The power of his pen was such that right from the first film he wrote, the industry knew that here was a man to be reckoned with. Thaniyavarthanam, his first screenplay filmed by Sibi Malayil is still a seething wound in the minds of Malayalis. This team went on to make more cinema that crushed our hearts and left us shattered. Those melodramas changed the way we experienced cinema until then.
Thanks to the justice Lohi always showed to his characters, some of the most memorable performances of our superstars, without which they would have hardly attained the stature they have today, came through his films. Mohanlal won his first national award through Bharatham penned by Lohi. However, my personal favourite of Lal-Lohi combination is Nandagopan from Kamaladalam.
Mind you, it is not just the superstars who were blessed by his pen. Nedumudi Venu in His Highness Abdullah, KPAC Lalitha in Amaram, Thilakan in Veendum Chila Veettukaryangal, Bindu Panicker in Joker, Oduvil Unnikrishnan in Thoovalkkottaram are all fine examples that Lohi's characters, even if they are not the protagonists, are always well-etched and give a lot of scope to the actors. Another character that comes to my mind right now is the Muthachhan from Thoovalkkottaram played by Babu Swamy. I am incapable to think of another screenwriter who could have made such an inconsequential character look so important.
A few months before his untimely death, Lohi had opined that Malayalam cinema lacked a new generation of actors, and the existing ones are too old and overused. As much as he was a man of perfect words, he was also a man of action. When he turned a director, this is why he took the effort to find new faces who suited his characters than write stories for the establised actors who have minimum guarantee. Lakshmi Gopalaswami, Manya, Meera Jasmine, Bhama, Vinu Mohan - so many of them in that list apart from Manju Warrier and Samyuktha Varma who also got introduced through his screenplays.
Somehow, I am in awe for Lohi, the screenplay writer more than Lohi, the director. When he debuted as a director with Bhoothakkannadi, it seemed the most natural thing to do for a creatively mature writer. However, none of his directorial ventures struck a chord with the audience as much as his screenplays directed by Sibi, Bharathan or Satyan Anthikkad. And before he could prove this observation wrong, he left the silver screen forever, much like most of his films - leaving behind a lingering pain.
I am so glad my first dose of memorable films came from him. For all those unwritten screen poems by Lohi that left with him - Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
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