About C.P. Padmakumar
C.P. Padmakumar, film maker and director of unique quality moved among us with no claims and no pride. He was a spiritual seeker, "A mystic among film makers and a film maker among mystics" Ravikumar remembers. He came out with his debut film "The Track" in 1977, a striking piece of art harmoniously blending with deep philosophy; the meaninglessness of hope and hopelessness. He loved the tranquillity of music and the thrill of silence. He had an eye for visual beauty, the kind that makes one plunge into wonder. Every frame in his films was a masterpiece, a symphony of fine visual orchestration. It is no wonder why Aravindan picked Padmakumar as his Art Director.

He loved cinema – not just making them, but also being part of it. Thinking and talking about his new film projects always excited him, but so too did the works of his fellow filmmakers, especially those by youngsters whenever they bend the rules and extended the horizons of our experience. Padmakumar was part of all the radical endeavours in Kerala during the 70's. Inspired by the frisson nouveau of modernism in Malayalam, he ran a literary magazine Nithyatha.

He enjoyed travelling and at the same time also loved long sessions of talking and singing with friends. His evocative rendering of the Gitanjali song by Tagore in T.V. Chandran's 'Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam' is unforgettable. He always held fast to his convictions and never succumbed to pressures. When he made a documentary celebrating 50 years of Indian independence that dealt with the perceptions of the old generation, he was asked to edit out some 'objectionable' comments made by the veterans in it.

Padmakumar refused and stood by the truth of his footage. A free spirit by nature, he never worked in an institution in his life, nor did he opt for a contractual relationship like marriage.

In his films, rather than being interested in dissecting and analysing what is, he was more focused on what could be, and in creating narratives that gave expressions to the many worlds that life offered. The film projects he had in mind like 'Neelambari' and 'Paragam' were also intended as non-linear explorations about freedom and creativity. In his first film, 'Aparna' (1981), made almost at the end of the high noon on Malayalam 'art cinema', spurned the linear and tried to weave its narrative in the structure of dreams. At the centre of that spectral world was a woman waiting for her lover, a radical political activist. It was a heady mix of extremism, existentialism, and experimentation typical of the period, but in its form, the film broke the linear hegemonies, not only of film narratives, but political and aesthetic imaginations too.

His better known film was 'Sammohanam' (Enchantment, 1994) in a way a variation on the femme fatale theme set in a remote village. Here also, at the centre of the narrative is a woman who comes from somewhere beyond hills and mountains to the valley of harmony and love. She entices the men folk, Chaos and disruption followed. Only when the blood of the young and innocent is spilt, do they realize the full scale of their actions. 'Sammohanam' is the story of sacrifice of innocence in at the altar of passion that continues even to this day. Padmakumar renders this elemental theme of passion, love and violence as a finely structured and haunting narrative winning him the 'Best of the Fest' Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 1995.

As a passionate traveller, long journeys punctuated his work, energising his tranquillity. His recent film – 'Mind that Flows' – about Himalayan journeys with his brother is an attempt to capture the spirit of the jamgama in him, and the yearning for the beyond, physically in space, emotionally in mind and spiritually in the soul.

Padmakumar was a close associate of many veteran directors, including G Aravindan, Padmarajan and Bharathan. Ploughing a lone furrow, Mr. Padmakumar refused to deviate from the kind of cinema he believed in. The soft-spoken, unassuming director also acted in films like Kanchanaseetha, Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam and 'Pakal Nakshathrangal'. Padmakumar's filmography also includes a host of short films and documentaries like 'The Track', 'Mangroves of Malabar', 'Day of Silence', 'Swathanthryam', 'Neermizhikal', 'Road Safety' and 'Bhakshyasuraksha'. Padmakumar didn't demand anything from anyone or impose anything upon the world, but he was a gentle and encouraging presence whenever and wherever something different happened. "As a person Pappan was always happy and contended, and never bothered about lost opportunities. But, it is we who lost many potential works of his, if only our society had cherished them to fruition," says George. 

Just before he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he was in his element – active and in the middle of many things; all this make the exit of this gentle soul poignant and painful, especially in a world where grace and hope are becoming rare.