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Hats off to Nair Sir

“So when did you decide to become a filmmaker?” I do not have this one eureka moment where such a decision was made. While I was at Pune University doing my post-grad in Communication Studies, we used to go to the National Film Archive of India for screenings of splendid films – Indian and international. Here is where I first witnessed the works of Kieslowski, Kurosawa, Fellini, Bunuel, Tarkovsky and so many inspiring others.ย  We would reach early, remove our shoes at the entrance and then keep as silent as possible -almost like we were entering some sacrosanct place of worship. And it was worship of a different sort that started there. Something that continued into our post screening discussions for the next few days. But the most impactful movies would leave us speechless. Usually the screenings started at about 5:30 PM so when they ended it would be dark outside. I remember quietly carrying the film in my head as I walked back with my group into the street-lamp lit Law College Road and then turned into the darker longer Senapathy Bapat Road – at the far end of which I lived. That walk was filled with thoughts and emotions injected by the film and somewhere on those walks, the idea of becoming a filmmaker sedimented within me. As Wikipedia says, the NFAI “was developed from scratch by Mr.P.K.Nair”, so he has to receive some credit for the transformation of the many who found inspiration there.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.53.42 pm

Nair Sir has done wonders for cinema in India. Please read here to know more : P.K.Nair – the Quint article But over and above that he was a truly warm and wonderful person.

I am fortunate to have been taught by Nair Sir both inside a classroom and outside. The classroom lectures were at the Pune University where he was among the guest faculty at our Department of Communication Studies. But I learned much more from him later. When I was trying to put together my first film Manjadikuru, I met Nair Sir at IFFI Goa. He read my script and gave me some precious feedback. But most importantly he said – “Anjali, you have to decide if you are making the film for a Malayalee audience or an international audience. It will affect every decision you make.” In two lines he had summed up the value of “sensibility” while making a film. I learned how right he was at every stage of making the film. It is a lesson I have held close to heart.

He was the first person to see Manjadikuru, in a dark edit room at Chitranjali. The audio work was not done and he minced no words about having to see it half-done. Yet when Manjadikuru had its premiere at IFFK Thiruvananthapuram, he was among the audience at Kalabhavan. I was thrilled to see him there and ran back inside to get his feedback. I still remember his wide smile and the warm clasp of his hands as he expressed his happiness – he didn’t mince words this time either. That was him. Only the film mattered.

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One of the special sights at IFFI & IFFK was to find Nair Sir seated somewhere on a chair, accompanied by his daughter, holding his audience of people who went to greet him. I was touched every time he recognized me and asked me about my work. His passion for cinema was truly phenomenal and am so glad that “Celluloid Man” was made. Yet he deserved so much more for all that he has done.

However this is not a condolence note, I believe we need to celebrate his life, his zeal. I quote Anil Zankar – “Nairsaab has not left a voidโ€ฆ he laid a strong foundation for the preservation of Indian film that must be made more robust in the years ahead โ€“ award or no award.”

Hats off to Nair Sir. Respect.

Comments: 14

  • Tejavardhan March 9, 201611:21 pm


  • Nidheesh Balan March 9, 201611:43 pm

    Thanks Chechi , good to know about such wonderful personalities

  • Backer Mca March 10, 20162:13 am

    Nice one

  • jichnu kishna March 10, 20161:24 pm

    THANK Uuuu….. for introducing
    As always, u shine with words on describing.

  • Konat Venugopalan March 10, 20164:14 pm

    A touching obituary to a doyen to be remembered

  • sabucaryn March 10, 201610:14 pm


  • Sridharan March 11, 20169:33 am

    Dear Anjali Menon,

    It was indeed a very good information about PK Nair. The name coincides with the name of my Father in Law as well.

    I would be very thankful for your guidance to my son Ashwin, who is so bent on taking up Film making as his Life and Career. He is only 17 years doing Pre-Engineering now. He wants to take up under graduation in USA and Masters from London Film School. He has enough information about you and is willing to meet you either in India or in UAE when you are here. I am an Engineer, working in Abu Dhabi.

    I am sure a meeting with you will give a kick start in him and show him the right pathway in the Film world.

    I would appreciate receiving a line of reply regarding this.

    Kind Regards,

  • Rajesh March 11, 20163:59 pm

    Instead of him, the Phalke award goes to an actor who sang ‘nationalistic’ songs. Our times of India.

  • Sreekanth March 20, 20162:03 pm

    Hello madam

    I have big request pls list your favorite 25 world films and books it wiil be a great start for aspirants like me

    Please Please Please

  • sharon April 23, 20161:52 pm

    Hello Anjaly Mam..
    Not very sure about what to write to you..but I was so in love with your views on “How NRI kids ” are.. I thought of writing a few lines to you..
    being NRI kids myself I met with the same tupe of dilemmas….
    My life was kind of a mess for the next few years..It was always a confusion between whether to act like a true kerelite..or to present “myself” to the people..which was a mixture of some insecurities of a (gulf brought up kid)/the pain it takes to adjust to kerela without all the luxury that was showered on me back at saudi..
    Having said all that I do love kerela for its wonderful culture and traditions…
    So just like you, I have found my space in this society..Its not perfect …but it sure is wonderful..
    Lots of Love from a FORMEr
    “NRI KID”

  • Shalini Nair April 27, 201610:06 am

    Hi Anjali chechi,

    Shalini, your sister from Mumbai here. Not met since long but good to see you being active in blog in spite of your busy schedule.
    You have provided all of your readers a great insight about your GURU Nair sir. Hats off to you first for respecting your teachers and not forgetting them in your success journey. May god bless you for more success!

  • muraleedharan June 8, 20166:31 am

    attractive cutee

  • Jishnu R Krishnan June 17, 201610:23 am

    As usual inspiring……..

  • Shahul hameed June 29, 201612:53 am

    Enik mamnte movies valare ishtamayi “manjadikkuru” bangalore days,
    Ente name shahul enik acting ariyilla.but
    Mamnte movie kandapol our agraham.agraham pazhayathanu oru scene.nombarapeduttunna oru scene.pls mam,oru aniyente agraham ennareethiyil. pls.9846115475

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