A brief biography about my life, how it all began, my family and some interesting trivia
Born to Sri K Sivasankara Pillai and Smt R. Lalitha Devi as their only son sandwiched by two sisters- Prema & Sushama. My father was a Station Master and he retired as a Commercial Controller from Railways. My mother was a home-maker.
Married to Varada D/O Sri P.R Raghava Menon and Smt. Indira Raghava Menon. My son Akhil Vinayak Menon, married to Nithya Rajkumar, has a daughter Ameyaa and currently based in Dubai. My daughter Bhavana, married to Dilip Ranjith, has a daughter Tanmaya and currently based in New Jersey.
MY JOURNEY, CHILDHOOD TO CINEMA
I finished my primary school education at South Paravoor, moved on to do my upper primary schooling at Kottarakkara Town UPSand finished my high school from Edava Muslim High School. I remember I put make up on my face as an actor at the age of 12 when I was chosen to do the role of ‘BHEESHMA’ for a drama. I was not convinced about the scene described to me and being an inquisitive child I enquired about its details interrupting the rehearsal. Irritated Sir impatiently asked me to shut up and warned me that I was just an actor and it was the duty of the actor to take orders from Director and obey him. This incident was more than enough to sow the seed in my mind the ‘Dream to become a Director’. At Edava I was an active participant in all cultural activities and with the help of few of my friends and well wishers we formed a Club by the name Nalanda Children’s RadioClub. While functioning as the Secretary of the club I could develop my organisational skill and creative instincts. My desire to become a director slowly began to grow and I remember that I first wrote my first story named ‘PARAMU’ at the age of fourteen. This was the base of my film I directed later in my career ‘ MANIYAN PILLA ADHAVA MANIYAN PILLA’ .
Being the school topper for my SSLC at Edavanear Varkala, I moved on to do my pre-degree course at Fatima Mata National College, Kollam. I would say that the inspiration for artistic expression was obtained from thunderous applause I received in the college auditorium.
I was the head of the college debate team, assistant secretary of the college union, some what a hero in the eyes of my college mates and a pet of many teachers who lavishly praised my performances. I was the Best Actor, Mono-actor & Singer of the college and I wrote a short story in the college magazine by name ‘ Did you go for film Menon? ’ imagining myself as a film maker…
Years later it was a proud moment in my life to be back on the stage of my college auditorium to be felicitated for winning the National Award. I still cherish the same thunderous applause I received when I sang the song ‘Swargaputri navaratri…” for the first time before the august audience in my college days. .In short I would say the ambience of Fatima days still lingers in my mind.
I fetched a distinction for my pre degree exams and incurring the wrath of my father for rejecting the seat which I was offered on merit for Medicine, I moved on to do a degree course in Geology at University College, Trivandrum only to pursue my dream to join the film institute at Poona.
I became the Arts Club Secretary and later on the College Union Chairman and thus dabbled in a bit of Politics though I didn’t have a political bend of mind. .My days at Trivandrum gave me more contacts and exposure especially in the artistic field and I got in touch with seniors in the field like Sri ONV, Karamana Janardanan Nair etc. I enacted plays namely ‘Red Street’, ‘Syamanthakam’, ‘Balikeramala’ etc and also took part in the dramas at AIR, Trivandrum. I also passed the audition for singing at AIR and hereI came in contact with Sri MG Radhakrishnan, Padmarajen, Venu Nagavally etc who were all then staff of AIR. These contacts enriched me a lot and gave me a lot of knowhow about the cultural atmosphere around me.
After my degree my father wanted me to join IAS and instructed me to attend coaching classes at Trivandrum but I decided to choose Journalism and joined the as suggested by ONV Sir, my professor, who understood my attitude and passion for Cinema. This caused a lot of friction with my father who then believed that his bright son was treading the wrong path…I joined Bharatiya Vidya BhavanInstitute of Journalism in Trivandrum so that I could continue with my Drama and other cultural activities simultaneously. I came out being the Gold Medalist in Reporting and was immediately offered a job in the ‘Times of India’ with a fat salary to begin with but I opted out of that tempting offer to join hands with NANA film weekly in Madras for a mere salary of Rs 250, only motivation was to be in the constant company of the film folk, share their experiences and watch and knowCinema my passion at close quarters.
With Radhakrishna Kurup
K J Yesudas
The First Movie Pooja Invite
My life as in Madras was very productive and the most happiest I should say. No strings attached, breathing Cinema I shuttled between studios, met all possible eminent personalities in all aspects of film-making and watched movies every now and then at the theatres. I used to be an avid film goer at theAmerican Consulate where we could watch English movies and used to be an active participant at the discussions that happened after the show. In between I was prompt at my job and earned a respectable name amongst film journalists and I could carve a niche for myself as my columns became popular. I still remember the matinee idolSri Prem Nazir at Prakash Studio asking me whether my true intentions was something else.
I also remember some others like Actor Madhu who was also a director then asking me whether I was interested to try my luck on acting. .But my mind never strayed and was only focused on my initial passion ‘DIRECTION’.
A year in Madras slowly paved the way to my career in Cinema. Through Sasi, an aspirant in acting I came in touch with his uncle Sri Radhakrishna Kurup who donned the role of a Producer, making my dream come true. It was on a Vijayadashami Day in 1977 that I began my film career with ‘UTHRADARATHRI’ with Sasi as the hero and Shobha as the heroine. The Pooja was done by none other than Ganagandharvan Sri K J Yesudas…
Forty eventful years passed by and I am still moving on…………
As I always say “I asked HIM for a Flower, but he gave Me a Garden”!