Published: 22nd June 2020
A poet, a theatre buff, an introvert with a rebel's face: How Sachy's classmates from Malliankara remember him
Filmmaker Sachy was a student at SNM College, Malliankara from 1987 to 1989. He passed away due to cardiac arrest on June 18
On Sunday, a group of classmates, all in their mid-forties clicked a link to enter a certain Zoom meeting. With teary eyes, dry throats and blank expressions, they entered the meeting. There was a sense of emptiness, a void, which simply could not be filled. A void that their dear classmate Sachy had created a few days ago when he succumbed to cardiac arrest on June 18. The pandemic is not contained, the lockdown is in place and all of them live in different parts of the world — this was the only possible way for his old friends to pay him a tribute.
Filmmaker K R Sachidanandan, popularly known as Sachy, the man behind blockbusters like Ayyappanum Koshiyum and Anarkali was a pre-degree student at SNM College, Malliankara, from 1987 to 1989. Fresh out of school, he was barely 16, when he walked into the college campus, to meet these friends of his for the first time. Sachy was probably introduced to activism and the communist ideology there, a campus that boasted of activists like academic Sunil P Ilayidom.
The college is located in Ernakulam district in Kerala
"He was an introvert with a rebel's face. He was petite, came to college dressed in a single-layered Mundu and shirt and a book hung between his upper arm and torso," recalls Abdul Wahid, his batchmate. Sachy studied Commerce, while Wahid studied Science, but the two believed in the ideologies of the same organisation, SFI.
However, Sachy was someone who stood firm by his views and did not fear speaking up, even when his views contrasted with the ones that the other comrades believed in. Wahid recalls an incident where Sachy raised his voice against the SFI once. "Sunil P Ilayidom was a member of the SFI-led Students' Union then. He was once beaten up by a political rival. The SFI condemned the move but did not take a solid stand against the attacker. Sachy was quite unhappy and led a rebellion against the organisation," he says. This was when the college saw the rise of a firebrand, who broke the shell of introversion. He was fearless, fierce even, they say.
Sachy during his college days
Sachy wrote a lot of poems back in college. Some of them even made it to the college magazine. "However, he never bothered to take part in a competition," says Rashmi K M, another batchmate of his. Both Rashmi and Sachy later went on to study law, but in different colleges. "Even though we were of the same age, I always thought of Sachy as a little brother. I was good friends with his sister, who was also part of the SFI. I got introduced to him through her," she says.
Going three decades back in time, Rashmi laughs, when she tells us that Sachy was the reason for the college to not give her a conduct certificate on time. She tells us the reason. "We had both joined college after studying in a Malayalam-medium school and had a tough time grasping the English lessons. I used to go for tuitions and would write down the meanings of complicated words in Malayalam in the book. Once Sachy had to skip classes and had to catch up on the lessons. So, his sister asked me if I could help him out. I obliged," she says. Now, this was in the 80s and society wasn't quite progressive. "Our college often made a big deal out of boys and girls talking to each other. So, one day, I was explaining the lesson to Sachy, sitting on the steps, when the teachers raised their voice. We immediately told them that we were only studying. However, I had to apologise to them, to get my conduct certificate. Today, it is something that makes me laugh," she adds.
A poem called Unniyude Katha (Translates to Unni's Story) penned by Sachi for the college magazine, during the first year of his pre-degree
Years later, when these friends met each other and decided to stay in touch through a WhatsApp group, Sachy was added too. He remained silent for a long time and left the group abruptly one day. "He would have been too busy," says Jeevaraj, who studied with Sachy in school and college. "However, we always discussed his movies in that group, including the latest Ayyappanum Koshiyum," he says.
Jeevaraj tells us how he could spot a few conversations that he had with Sachy, reproduced in the film. Wahid, on the other hand, could see a lot of resemblance between Sachy and the film's protagonist Ayyappan Nair, a firm and serious police officer, portrayed by Biju Menon. "Sachy and I were both part of a play called Aham Brahmasmi, where he played the part of a young Namboodiri and I acted as a film director. He was crazy about theatre even then," recalls Jeevaraj.
Sachi with Biju Menon, who portrayed Ayyappan Nair, in the sets of Ayyappanum Koshiyum
"He never constantly kept in touch. He was quite aloof. After college, we got in touch in 2015, when I worked as the manager of the Grand Hotel in Ernakulam. He would come there often and we spoke for hours. Around that time, we also had a reunion in school, where we helped build a few new blocks and paid tributes to teachers. But later, I moved to work in another hotel on the outskirts of the city. That's when I lost him again," he says.
And thereby hangs a tale. Of a man lost too soon and a firebrand artist whose work will forever enthrall audiences in posterity.