Thiruvananthapuram: The opening ceremony of a retrospective segment of veteran actor Sharada's films at the ongoing 24th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) turned out to be an occasion of emotional outpouring and overwhelming memories.
Inaugurating the session at Sree Theatre, master filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan recollected the days of shooting the film Swayamvaram, which earned Sharada the national film award for best actress in 1972.
In a lighter vein, Adoor remembered how Sharada put him in trouble by seeking Rs 25,000 for acting in the film. In her reply speech, Sharada apologised to Adoor for the incident, 49 years after it happened.
The words of both Adoor and Sharada were filled with mutual respect and admiration.
“Sharada is known for her characters of sad women in Malayalam cinema. I remember my brother's child crying seeing Sharada on a cinema screen. We asked her why she was crying when Sharada was not sad in the film. She said, Sharada will cry for sure, later if not now,” Adoor said, triggering laughter among the audience.
“When I decided to make Swayamvaram, I wanted Sharada to act in the female lead role along with Madhu. I approached Sharada through our production controller. Then she demanded Rs 25,000 which was a huge amount then as the total budget of our film was only Rs 2.5 lakh. We found the amount by cutting the payment of the director and the scriptwriter,” Adoor said as Sharada looked stunned.
Later, Sharada said she could not remember the episode and she wanted to apologise to Adoor if she had hurt him. Sharada said after acting in Swayamvaram, she had told someone to tell Adoor that the film will definitely win some award.
“I didn't know I would win an award. Eventually, both me and Adoor sir won the national awards for the film.”
She said she was a bit nervous while acting in Swayamvaram as it was her first art film. “Whenever I did some overacting, Adoor would come to me and say gently to tone down a bit,” she said.
Adoor also remembered casting Sharada for Elippathayam, 10 years after Swayamvaram. “That time, there was no talk about payment,” he said.
Sharada thanked Kerala for making her what she is.
Swayamvaram was screened as the first film in the retrospective segment. The print version of the film was screened using a projector.
Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal, filmmaker Siby Malayil, actor Sithara and IFFK curator Bina Paul attended the event.
A book on Sharada, edited by Anu Pappachan, was released by Adoor at the event. Sithara received the first copy.
Other films to be screened as part of the retrospective are Adoor’s Elipathayam, K S Sethumadhavan’s Yakshi, P Bhaskaran’s Iruttinte Athmavu, Mooladhanam, Bharathan’s Oru Minnaminuginte Nurunguvettam and A Vincent’s Thulabharam.
Sharada won the national award for best actress for Thulabharam (1968) and Teleugu film Nimajjanam (1977) also.