Sunday, April 05, 2009

Like father, like son


Indrajith wanted to have a career in the Army but his father, actor Sukumaran’s unexpected death at 49 changed the course of his life

By Shevlin Sebastian

When he was in Class 12, in Thiruvananthapuram, actor Indrajith, who was fascinated by the army, sat for the Union Public Service Commission examination. He did well and was invited for the Service Selection Board interview at Bangalore. Indrajith impressed the officers during the interaction, but the only hiccup was the medical test.

“I had an infection in my right eye,” says Indrajith. “During the eye test I could not read properly.” He showed the medical certificate to the authorities. “They told me that when the eye had healed I could do the medical test again,” he says. So he was ‘temporarily rejected’. “I was happy because I knew I was going to the Army,” he says. “Everything was moving according to plan.”

Back home his parents, actor, Sukumaran, and actress Mallika, were going to Munnar for a brief holiday and took him along. At that time, Indrajith’s younger brother, Prithviraj was studying in Class 10 and so he had to stay behind to attend school.

At Munnar, Sukumaran complained of a back pain. So, the family decided to return home. At Kochi, a check-up revealed that Sukumaran had a mild heart attack. He was immediately admitted to the Indira Gandhi hospital at Kadavanthra.

When Indrajith entered the ICU, a day later, his father was much improved, and was reading the newspaper. Suddenly, Sukumaran said, “Son, sing a song.” Indrajith, at that time, used to sing a lot, at home, with friends, and at school. So he sang a Hindi song, ‘Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon’.

When he finished a tear rolled down Sukumaran’s face. “This was the only time I saw my father cry,” says Indrajith. “He was such a powerful person, a human dynamo.”

Two days later, Sukumaran passed away, unexpectedly, on June 16, 1997, at the age of 49. “My father’s death was a turning point in my life,” he says. “I decided I could not join the Army, as my mother would be alone at home.”

Instead, Indrajith joined Rajas Engineering College at Nagercoil, 60 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, to do a degree in computer science.

In 1999, Indrajith got an offer to act in a tele-serial from director Viji Thampy. “Since the shooting was going to be held during the Onam holidays I accepted,” he says. The serial, ‘Annie’ was to be telecast on Kairali TV during Christmas.

During the shooting of ‘Annie’, director Lal Jose came to the same location to see whether it would be suitable for his movie, ‘Randaam Bhavam’. And accidentally he saw a scene in which Indrajith was acting.

“It was in front of a fireplace,” says Lal Jose. “Indrajith took a sip of a drink, and threw the rest into the fire.” The director immediately noticed the perfect timing. “For a first-timer Indrajith acted very well,” says Lal Jose. He decided to keep Indrajith in mind when he was casting for a villain for ‘Meesa Madhavan’.

Meanwhile, during this period Indrajith fell in love. “My mum was doing her first television serial after a long time - ‘Peythozhiyathe’,” he says. During weekends he used to go to the location in Thiruvananthapuram to pick her up.

“One day my Mum and I were waiting in the living room of a particular house,” says Indrajith. “I saw a girl, in a red salwar kameez, walk down the stairs. A thought immediately struck me, ‘A danger sign is coming.’”

She was actress Poornima Mohan, who was acting in the same serial. They became friends and fell in love. A couple of years went past. By this time, Indrajith was working for a software company, Nexage, in Chennai. Indrajith and Poornima eventually tied the knot on December 13, (Poornima’s birthday) in 2002.

Since the shooting of ‘Meesa Madhavan’ was getting delayed, Lal Jose told Indrajith to get in touch with director Vinayan who was bringing out a film with new faces. Indrajith did so and bagged the role of the villain.

The film, ‘Ooomappenninu Uriyadappayyan’ was a hit. This gave Indrajith the confidence to chuck up his software job. In 2002, Indrajith acted in Meesa Madhavan as sub inspector Eapen Pappachi. “I was only 21, but I looked 35,” he says. “People remembered my role, thanks to the film becoming such a huge hit. After that there was no looking back.” So far, he has acted in 44 films, including hits like ‘Chanthupottu’, and ‘Classmates’.

After ‘Classmates’, Indrajith was in a film called ‘Oruvan’. Between shoots, he was relaxing in a house at Ottappalam, when through the window he saw a group of old men waiting outside.

When he met them, one of them, Kesavan, said, “We are fans of your father. When your father’s films were released we would go in a group to see it first day, first show.”

Then Kesavan paused and said, “You are doing well and we are sure that one day you will become like your father. We give you our blessings.”

For Indrajith, this was one of the most moving experiences of his life. “I felt so happy,” he says. Then he falls silent, in his home at Maradu, a pregnant Poornima sitting opposite him, with their four-year-old daughter, Prarthana.

Finally, Indrajith says, “I miss my father!”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)


  1. Anonymous1:16 AM

    very nice article..Thanks a lot Shelvin!

  2. Anonymous6:53 PM

    POORNIMA 35.