Meet two Jayan fans who run a museum and film festival for the late actor

Jayan died when Rajan and Shibu were in school, yet their admiration for the late Malayalam actor inspired them to celebrate him through art.
Rajan with a sculpture of Jayan
Rajan with a sculpture of Jayan
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Malayalam cinema's first action hero, trendsetter and first-ever male fashion icon, late actor Jayan is still an emotion for many. In the 1970s and 1980s, his hardcore fans dressed like Jayan — high-waist bell-bottom pants, partially buttoned-down red shirt and a pair of sunglasses. Many even went gaga over his much-celebrated ‘mass dialogues’ on screen. That explains why he continues to be one of the few Malayalam actors who has a strong fan base even 40 years after his accidental death during a shoot.

Meet two such fans — B Rajan and R Shibu — who celebrate the actor with a sculpture museum and a film festival respectively. They not only talk about their tribute to the actor but also recount their memories and admiration for Jayan.

Remembering Jayan through sculptures

B Rajan started a small museum for Jayan at the fine arts school that he runs in Kottayam district's Anikkad. Outside the museum, visitors are welcomed with sculptures of Jayan characters from movies like Kolilakkam and Sharapanjaram. Rajan, who is a retired Railways employee and an artist, has a huge collection of pictures and paintings of Jayan.

Every year on the actor's death anniversary, Rajan would do something different in his memory. This time, it was a picture of Jayan made from mustard seeds. "The picture was made using 14,600 mustard seeds. I chose that number as there are 14,600 days in 40 years. I started the work a month ago," Rajan says.

Rajan was 16 years old when Jayan died. His immense love towards the actor began in 1979 when he was in Class 10. Since then, he started collecting the actor’s pictures. Jayan's death was a huge shock to him. "When I was in the Railways, I conducted many exhibitions of my collections in Thiruvananthapuram, which many prominent people visited," says the Jayan fan.

Rajan's museum also has a collection of rare photographs of Jayan, newspaper stories on the actor and paintings of him. "I have made miniature structures of Jayan's house, his car and watch. I also maintain a close relationship with the actor's family," he says.

A film festival celebrating Jayan

Another hardcore fan of Jayan is R Shibu, a native of Peroorkkada in Thiruvananthapuram. In fact, residents in the region call him ‘Jayan Shibu’.

Every year, he conducts a Jayan Film Festival in Peroorkkada. He erects a small shed under a huge tree near the Peroorkkada Bapuji Library. The surface of the shed is completely covered with pictures of Jayan. He would also invite many film stars to the event and some of them attended too. This year, unfortunately, as the COVID-19 pandemic played spoilsport, he could not arrange the fest. "I've been conducting this film festival for the last 10 years," Shibu says.

What's more, Shibu is also a follower of Jayan's fitness regime when he was alive. He runs two gymnasiums for a living.

Every year, on Jayan’s death anniversary, he distributes Rs 20,00 each to 20 people with disabilities. “I had to stop this practice as well since I am contesting in the local polls this year. So it may not be right to distribute the money as it may end up becoming a controversy," Shibu says.

It was after Jayan’s death that Shibu started watching more of his movies and became a hardcore fan. He was 10 years old when Jayan died.

The biggest regret in his life, Shibu says, is that he missed a chance to meet his hero. "When we were school, Jayan had come to Thiruvananthapuram for a film shoot. My classmates and I decided to meet him. But, on the way, I got scared that my father would reprimand me and I went back home. I still regret that,” Shibu says.

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