moving as an inseparable team while in college. He was one of them. Another team member Anil Surana is now a prosperous businessman in Bangalore. Anil, after leaving college, acted in a couple of Jijo's films. The fourth was Raju, whose daughter Navya Nair is a very fine film artiste--in fact, the leading heroine of Malayalam movies until two years ago when she stopped acting following her marriage.

The girl with the sparkling eyes about whom I spoke is now a grandma. In the class the day after the shooting, Jijo gave this photo to her. You may notice that the photo is slightly torn at the bottom left corner. I had tried to snatch it from her hands, causing the damage. She had preserved the picture all these years along with our certificates and some other miscellaneous papers, including certain very embarassing poems I had written to her those days.

*****

37 comments:

Balachandran V said...

I remember you telling me about this! And that costume! :-D

Wonderful memories!

P. Venugopal said...

yes, Balan, wonderful memories. life is beautiful, isn't it? i could have tried my luck more seriously in films those days because of Jijo. in fact, half in jest, he even offered me a role when he was working on the script of 'Kuttichathan'(in 1978?). but acting in films meant mixing with sundry women, perhaps even kissing them. i was so terribly in love with a particular girl that i could not even think of doing it.

Anonymous said...

Venu, you are still the same. Instead of 10 ft., you are hovering over deep chasms these days!! By the way, Jijo was my friend also in YMCA Tvm.

Kalpana said...

Life is truely beautiful...
Yesterday we all were having a similar discussion and I started reflecting on the past and realised that how all these days life had pampered me with its gifts...my parents, siblings, friends, work and everything else I felt it was unfair to feel that I was unfortunate.

P. Venugopal said...

who is my anonymous friend who knows i am hovering over deep chasms these days? you are also right about me having never changed. i have an interesting theory: none of us actually ever change. i have of late become aware that there has been no change over the past five decades or so in the way i react to situations of similar nature. this should be true about all of us. just go back into your own life and you will be surprised how true it is.

P. Venugopal said...

yes, Kalapana, it is unfair to ever think we are unfortunate. there is nothing like being alive to experience life. when we are alive, vibrant, there is no misfortune, only the bliss of being, flying.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Ha ha ha ha... can't believe it! And by the way which was the movie, Ponnapuram Kotta? :)

P. Venugopal said...

No, Kannappanunni. But the title does not matter. I could have walked into any of Udaya's or Navodaya's movie because of Jijo. In fact, a certain portion of Alappuzha's male population (between the age of 18 and 80) those days were film stars, having appeared in the Vadakkan Pattu movies under these two banners holding swords and shields to perform the duties of sentinels at the gates of big fortresses or some such key role.
The same could not be said about Alappuzha's female population. The girls came mostly from Kodampakkam for completing the cast as those dancing away from the left of the frame to the right in the far background carrying water pots on their hips as the hero and the heroine sing their customary duet.

S D Biju said...

Great hero Nazeer VENU. It is a wonderful find along with your certificates after several years. Wish you all the best for your "certificates"

Joe A Scaria said...

Must say you haven't had a stunted existence in media, either!

Your grand daughter's pic may be a pointer to your age, but I can see the fire in you is blazing as always.

Joe A Scaria

Sorcerer said...

aha!!
That's some Facts...amazing!
So you are a stunt double..cool!A Jet lee back then.

So I was talking to a celebrity, when you called me today evening.

Campus days ..nostalgic..

I miss those parippu vada and tea.

P. Venugopal said...

blushes, Sorcy, blushes (to borrow one of your expressions).
my pop had taught me to be always modest. you never know to whom you are talking to. he might be the plumber who could fix the leak. and you show no respect. we should think beyond the parippu vada the next time.

and Joe, i forgot to include this in my CV.

and my frogman friend, i watch you to learn how to transcend oneself with the leap.

Gouri said...

Thank you Venu, for having let me share this wonderful moment in your life! My God, I can't believe you did that just because your friend gave you a pole and asked you to do it! I am sure you did it because somebody with sparkle in her eyes was watching you...

Brother, more than your having cleared that awesome height, I am charmed by what you did to see the sparkle in her eyes all your life... Did I get you right there?

P. Venugopal said...

Looking back, Gouri, I realise I have been a queer person right from my childhood. I will take a tilt at any windmill. I cannot say I did it to impress her. I do everything spontaneously and reap the result, good and bad. Nowadays I even realise both good and bad are the same--everything is bliss, whichever way it evolves. Only the thrill of the flight is real. The girl I mentioned is my wife Ambi, as you have guessed, and travelling together in life this far we are beginning to sychronise beautifully. And I tell you it is inconceivable for any female member of the species to synchoronise with a huband who is along the path of let go, who is cruising along unpredictably. In our circle, I find only Pappan's case similar.

bluebird said...

Some tale indeed! And unlike most, it even has a happy ending. What more can one ask for?

P. Venugopal said...

happy continuation, doctor, happy continuation...(touch wood). where are you now? i lost your phone number.

Sumi said...

