Cinematographer Ashok Kumar was on the camera shooting a scene involving Shobana for the film “Chemparathy” being directed by P.N.Menon. After my first film “ Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile” with John Abraham, I was into my second feature film “Ragging” directed by N.N. Pisharady. We started the film with newcomers in the main roles, but on seeing their dismal performances we decided to rope in well known artistes. Hence myself, N.N.Pisharady and Aluva Thampy went to Kollam to contact Sudheer and Rani Chandra and get their dates for our film. That was my first meeting and she was a simple and friendly person. Though she was selected as Miss Kerala, I found her to be a typical Malayalee girl with curly hair and tanned skin with an out going nature. At Neela Hotel Bamboo bar we also had an eventful meeting with veteran Malayalam writer Kakkanadan too along with S.K.Nair playing host.
On the set of "Ragging " she was simple and friendly with every one and didn’t show any airs of stardom and was at ease with other new comers like Balan Nair and Somasundaran. Others in the cast included Vincent, P.J.Antony and Jameela Malik .
On the set of RAGGING
It was only in K.G.George’s film “Swapnadanam” her acting talent rose to its summit. It was such a powerful role and she took all efforts to perform as the director had intended. K.G.George was instrumental in polishing her talent and bringing out the hidden talent in her. Her acting in “Swapnadanam” earned her Kerala State Award for the Best actress in 1975. After that she was flooded with offers to act in many films including well known Tamil production houses.
Rani Chandra and Dr.Mohandas
Mallika, Rani, myself & Dr.Mohandas in SWAPNADANAM
Thirty five years back, on 12 October 1976, after a film career spanning only eight years, Malayalam actress Rani Chandra died in a tragic accident near Bombay Airport on a flight to Madras in an Indian Airlines Caravelle aircraft. Her last film was “Badrakali” (Tamil) in which she starred opposite Siva Kumar, was completed with a similar looking actress enacted Rani’s scenes and released after her death was a huge success.
It was really shocking news to the Malayalam Film Industry that she had left this word at the height of her career blazing a trail, she vanished like a Meteor.
I felt deeply on losing a personal friend and real human being, and on that occasion I wrote the following lines:
NOT EVEN MEMORIES
- (To Rani Chandra)
Through fire you made your exit
That was no trick shot.
All that remained in the end
Ashes, an indistinguishable lot.
Many longed for you
But not in this form.
Among the mourners I spot
One who still loves you.
A fellow traveller,
On a journey in dream,
Oh, a friend sweet and lovable
You sailed through enormous sufferings
A rare one who cared for others
Even if others cared not.
None can replace
Not even memories.
An abridged Malayalam translation of this article was published in Metro Vartha on 13 October 2011.