Friday, June 18
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Adieu to Dennis Joseph, Malayalam cinema’s master writer


If Dennis Joseph’s ‘Rajavinte Makan’ marked the beginning of the superstardom for Mohanlal, ‘New Delhi’ helped Mammootty script a spectacular comeback after a series of disappointing films.

Dennis Joseph, who died in Kottayam following a cardiac arrest on Monday aged 63, was one of Malayalam cinema’s most successful scriptwriters. If the commercial cinema of the 1980s and 90s was so enjoyable to watch, he could take some credit for it.

He penned several blockbusters and played a significant role in the careers of two of the biggest stars of Malayalam cinema. If his Rajavinte Makan marked the beginning of the superstardom for Mohanlal, New Delhi helped Mammootty script a spectacular comeback after a series of disappointing films.

Joshiy was the director of New Delhi, which remains one of the finest thrillers in Malayalam more than three decades after its release. Based, unofficially, on Irving Wallace’s English novel The Almighty, the film set the box office on fire.

Mammootty was also the hero of the first film that Dennis and Joshiy had come together for titled Nirakkoottu. It too was a hit; the film’s well-written screenplay was noticed and a young Dennis had arrived. However, his debut film Eeran Sandhya, directed by Jesey, hadn’t won him much acclaim.

The huge success of Rajavinte Makan, directed by Thampi Kannanthanam, established Dennis as one of the busiest scriptwriters. Though there was a time when he wrote as many as eight scripts in a year, he tried to ensure that the quality didn’t suffer.

He was more in demand for fast-paced thrillers, but with Akashadoothu, directed by Sibi Malayil, he showed he could write emotional dramas as well. His big hits include Kottayam Kunjachan, No. 20 Madras Mail, Sangham, and Nair Saab.

Director I.V. Sasi once had told this writer that the late Padmarajan had high regard for Dennis. He also directed a few films, like Manu Uncle and Adharavam, but it is as a remarkably successful scriptwriter he will be remembered.

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