By Shobha Warrier
No star combination has mesmerised the Kerala audience like the Mohanlal-Kaviyoor Ponnammaone.
No, she was not a heroine who danced with him or sang songs with him -- she has been his mother in nearly 50 Malayalam films. Kaviyoor Ponnamma, even when she was a young girl had acted as mother to actors like Satyan, Prem Nazir.
But it's as mother of Mohanlal that people have found her most memorable. As she says, she has come to be known as 'Lalettan's mother'. To the extent that people have even forgotten her name. Why, even Mohanlal's own mother calls Kaviyoor Ponnamma as his 'second mother'!
Here, Kaviyoor Ponnamma tells us what a good son Mohanlal has been!
I have worked in the Malayalam film industry for the last 36 years. I've acted as mother to many actors who were much elder to me, like Satyan, Prem Nazir, Madhu, etc.
In fact, Satyan Sir was older than my father, and Nazir Sir's daughter was nearly as old as me.
But I never felt as free with them, nor look upon them as my children as with Mohanlal. In fact, I've never felt as if I were acting, when we've been together. We behave exactly the same way a mother and son do. Maybe that's why people like to see us as mother and son.
But because of this son, I don't have a name now! (Laughs) Young and old, people say, "Look, Lalettan's mother!"
No, it doesn't upset me at all. I can only love him as he is a nice child!
Lal and me look good in films may be because I look like Santha-chechi (Mohanlal's mother). See, both of us are fat!
It is not that I don’t like my other 'sons'. But with Lal, there is a special intimacy. Very often, when we're on location, people have come up to me and said, "Please act only as Lal's mother." And in front of other heroes, too!
Right from his very first film, I knew he has this extraordinary talent. I told many people, "This boy will be the next Prem Nazir." Then I happened to see him in Balachandra Menon’s film, Kelkatha Sabdam. I told Menon the same thing.
I didn't even know him then! But the thalam (rhythm) in his acting, his whole body was evident even then. Like music, everything about him flows so gracefully. Very few have this grace in the way they talk, walk and move. This I saw right in his first film.
His specialty is that everything about him is musical and flexible. That was why you don't feel he is acting.
Films like Kireedam, Bharatham are some I cannot forget. In fact, Kireedom. brought us close together. There's a scene in it in which I felt I was going to crack inside. It's a scene where I ask him to get out of the house. But as he is leaving, I run behind him... And, one last time, I call him, "Mone!" (son).
He looks back and says, "Amme, (mother), it is not knowingly that I became like this. Without my knowing, my life is slipping away from me. Amme, please forgive me."
When he said that, I thought I would break down. I felt a sudden pang inside me. I felt it was happening to my own child. I do not know what or why I felt that way.
How will a mother feel when her son pleads helplessly? I experienced the same feeling. I felt my own child was talking to me.
Films apart, he also behaves as if I were his own mother. He behaves like he was my own son. Why, I'd say he IS my son!