"When they know he is coming, their hearts should pound in fear. He should come in a vehicle that sounds like the thumping heart." Somewhere in the script of the film Spadikam, a blockbuster Malayalam action flick, writer-director Bhadran Mattel had scribbled such a line. Those words later gave birth to the iconic character of 'Aadu Thoma' or Thomachan. Twenty-five years on, director Bhadran Mattel recollects the vehicles that stole the show in the film.
From ‘Marydasan’ to ‘Chekuthan’
The constant companion of the hero in the film is a Tata 1210 SE model lorry with registration number KEK 5733. When the film begins, the vehicle had a rather pious name of 'Marydasan' (the servant of Mary), which became the infernal 'Chekuthan' (devil) as the film progresses, and by the end, to the brighter 'Spadikam' (crystal).
“The lorry was bought from Thrissur," recalls Bhadran. "Lorry is a carrier. I felt that there was no better vehicle than a lorry for a person who is a carrier of a lot of dreams and responsibilities in his mind. I was adamant about how the lorry should look; it should have the poise of a tusker. In some scenes, we used wide-angle lens to create that splendour on the screen."
“It was a second-hand lorry. For the final scenes, we bought an old lorry from Tamil Nadu that was to be destroyed using a bomb. Years later, we recreated a Spadikam lorry for my younger son Jerry's wedding. The bride and groom arrived in the church in a lorry that looked exactly like the one used in the film and with the name Spadikam," he said.
Bhadran did not want just a motorcycle for Thoma but a Bullet that would send hearts thumping. "If I recollect correctly, the Bullet was bought from Kottayam and had registration number KEK 7859. After the film, it changed hands. Recently, I got a WhatsApp message that somebody has put that Bullet on sale in Thrissur. And the price tag was a hefty Rs 5 lakh. The advert for the sale says that the bike was used by Mohanlal in Spadikam. If the Bullet of Thoma has a price tag of Rs 5 lakh, how much would his Rayban glasses fetch? I still have that glasses," said Bhadran.
No craze for vehicles
"I don't go after premium brands of vehicles. Have you noticed some cinema workers? After a film or two, you could see them buying expensive cars. When Spadikam became a super hit, I had an old Ford car. I also don't have the habit of changing cars frequently. In fact, I changed my car after several years. Now, I drive a Volkswagen Tiguan; a good car that gives full satisfaction. However, I love driving only one vehicle - JCB. When my house was under construction, I used to drive the JCB that came to level the ground. It's a wonder vehicle. Does any other vehicle in the world have the strength of a JCB?