Star couple Biju Menon and Samyukta Varma is much loved by the Keralite audience. A Facebook note posted by a fan, Sunil Waynes, about the couple and their courtship days is grabbing attention. The lengthy post that narrates some of the interesting incidents from the couple’s life has already become viral.
Sunil begins his post by mentioning about a Malayalam movie called Eagle which he says has long gone into oblivion. He notes that Eagle doesn’t have any place in the history of Malayalam cinema as it wasn’t artistically or financially significant. Actress Poonam Das Gupta who earned fame as a popular sex symbol both in South Indian and North Indian films had played the lead role in Eagle. Meanwhile, the male lead was a young actor called Kiran. Years later, Kiran made his mark in the Malayalam cinema as cinematographer P Sukumar who did the camera for blockbuster movies like Ayal Katha Ezhuthukayanu and Gramaphone. He also directed the movie Swa. Le which starred Dileep in the lead role. Eagle which was directed by Ambili was released in 1991 as an ‘Adults Only’ movie and didn’t make much impact.
Sunil, however, says that Eagle holds a prominent position in the Malayalam cinema for a different reason. He points out that the audience could notice a young actor in the hotel scenes between the time stamps 1:04:48 and 1:08:22. “In those scenes, you would see a lanky young man, reading newspaper at the hotel’s reception. That young man, still as handsome and fit, continues to entertain us and makes us happy with his incredible performances. The name of that actor who was seen in just two scenes in Eagle and still manages to impress us with his thick beard and appealing voice is Biju Balakrishnan. But no one might recognize that name, as he is now known as Biju Menon. Yes, Eagle which was released in 1991 was the first movie in which Biju Menon had acted. He was only 20 years old when he had acted in that movie,” writes Sunil.
Interestingly, it wasn’t Biju who first made an entry into the filmdom from his family. Biju’s father PN Balakrishna Pillai was the first person from the Madathilparambu family to act in a movie. Balakrishna Pillai had acted in around ten Malayalam movies. He essayed small roles in movies like Samasya, Njavalpazhangal, Saritha, Aswadatmavu, Mattoli, Veerabhadran, Ithum Oru Jeevitham and Rachana. Super hit movie Moonnam Pakkam directed by Padmarajan was the last movie in which he had acted. It was Balakrishna Pillai who acted as the policeman who appears alongside Thilakan in the climax of the movie.
“Balakrishna Pillai was an ordinary man who couldn’t make a mark as an actor. However, it was his son Biju who was destined to make it big on the silver screen. After Eagle, Biju mostly acted in television serials that were produced by Doordarshan. He was fortunate to have starred in two of the most popular serials of that time, Ningalude Swantham Chandu and Mikhailinte Santathikal, in the beginning of his career. Biju made his entry into the movies through the movie Puthran directed by Jude Attipetty. Interestingly, this movie was made as a sequel to the super hit serial Mikhailinte Santathikal. The screenplay of this movie was penned by PF Mathews who is known for writing movies like Ee. Ma. Eua and Athiran. The movie which was produced by actor Prem Prakash had the same actors from the serial. This was the main factor that made Biju’s big screen entry quicker and easier,” notes Sunil.
Besides Biju, actors like Chippy, NF Varghese and Rajan P Dev had essayed pivotal roles in that movie. Sunil says that it must be a first in Indian cinema that a feature film was made as a sequel to a popular television serial. However, these unique factors didn’t help the movie at all. The movie that was made with high expectations was a box office dud. The movie Puthran turned out to be a great financial loss to its producer. Moreover, the movie didn’t help Biju’s career as a new actor. Biju then acted in Samudayam which was directed by Ambili, the same director who made Eagle. Interestingly, Samudayam marked the debut of another great actor, Kalabhavan Mani.
“Biju’s antagonist roles in Highway and Mannar Mathai Speaking which were released in 1995 got him noticed. The actor then went on to play one of the lead roles in Adyathe Kanmani which was released in the same year. This was the film that ensured Biju Menon a permanent place in the Malayalam cinema industry. Many prominent film magazines of that time compared Biju to Mammootty, for his good looks and manly voice. Even when he enjoyed moderate success, Biju was never adamant that he would do only lead roles. If you examine his career, spanning almost three decades, you would notice that Biju Menon had excelled as a hero, villain, supporting actor, comedian, cameo actor, hero’s father and as a dubbing artist too,” Sunil wrote in his Facebook post.
Sunil observes that Biju Menon has now become a seasoned actor who could effortlessly pull off any role. Biju forayed into other languages when good roles came his way. Sunil says image was never a restricting factor for the actor in Biju. “It is his unending passion for his craft that rules him. The only factor he considered while choosing roles was whether the role had any merit which could draw amazing performances from him. This is the reason why Biju acted in both commercial movies and art house cinema with the same passion. He became part of good movies without fretting too much about remuneration. Even when he was enjoying humungous popularity as a lead actor, Biju didn’t hesitate to act in small movies like TD Dasan and Olapeepi. Is there any woman who hasn’t secretly loved Kannan from Ee Puzhayum Kadannu, Victor in Pranayavarnangal and Rajeev Menon in Meghamalhar? Similarly, is there a man who hasn’t admired ACP Firos Muhammad in Pathram and Gregory in FIR?” asks Sunil.
