An irreplaceable auteur: Sachy (1972-2020)
A lawyer-turned-filmmaker, KR Sachidanandan, known as Sachy to all, was one of the most perceptive filmmakers in contemporary Malayalam cinema
It's not easy to deal with the loss of an inspirational figure who was seen as a ray of hope by not just filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers, screenwriters and aspiring screenwriters, but also every serious Malayalam movie buff out there. It's not easy to write about an auteur who left us at the peak of his career, after accomplishing the rare feat of delivering two successive blockbusters — he wrote one, directed the other — that too in three months. It's not easy knowing he had many more stories to tell us.
A lawyer-turned-filmmaker, KR Sachidanandan, known as Sachy to all, was one of the most perceptive filmmakers in contemporary Malayalam cinema. His films, especially those he directed, are a testament to the fact that he understood both the industry and audiences well. He was among the handful of Malayalam filmmakers who knew how to give a completely fresh spin to familiar narratives while staying within the confines of mainstream filmmaking. He had once hoped to learn filmmaking at Pune's prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, but that dream didn't materialise. He, however, more than made up for this by gaining practical knowledge from the films he was associated with. And Sachy was known to be a keen observer.
Sachy understood that cinema is a collective effort and a film's success is attributed to each member who worked on it. He was aware of his limitations and strove to be better than what he was before. He wasn't overly attached to his scripts and preferred to respect the vision of filmmakers tasked with the challenge of interpreting his material. He understood human nature and human relationships well, a quality evident in his scripts
Before the release of Ayyappanum Koshiyum, Prithviraj had told us that he was surprised by Sachy's evolution as a filmmaker. "Sachy has not written a mediocre script yet," he had remarked then. Though Sachy's scripts were dominated by men, he gave enough space for his female characters, as in Ramaleela, Driving Licence, and Ayyappanum Koshiyum. Perhaps, if he had his way, he would've made a film led mostly by women. Suffice it to say that he was an irreplaceable treasure who left us without finishing his own story.
The impact of Sachy's demise has affected many in the industry deeply. Director-actor Vineeth Sreenivasan said Sachy was a filmmaker who constantly updated himself with the times. "After watching his films, I would call him, with the deepest admiration, and ask him about his process, the books he read, and the films he watched. He was far ahead of all of us. For Ayyappanum Koshiyum, he had made an audio script for the entire film. I have heard it, and everything that you see in the film is so detailed in his audio script. I don’t know if anyone else does that in Malayalam cinema."
Screenwriter Bobby Cherian (of Bobby-Sanjay duo) said there was so much "magic" in Sachy's films. "Ayyappanum Koshiyum is the best Malayalam movie I have seen in recent times. I could not resist calling Sachy as soon as I finished watching it, though it was already 11 pm. We discussed the movie at length — the plot points, characterisations and the performances. He surely had a lot more in store for us. Malayalam cinema will miss a brilliant screenplay writer and a great director."
Supriya Menon, who co-produced Driving Licence, penned a heartfelt note to the filmmaker. "What does one write when one is bidding goodbye to a wordsmith? I did not know you so well personally, mostly as Raju’s (Prithviraj) friend and a master storyteller. Professionally we collaborated recently on Driving License and at that time, I had a chance to interact with you several times and get to know the genius that you were, nay, shall I say are," she wrote.
She added that his passing is a huge loss to the industry, his friends and family alike. "There were so many stories that were in you, so many untold gems. We will always remember you for your wonderful stories, the characters you built in them, your mirthful laugh clubbed with a mouthful of profanities! You will be sorely missed Sachy, especially by your friend Raju whom you considered your younger brother. Your light will forever shine through all those words that flowed out of you in beautiful prose. Rest in peace, dear Sachy. May your family and friends find strength in these trying times."
Miya George, who has worked in four films Sachy was associated with, said she had his blessings right from the initial stage of her career and that it's hard to accept the fact that he was gone. "Sachiettan always considered me as his younger sister. I still remember the day we met for the premiere of Driving License. He was happy and satisfied seeing the final product. He even showed me the Ayyappanum Koshiyum climax fight scene on his phone. He was in his energy mode when we spoke a few days back over the phone. Never knew it would be the last time."
Actor Sudev Nair, who played a pivotal role in Sachy's directorial debut Anarkali, called him a "true genius" who was "so gentle, calm and kind."
"I was spoilt to have started his commercial film career with him in Anarkali," he said. "This is truly our loss. He is not the person that should have left us."