Rajesh Raman Pillai: A directorial story left untold, unfinished

The creative maverick’s sudden demise leaves us with a sense of incompleteness
Rajesh Raman Pillai: A directorial story left untold, unfinished
Rajesh Raman Pillai: A directorial story left untold, unfinished
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In 2011, after watching the Malayalam movie “Traffic”, while coming out of the theatre in Ernakulam, I asked my mother-in-law what she thought of it. Her eyes filled with tears and she replied: “I am glad they could save that child’s (character played by Namitha Pramod) life with the heart transplant, but I really wish the boy (enacted by Vineeth Srinivasan) had not died.” This coming from a mother with three children of her own was not too hard to comprehend.

I too wished the same especially when confronted with his onscreen parents’ grief brilliantly brought out in the car scene where they receive the final confirmation that their son’s heart has been harvested.

But then if the boy had not died, there wouldn’t have been a movie like “Traffic” in the first place, as it deals with how an entire city and various people going about their daily lives are unexpectedly thrown together in a gripping tale of love, betrayal, trust and efficiency.

“Traffic” stood out not just for its brilliant handling of a medical theme which wove in and out of people’s lives but also for its fast-paced story-sequence without losing a beat. There were no lead characters per se, yet the movie abounds in well-etched portrayals that linger on in your mind well after the reel stops rolling onscreen.

“Traffic” went on to garner both critical and commercial accolades and was henceforth known as the exact benchmark which ushered in the much-needed winds of change in the Malayalam movie industry till then chugging along with its clichés and masala entertainers.

Naturally everyone was curious to know the person who wrought this cinematic miracle of a socio-thriller and were surprised to get acquainted with Rajesh Raman Pillai whose debut movie “Hridayathil Sookshikyaan” released in 2005 had failed to cause even a ripple in Malayalam cinema.

In an interaction with The New Indian Express, his wife Mekha spoke about the six intermediate years of sheer depression that Rajesh went through till 2011 gave him the exact break he was looking for through “Traffic” -his second directorial venture.

Though “Motorcycle Diaries” was supposed to be his third movie, Rajesh kept it on hold and in the mean time made another movie “Mili” which delved into an introvert’s frame of mind through the female psyche. This too garnered its own share of fame among the masses.

And then “Vettah’ –his fourth- touted as the first ever mind-game movie in Malayalam hit the screens on Friday to mixed reviews.

All his movies were visual enactments of stories which seemed to have not a shot out of place. And yet, Rajesh seems to have ventured all of a sudden into the unknown leaving us with a sense of incompleteness…with a feeling that somewhere a story was left untold…an unfinished breath snuffed out…

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