Cartoonist and art director Kitho's intriguing film posters had once sprawled over popular landmarks in Kochi, including bus terminals and railway stations. Be it the poster for 'Eeran Sandhya' or 'Oppol', Kitho's works have often received a lot of appreciation from both public and the film industry. Recently, Kitho's family organised an exhibition of his work, including cartoons and film posters on the occasion of his first death anniversary, which falls on October 18.
Gayathri Ashokan, screenwriter, art director and a friend of the cartoonist remembers how Kitho had tried various concepts and different poster designs in movies from the late 1970s. “Kitho started his career as a cartoonist and artist. It was I V Sasi, who discovered his talent and brought him to films. You see, I V Sasi himself was a good art designer, so he was quick to realise that Kitho had the quality to be an art director. Over the years, Kitho worked in various I V Sasi films. His ability to capture the movie themes perfectly in the movie posters were praise-worthy,” said Ashokan, adding that Kitho worked in films that handled comedy, family drama and action.
His best work, according to Gayathri, was the 'Aarorumariyathe' poster, featuring Bharat Gopi, Madhu, Karamana Janardhanan Nair and Nedumudi Venu. “K S Sethumadhavan helmed the movie, which was written by John Paul. The theme of the film was really interesting and involved three men who were being blackmailed by the driver, when they were on a tour.
In those days, most posters featured faces of the lead actors. However, 'Aarorumariyathe' was unique as it featured three horses (with the heads of the lead actors) and Nedumudi Venu (the villain) holding a whip sat on the roof of a car. I remember how the design caught people's attention when it was displayed on top of the railway station in Kochi. Many would stand there for minutes,” he said.
His title poster for 'Oppol', the adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair's short story was also praise-worthy. “Oppol dealt with a young boy who thought he was being raised by his elder sister, when in fact, it was actually his mother. The title of the poster was written in a child's hand as if he had written it on a slate. That title design had so much depth. Unfortunately, it was only displayed for a few days, and was replaced by another title design, since the filmmakers felt it was not comprehensive enough,” he said.
Kitho has also designed posters for films like 'Vellarikka Pattanam', which featured Prem Nazir in the lead. “The film was humorous and so was the poster design. It showed the female artiste watering plants in the rain while holding a camera. It still makes me laugh,” said Ashokan.