Though Mohanlal-starrer 'Yoddha' did not set the box office ringing, the film has stood the test of time and still preserves the magic of novelty and freshness close to three decades after it hit the silver screens in 1992.
Writer-teacher Santhosh Kana, like any other movies buffs in Kerala, is fascinated about this entertaining film directed by Sangeeth Sivan. He is quite surprised how certain revelations relating to the film are becoming an integral part of his personal and creative life.
Santhosh's conviction that major part of the movie, in which versatile actors Mohanlal and Jagathy Sreekumar virtually slugged it out with their impressive set of histrionic skills, was canned in a Palakkad village which took him to a small hamlet 10 to 15km away from the city centre. And there he found the house of Thaiparamabil Ashokan (Mohanlal’s character).
The spiritual and material events, which set the stage for Ashokan to leave for Nepal as a saviour of Rimpoche of a Budhist monastery, happen in the backdrop of this village. While shooting the movie’s much-loved song ‘Padakali...’, the crew members took a breather at ‘Rama Nilayam’, a house near the Chengattur Ayyappan temple. And that was a game-changer of sorts for ‘Rama Nilayam’. Sangeeth Sivan liked the house and decided to make it the home of ‘Thaiparambil Ashokan’.
Santhosh was given a warm welcome by Vasumathi Amma, her daughter Ambili and grand-daughters, who are currently staying at ‘Rama Nilayam’. And finally Santhosh stepped into the house of ‘Thaiparambil Ashokan’, a character immortalized by Mohanlal. Everyone walked down the memory lane to recollect the film shooting moments at this house.
“This is the bedroom that was used by Mohanlal,” said Ambili to Santhosh with a glitter in her eyes. “Mohanlal was lying in this bed when he fell off from it after having an unpleasant dream. Many scenes were shot at the house for 4 to 5 days and those days were akin to celebrating a festival. Got the opportunity to interact with actors such as Sukumari, Meena, Jaganatha Varma, Jagathy, Beena Antony and of course Mohanlal,” she added.
But Hari, Ambili’s son, rued over the missed opportunity as he was a child then. His elder sister Meera can only faintly recollect the hectic shooting schedule at ‘Rama Nilayam’. Later, Meera showed a photo album that had pictures with the ‘Yoddha’ actors.
The indoor shots were canned at ‘Rama Nilayam’ and the outdoor scenes were shot at a nearby house ‘Padma Nivas’ as the former had a concrete roof. Santhosh, who has acted in Malayalam movies ‘Aadu 2’ and ‘Pretham 2, ’also shared with the family members the photos of other ‘Yoddha’ locations such as Kallekulangara and Malampuzha in Palakkad, and various places in backdrop of the astounding Western Ghats and Nepal. Santhosh has written three books including a travelogue on Nepal, in which there is a detailed chapter on ‘Yoddha’ film shooting in the Himalayan nation.
Santhosh’s tryst with ‘Yoddha’ film is not just a fascination of a movie-goer but an inexpressible relationship dotted with coincidental experience. When Vasumathi Amma served a plate of ‘unniyappam’, a traditional sweet snack, to Santhosh, she quipped, “Unniyappam for Ashokan in the movie was also prepared in this house’s kitchen.”