In an interesting observation Sunil notes that Biju had played the role of Victor, a young man who is deeply in love and Firos Muhammad, a feisty police officer in the same year. He then impressed as Dr Sandeep in Chithrashalabam, Shashidharan Nair in Sneham and Uthaman in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. This impeccable versatility is what the audience loves the most in Biju Menon. More than the length of the roles, the actor in Biju is only concerned about the significance of the movie in his career. That is one of the reasons why Biju became a constant presence in almost all the super star movies of that time. After almost three decades entertaining the Malayali audience, Biju continues to amaze us with his latest outing Arkariyam directed by Sanu John Varghese. Even when Biju had made his father’s dreams come true by becoming a prominent name in Malayalam cinema, the latter had always wished for his son to get married and settle down.
Many actors, including Jayaram, his co star in Millennium Stars had been asking Biju about his marriage plans. But, with his quintessential smile, he would say, “Let’s see when the right time comes”.
It was in 2000 that Biju Menon and Samyukta Varma had acted together in back to back movies. They soon became close friends. However, neither of them still knows when their friendship had transformed into love. Theirs was not love at first sight. They were together for around sixty days when they acted in movies like Mazha and Maduranombarakattu.
Biju had expressed his love to Samyukta after the filming of Mahza got over. Like in the movie, Samyukta didn’t give him a proper reply. However, both of them knew in their hearts that they were in love. While filming Mazha, Biju and Samyukta had already become two individuals who were destined to spend their lives together.
“Samyukta has always shown maturity beyond her age, even before she entered the film industry. Her fabulous achievements as an actress were the perfect reflection of this. Even though she had done only around 18 movies in a career spanning just three years, Samyukta had acted alongside all the heavyweights including Mohanlal, Dileep, Jayaram and Sreenivasan. Besides, she was a favorite of film makers like Sathyan Anthikad, Siby Malayil, Kamal, Joshiy, K Madhu, Lenin Rajendran, Mohan, Harikumar and Rajasenan. Samyukta won the state award for the best actress for her debut movie, that too when she was only 20 years old,” writes Sunil.
“The humility that she shows to her fellow beings was what had impressed Biju. While acting together, rumors were rife that the duo was dating. The media had celebrated the palpable chemistry between them. Whenever someone asked her who her favorite actor was, nudging her to name Biju, Samyukta would smile and say, ‘My favorite actor is Thilakn sir’. Meanwhile, Samyukta was moved by the amazing love and respect that Biju shows to his colleagues. After watching Mazha in the theater, an excited Biju called Samyukta and said, ‘Chinnu, I am so proud of you’. A beautiful expression of love in just a simple sentence! Those weren’t empty words that were said just to impress the other person; but they exuded love and admiration. Their love story soon became a sensation in the media. The fact that both Biju and Samyukta hailed from Thrissur too played a major role in the story grabbing traction. Moreover, both were introverts who didn’t fell for the luxuries or the limelight of the cinema industry,” said Sunil.
Even when most actors moved their base to Chennai, Biju and Samyukta couldn’t think of leaving their hometown of Thrissur. This hasn’t changed even twenty years after they had tied the knot.
Biju Menon’s father had wished to have Samyukta as his daughter-in-law. It was his dream to see Biju get married. Even when the media had celebrated stories of Biju and Samyukta’s affair, Biju’s father never asked him anything about it. Only once, during the initial days when the couple had just realized their love for each other, did Biju’s father ask him whether the rumors were true. Biju stayed silent then too. However, the father, seeing his son’s tensed face, said, “I have no problem. She is a good girl.”
Later, Biju’s father had called Samyukta without the actor’s knowledge and spoke to her. He also took the initiative to speak to Samyukta’s father and arranged everything for the wedding. But, unfortunately, he bid adieu to this world only a few days before the wedding. Those were the days when the couple realized that Biju’s sorrows were Samyukta’s too. “All those struggles had made their bond even stronger. Biju’s father had called Samyukta two days before the former passed away. The loving father had said, ‘He (Biju) is a bit lethargic and isn’t organized in life. Now, you are the one who should take care of everything’. Biju and Samyukta had begun loving each, getting drenched in the rain. As the rain eased off, they realized that they were still standing in the fabulous shower of love,” Sunil writes quite expressively.
On 21 November 2002, Samyukta Varma, who is fondly called Chinnu by her dear ones, married Biju Menon and made her grand entry to the Madathil Parambu house as wished by the latter’s late father.
Sunil even recalls something that Biju Menon had said in an interview after his wedding. Though he doesn’t remember the actor’s exact words, Sunil recalls that Biju Menon had said something like, “I don’t know whether my life would be more organized or I would be less lethargic or wouldn’t forget things anymore, now that Samyukta has come into my life. But, I am sure that she has a kind heart that anyone would fall for. That is what matters the most and what I love about her.”
Sunil concludes his post in an interesting and humorous way. He says he has written this note as he was entranced by Samyukta’s glowing beauty in the pictures that were taken during her cousin and actress Urmila Unni’s daughter Uthara Unni. Sunil, in a light hearted tone, says that he was at the same time envious and joyful seeing the blissful married life of Biju Menon and Samyukta Varma.