The Malayalm film MELA (1980) written and directed by Sri K.G. George, though one of his less celebrated films, but still was a much talked about film when it was released in Kerala. It came close on the heels of two of his award winning and critically acclaimed films. One was the State Award winning debut film SWAPNADANAM(1975) with Rani Chandra and Dr.Mohandas in the lead. The other ULKKADAL based, on a story in the same name by Sri George Onakkur, had Venu Nagavally and Shobha in the lead .
What made the film SWAPNADANAM a milestone of Malayalam cinema was the novelty of the theme brilliantly handled by director K.G.George and the outstanding portrayal by Rani Chandra and the new comer Mohandas. The film ULKKADAL also saw great acting by Shobha and Venunagavally. Music by the maestro, M.B.Srinivasan, was another distinguishing feature of the film with the haunting duet penned by Sri O.N.V.Kurup and rendered by Jayachandran and Selma George,Viz.,’Sharabindu malardeepa naalam’ proving to be a great hit. Several successful films followed establishing Sri K.G.George as one of the most successful film makers in Malayalam. KOLANGAL (1980), YAVANIKA(1982), notable again for the performance of Thilakan and Gopi, LEKHAYUDE MARANAM ORU FLASHBACK(1983) , ADAMINTE VARIYELLU(1983) and IRAKAL(1986) were all landmarks in the history of Malayalam cinema.
Coming back to film MELA, it was unique in several respects apart from the fact that it was the debut film of actor Mammootty, who went on to become a super star and continues to be so even now. The film MELA was, probably, the first film in Malayalam after NAYAR PIDICHA PULIVAL, to deal with circus and the life of circus artists and Mammootty played the role of a motor cycle stunt jumper . The comedy interludes in a circus used to be managed by a couple of dwarfs and in MELA the hero himself was a dwarf played by Raghu. The romantic lead opposite him was played by actress Anjali Naidu. The film had big entertainment value with circus items thrown in between and on the whole it was well received. Memories of seeing the film at Thiruvananthapuram still linger. What I still remember and what impressed me most was the music of M.B.Sreenivasan, especially the song ‘Manasssoru maanthrika kuthirayay payunnu’ , penned by Mullanezhi and soulfully rendered by Jesudas. In fact M.B.Srinivasan was Sri K.G. George’s favourite music director doing music for all his successful films except SWAPNADANAM.There was also another beautiful song ‘Neelakkuda choodi vanam’ by Selma George. The song ‘Manassoru maanthrika’ and ‘Sharabindu malaedeeepa naalam’of ULKKADAL are arguably the best songs of MBS in Malayalam films. It is sad that Selma George was not heard much in Malayalam films in later years. The hero of MELA, Raghu could not also achieve what another similarly endowed artiste, Pakru, could achieve in films like ATBHUTHA DWEEP years later.
The song ‘Manassoru’ used to haunt me and my efforts to get a gramophone record of the song could finally succeed recently to my utter delight prompting me to scribble a few lines as above.