Renowned filmmaker P.N. Menon (82), who died in a private hospital in Kochi on Tuesday after a prolonged illness, was cremated with State honours at the Ravipuram crematorium at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. P.N. Menon was one of the pioneers of Malayalam parallel cinema and has directed masterpieces like Olavum Theeravum, Chembarathi, Kuttiyedathi, Mappusakshi and Malamukalile Daivam.
He had been facing memory loss for some time. The body was kept at his daughter's flat in the city where several filmmakers and actors visited to pay their last respects. The cremation will take place on Wednesday. His son-in-law Radhakrishnan lit the funeral pyre as the police force gave a ceremonial gun salute. Kerala Minister for Fisheries S. Sarma paid homage to the departed filmmaker at his residence; District Collector M. Beena placed wreaths on behalf of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Minister for Culture M.A. Baby.
Several filmmakers and actors including Kamal, Harikumar and Ambili, poet Balachandran Chullikkad, actors Dileep, Biju Menon, Nadirsha, Machan Varghese, Kollam Thulasi, and Kunchan also visited to pay homage.
The Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce convened a meeting to condole his death. Fazal Gafoor, President of the Chamber, said that P.N. Menon was a genius who inspired the youth towards filmmaking by adopting a fresh perspective.
Born in a poor family at Vadakkancherry, Trissur, Menon came into cinema at the age of 20 as a production boy in Chennai after completing his studies at the Trissur School of Arts. Initially, Menon performed many small jobs in the film industry in Chennai as painter, visual artist and poster designer. He also worked as art director in several films, including Ninamaninja Kalppadukal.
His debut as director in the sixties with Rosie (1965) failed to impress distributors. Shot mostly in outdoor locations, his Rosie, however, changed the conventional ways of indoor film-making in those days. His first major release came with Olavum Theeravum (1969), which heralded the new wave of movies in Malayalam cinema in the sixties and seventies. The movie went on to win the State award for the best film.
In his long career spanning more than four decades, Menon directed 23 films. His last directorial venture was Nerkku Neru (2004) which he made after a long absence lasting more than a decade. His works include Maappusaakshi (1971), Panimudakku, Chemparaththi (1972), Darshanam, Chaayam (1973), Mazhakkaaru (1974), Odakkuzhal (1975), Udhayam Kizhakku Thannae (1976), Taxi Driver (1978), Devathai (Tamil -1979), Anu (Tamil - 1982), Malamukalilaey Daivam, Glimpses of Kerala (English), Asthram (1983), Padippura (1988) and Money Order (1990).
Apart from state awards, Menon won National Awards thrice for his films Kuttiyedathi (1971), Malamukalile Daivam (1983) and Gayathri (1973) which was awarded the President's National Awards Medal for National Integration. He also won the J.C. Daniel Award for his outstanding contributions to the Malayalam film industry.
Ace director Adoor Gopalakrishnan remembered that it was Menon who laid the foundation for modern Malayalam cinema. He inspired a generation of filmmakers to make good cinema in Malayalam, he added. Director Jayaraj said: "I feel the best tribute to Menon will be to continue making experimental movies and exploring new paths."