OMG!! wudnve hav imagined u, of all, having such a 'heroic' history. i mean, its much easier to try imagining u sitting under a tree with a notepad and scribbling away or strolling the corridors of library..but this, this was so cool!! :)

P. Venugopal said...

sumi, that is why i wanted you to read it. lot of misconceptions about me. i am agile, flexible. even now i entertine the children at the Central stadium where we play sunday cricket by walking on my hands. none of them can do it. i can do it 25 metres at a stretch. i can wriggle both my ears. i can also produce the crooning sound of the dove (like the one on the rafters of our classroom once) without the slightest suspicion of an expression on my face.

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

i have heard this story before - but not about the girl with sparkling eyes:-)

should have aimed at olympics!

P. Venugopal said...

it may seem unbelievable ma'm, but this post and the comments say the whole story of my life. i was the college athletic champion all through my college days, the district champion, the college captain for both athletics and cricket, winner of couple of medals at State amateur athletic meets, the district cricket captian, a member of Kerala south zone senior cricket team (which those days was virtually the Kerala Ranji team), and was, in fact, on the very verge of becoming a State cricket team member by the time i reached third year B.Sc., when i stopped everything and joined a factory as a supervisor with the help of my fried Anil Surana, whose father was then the chief executive of a spinning mill. i started work the day after i finished the examinations so as to be ready when that girl completed her higher studies in a university far away virtually exiled on account of the issue mentioned. i did not study any further and i was ready when she finished her higher studies and we got married at the age of 22 and have been living happily ever after, happy with what i and she do for a living, happy with our children, happy with everything... God willing.
you have met her.

P. Venugopal said...

my wife does not read the comments. otherwise whe will say blah, blah, blah at such passion... it is only we are quietly happy now after all the bumps we have taken over the past 32 years together... my God, i am not going to delete these comments although i sound like a 17-year-old.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Ha ha ha ha... 'Big' Brother is watching... :)

P. Venugopal said...

ha ha ha, Arun. Big brothers don't scare me! That's another problem with me--Don Quixotism, always taking a tilt at any windmill in sight.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

Hello Sir,

Good morning !!

Snaps .. black and white ... me loves seeing !

Sadly, can't comment much as the movie you mention is strange to me.
However, enjoyed reading your narration :)

P. Venugopal said...

good morning, Deepa! i saw your comment for me in Sorcy's diabolics too, but am softly moving out since i should not distract him too much from his daily sorceries. i am overjoyed your coming here and finding matters okay. some people have been expressing doubts. what do they know?

MTaI said...

Dear Mr. Venugopal,
This is truly beautiful.
Thank you for sharing.

P. Venugopal said...

Thank you, MTal, dear friend.

MTaI said...

Hello Mr. Venugopal,

I've posted a comment for you on Sorcs' blog.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

we never knew about your acrobatic skills...with your charisma ,you could have made it in films ..fascinating reading

P. Venugopal said...

thanks, sankarji. it might still not be too late. T.V. Chandran had promised me the lead role in his next film in return for a pint of rum smuggled from Press Club on a dry day three-four years back. the 'next film' has come and gone, but he might be reserving me for his magnum opus.

Unknown said...

Hello Venu,
Beautiful...
TK Rajeev Kumar
Film Maker
I started my career
as the Assistant director to Jijo in My Dear Kuttichathan

P. Venugopal said...

Thank you, Rajeev Kumar, for stopping by! Have admired you from far, knowing you from the time you used to frequent the Indian Coffee House (25 years back?), without you knowing me.
Call me when you want a difficult stunt job done!

Shahji Madhusudana Kurup said...

Venu Chettan, Great Narration..,You inspired us in everything ranging from Cricket to Photography in those days..,

P. Venugopal said...

i know you enjoyed reading it. shared memories as life keeps flowing...

Anonymous said...

As i was commuting back from work yesterday (1 long hour misery) I saw this article accidentally. It took me down to a nostalgic trip. Even though I was too young to remember this incident, later on I remember Achan giving us a brief of this scene when v saw this movie in a VCR player. I remember fondly that you were always attached to kids and would often crack jokes and play with us when ever we met you during our school holidays.
U thought us to make a kite and we flew it near the old ice factory in punnapra and remember teaching me the basics in cricket.
One thing my dad and mom always compares me with you even today is my tenancy to forget things like you do at times ( i take it as a compliment) but wd e konw that we have an elephants memory when it come to important incidents
I wish and hope you remain the same chitappan we all know even though v have not interacted much off late.

sureshbabu p said...

dear venu,
i remember you telling of this incident sometime back at sanketham. but then you didn't mention the girl with sparkle in her eyes watching you heroism. i read it only today when i accidentally saw your blog. it's a touching narrative.i think you still can have a try in cinema.

P. Venugopal said...

dear suresh...i was thinking--however small and insignificant our lives are, each one of us have certain highlights when we look back. the other day i met a 90-year-old man who, on meeting me on a lonely road during my morning walk and liking my face, stopped me like the ancient mariner in Coleridge's poem and told me his story. he was a tailor and the highlight of his career was that he had stiched a 'jooba' once for Sir C.P.
The diwan liked his stitching so much that he patted the young tailor on his back said: "This is superb. None had ever made such a fine jooba for me."
i had trouble extricating myself from his hold to resume my morning walk.