It was in the morning, and there I stood sodden in sweat carrying an empty oxygen cylinder in the computer science lecture hall. I wanted to flee from that chaos. All I wanted was to head home and sleep. There were classes next morning, and I needed at least 4 hours sleep.
"What the hell are you looking at? You stamped on my baby and is still waiting like a mule? I told you to go and start over again”. I had no other go. I ran back to my position and on the clap, turned myself into that edgy hospital cleaner with appalling dust allergy. Aashan kept weaving his fingers through his long hair staring through his glasses to catch the slightest mistake made in my movements. I had around 32 entries in the 30 minute drama, and had to be at my toes for the whole of rehearsal. It was tough.
It was 8 years back when we started the rehearsals of the 'Janalakkapuram' (Beyond the windows), which won the B-Tech and University arts festival for best Malayalam drama, and then went ahead to get us the 'Premji award' for the year. It all started with that initial excitement when PP came and told me about the selection for the year's drama. It was just too overwhelming for me to even attempt acting in a drama directed by a 'School of Drama' product and starring 'Kunju', the boy wonder who acted in the famous serial 'Mandan Kunju' and many movies (he was our senior in college). We were damn thrilled when PP, Appoopan and me got selected among the 8 actors in the drama. But when the actual rehearsals started, it was much different from what we had in our mind about acting. We knew that Aashan was an intellect (Buji) who was a specialist on stage direction. What took us by surprise was the seriousness and professionalism that he showed when he made students like us work on his script named 'Janalakkapuram'. Starting off with making us read the script multiple times, going through the austere routines of stretching /face exercises, and then on to the real rehearsal sessions where he used to go real wild when the smallest slip was committed. He was vigilant to the extent of checking tones and pitch variations during dialogue delivery. It was tough for us since the rehearsal used to start only 10 pm after Aashan reached some 'form' thanks to the supplements, and used to carry on till early hours. The tension grew when the actual dates of drama neared, as Aashan turned more vigorous with his approach, making us endure the toughest of rehearsals. There was constant swearing even when a minor tone was missed during our dialogue delivery. As we were collecting the dry leaves for replicating the stage during rehearsals, I and PP used to think about just quitting since the tension was starting to hit our mind hard. However, the knowledge that we were all working towards the common goal pushed us on. All the hard work resulted in jubilant triumphs in actual stage behind the curtains, as roars of applause from the crowd continued for endless moments and we won the coveted awards.
As time went by, many a times I used to wonder what our Aashan would be doing... At times I used to slip back to those memory lanes where my hospital cleaner was yelling 'Niratho? Neelathadakamo? Athu verum vazhiyanu. Mortuaryilekkulla vazhi! Mortuaryilekkulla vazhi!'. Me, Appoopan and PP would talk over these dialogs every now and then, as we sat in front of the TV in
Come 2008, there comes a news that catches my eye. It’s about a drama where Mohanlal and Mukesh were acting, and was produced by Kalidasa Vision. Named ‘Chaayamukhi’, the drama was directed by one familiar Mr. Prashanth Narayanan. Yes, it was our Aashan. Finally he was catching the headlines, reaching the pinnacles he should have scaled much earlier. Although its the presence of Mohanlal & Mukesh in a drama (after Kavalam's Karnabharam) that captured the news attention, the fact remains that the great actors was impressed by the script of Chaayamukhi....That too to an extent where they admitted they were deeply moved by the concept. That’s where the credit goes to our dear Aashan. So much talent, so much emotion towards the art form, so much of intense dedication....We all hope that this is just a beginning, and that we are going to see a director of the class of Adoor or TV Chandran. We wish you the very best, dear Aashan!