April 18 (1984)
April 18 was a landmark movie in popular Malayalam cinema, for a lot of reasons. It marked the debut of Shobana in a leading role in Malayalam cinema, and was also the first movie of Bharat Gopy with film maker Balachandra Menon. The story regarding the circumstances that led to Bharat Gopy accepting the latter’s offer to act in his production is by now part of Malayalam movie lore.
|Shobana ( Debut in a Leading Role in Malayalam Films )
|“Maniyan Pillai ” Raju
|Baiju ( Debut Role )
|KJ Yesudas, Janakidevi
Sub-Inspector Ravikumar and wife Shobana are newly married, much against her millionaire father’s wishes and visible antagonism. Ravikumar is popular with the local community and his colleagues for his sense of fairness and his impish sense of humor, which at times lands him in predicaments. His generosity in supporting a lady friend in a secretive manner as the situation demanded it, soon reaches the eyes and ears of his wife. The father-in-law takes this as the perfect excuse to extricate and redeem his daughter from this dreary middle-class existance and files for a divorce, much against her wishes. The Civil court reserves its judgement for an April 18, which also happens to be their wedding anniversary, their first, to be exact.
A Movie Clipping from April 18 (1984)
Kaalindee Theeram Thannil
Director Balachandra Menon on the making of April 18
Director Balachandra Menon on the making of April 18.
Way back in 1983, Late Mr. Augustine Prakash from Trichur approached me to make a family picture. Unlike other producers, he was innocent and had childlike mood swings. He was in a hurry to know the story of the film so that he could proceed with other formalities. I was engaged in the film “PRASNAM GURUTHARAM” at the time and working round the clock to release it on time. Prakash met me a few times during the recording and dubbing of “PRASNAM GURUTHARAM” and I wasn’t in a position to even give him a hint of what I was planning for him. I could watch from his face and voice that PRASNAM was slowly snowballing into GURUTHARAM in his mind.
When I was in Prasad Studio with the re- recording of “Prasnam Gurutharam,” I came to know that Prakash has landed from Trichur. I had nothing in my mind as a story to deliver to him. Music Director Raveendran was engaging me totally for suggestions to finish the background score. Reasonably heavy Prakash (as in the photo) deposited himself in a corner chair straight in my view point like a huge PRASNAM. I asked Raveendran to be the go-between and get another extension for the story. Prakash agreed to postpone the story session, but he wouldn’t go back to Trichur without the title of the film.
“It is no problem for him. He is famous for catchy titles. I will go back with a good one so that I can pacify my wife, Jessey” – he said.
I was in a fix. How can I give a title before finalizing the story?
But I had to…I had no other go…..
“Sir… I have taken theatres for April 14 Vishu release. You have to speed up. Now, give me my title…Let me catch my train to Trichur”- he said.
I have experienced God coming to my rescue in such predicaments. I spent some time alone inside a restroom and soon an idea dawned upon me. Anyhow I am going to make a family film and it is meant to be released in the month of April. For any family, there will always be at least one day very special for some sentimental reason. I decided to make that day the ‘Hero’ of the story. Accordingly, I had to make a story in which the day assumes emotional importance. Being April release it will be apt to have an April date. To top it off, if it is the 18th, I will arrive at my favorite number 9. (Adding 1 with 8)
The title APRIL 18 was born!
Usually one names a film after protracted discussions based on the story board. Here I fixed the title first and then started thinking of a story to justify the title.
Raveendran started scoring music again. It was the last reel and a solo violin was crying out in strict silence. Prakash now gushed in like a tornado shouting at the top of his voice:
“Ithenthuttu paniya Saru kattiye? April 18 ennu jnan phonil paranju…. Jessey choyikkunu release dattalla, padthinte peru mariyathakku parayan….”
I adopted a new strategy in my story making. I had to make an egg out of an omelet! I did this and you embraced it. We celebrated 100th day of “APRIL 18” in Trichur, Prakash’s hometown.
Director Balachandra Menon on Bharat Gopy
എന്റെ ഏപ്രിൽ 18 എന്ന ചിത്രത്തിൽ അഭിനയിക്കുന്നതിന് കരമനയിലെ വീട്ടിൽ പോയാണ് ക്ഷണിച്ചത്. ഇതിൽ കോണ്സ്റ്റബിളിന്റെ വേഷമാണെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞപ്പോൾ അദ്ദേഹം പുച്ഛിച്ച് തള്ളി. ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ഏറ്റവും മികച്ച നടനെ ഈ വേഷം ചെയ്യുന്നതിന് വിളിക്കാനാണ് താൻ വന്നതെന്നും അതാണ് ആ വേഷത്തിന്റെ കരുത്തെന്നും പറഞ്ഞപ്പോൾ അദ്ദേഹം തണുത്തു. പിന്നീട് ഷൂട്ടിങ്ങ് സമയത്ത് ഞങ്ങൾ തമ്മിൽ വല്ലാതെ അടുത്തു. ശിശു സഹജമായ നൈർമല്യം ഉള്ള മനുഷ്യനായിരുന്നു അദ്ദേഹം.
– From Malayala Manorama.
Courtesy : Malayalam Biscoot.
Head Constable Gopi Pillai of April 18 (1984) : An Overview
Head Constable Gopi Pillai was a delight to watch in April 18. With the body language, conversational nuances at times hiding a dash of wantonness, (who can ever forget the “Hair Oil Sequence” and his wicked smile) Head Constable Gopi Pillai was the quintessential, seasoned law-enforcement creature with its well-traversed short-cuts and pithy rationale. He is also a part-time conscience keeper of his immediate superior, which the latter fiercely attempts to keep at bay, but voluntarily accommodates his reasoning most of the times.
It must have been clearly an act of providence to have Bharat Gopy give his assent to Balachandra Menon in taking up the role of the Head Constable in April 18. As he clearly emphasised, nothing short of India’s Best Actor would have done justice to the role.