I’m revisiting this text after six months. It doesn’t mean it has gotten easier but I do feel the need to be more honest with what’s been within for so long. It’s something I managed to pen down on the morning of my father’s funeral. Neither its completeness nor its clarity is something I can guarantee; and yet its faults are made up only in heart.

I intend to put together a series of familiar essays or notes on my dad. Writing is healing and it is more importantly, remembrance. Also, the last piece of advice or an expression of his desire of what he wanted for me, something he told me the day before, was that I should write again. So, I’m writing again, dad.


A Note on My Dad


My father was a great man or maybe I should is a great man because the lives he touched will continue to bear the stamp of his influence.

Some of you have known him all your life, some of you he probably greeted during his morning walk, some of you may have worked with him but I think everyone knows that my dad lived life on his terms and in many ways died on his terms.

He was diagnosed with diabetes the year I was born and yet thanks to a visionary doctor who told him then that it was a lifestyle disease and not one that he had to be drug dependent for, he once more took up an active lifestyle.

He always told us he wanted to live till 70 without drugs because his father, who was diabetic as well, lived till 70 with drugs. In fact, when a few years ago, the gardener in the park in front of our house, died suddenly, with no prolonged illness or hospitalisation, he had remarked that he wanted to die like that – fit, not hospitalised and didn’t want to be a burden.

However, barely a month before his 62nd birthday, he fell ill and the doctors insisted that he had to be put on insulin. After nearly three decades of not taking medication, I think it broke his heart that he had to.

Yet, he did not die on Sunday when he was a little ill, or on Monday when he was still under the weather, but on Tuesday, after he bought provisions, did his chores, everything. He died as he lived, on his feet, doing everything he put his mind to, leaving no unfinished business.

My dad said that the opposite of love is not hate but laziness, so loving meant doing everything one had to do. So he died loving us.

He died an extraordinary man because there will never be anyone, who according to us, could ever match up. My sister and I have always known that and been grateful that we are the daughters of Cdr J.J Puthur, former commander in the Indian Navy, who spoke up in a world where everyone followed orders and lost worldly positions for it but instilled in anyone who knew him, a sense of purpose and an unflinching desire to do what had to be done.

My father’s gift to us was to instil in us a craving for knowledge, a need to constantly learn, read, and improve our minds. He gave us his conversations and most importantly, the one thing that is so limited and yet so precious – his time.

His life in many ways was a gift to us from my grandfather who got him grounded from the Air Force, in the fear that he would have as a fighter pilot become a smoky hole in the ground. My father never knew why he was grounded and found out rather recently from his father’s friend. He resented not knowing but understood that as a father, my grandfather had to make a tough decision for the safety of his son.

So he left the Air Force and joined the Navy. His need for excellence was such that one can consider him an authority on the Indian coastline. He wrote a book about the Coast, about Love and about Science, because my father was also a scientist. His achievements that he will be remembered for are that he was a great teacher, a charismatic leader, an exemplary father and the most wonderful husband ever.

Why I watch films or rather why do I Act?

Well I decided to talk about the dream machine here but then thought well before I rip apart films, critique them, shamelessly promote them and basically make vulnerable thespians and film folk I should bare all.

Making myself vulnerable about acting is going to be a scary experience but it’s a plunge I need to take before I decide to write my views out.

I actually like being a hedgehog, hiding in the undergrowth, keeping my spines as a ready defence and going about my life in an as unassuming way as possible. But hedgehogs have the loveliest eyes and expressive selves, so it’s hard to hide. And in my case, much as I want to stifle my views, I frequently stumble on my own feet and end up with one in my mouth *exasperated*!

So, why do I watch films? Easy answer, my parents are absolute film buffs though they have their own preferences. My mum is not that into English films though she’s watched her fair share of them; she nevertheless prefers Indian films. Dad, an ex-NDA student, where when the day freed up and you had nothing to do so you watched a film or four; has watched soo many movies that he can afford to be fastidious about the kind of films he wants to watch. So in the family it is a highly recommended film if dad sits through a film fully since he has a knack of walking off 15 minutes into a film (though on many occasions we have bulldozed & emotionally blackmailed him into watching many a crappy movie and haven’t heard the end of it).

Now, why do I Act? That’s a ringer.

I don’t know really…by the time I knew it, I was acting. I used to accompany my dad for his play rehearsals. I don’t remember much of what he did or his dialogues (though yes one does stand out in my memory – his line was “you saucy lil baggage” instead he kept calling his co-actor “you baggy lil sausage” pfft!) and I recall he used to let me keep his script. I haven’t watched my dad on stage because at 5 I was too young to go for the plays.

However, the singular most over-powering emotional memory for me was the aura of the stage space and the auditorium. It was something so magical that even now when I step into an auditorium for a performance I’m just overwhelmed and tingling all over. Another experience for me is till I step on stage, my body is shaking, my skin is burning and I feel queasy in the pit of my stomach but when my foot steps onto the stage, I’m suddenly in possession of my faculties. There is a sense of history that emanates from the floor of the stage and the wings. The nervousness I felt before doesn’t vanish but it’s shared by something akin to joyous excitement.

While I’m no stage veteran, despite the many times I’ve been on stage, the experience doesn’t change. So if I am critical of films & plays it is because I feel invested in them. That play or film is incomplete till I have viewed it, understood it and imbibed it because an actor’s craft requires that involvement. Though I know, and I’m speaking for myself here but I suppose it’s true for others, even when I don’t have an audience I am constantly acting since I need to express all the built in emotion. So I suppose a better way to put it would be that the actor’s craft spells involvement – audience or not (though most actors are schizophrenic enough to create their own audience; I do).

Therefore the penning down of my views is actually a way to understand how I read a film or play (after all, they are texts as well). It is then a biased and an objective exercise – acting is also a bit of both; you become and are coldly aware what this person inhabiting your body ought to do.

Writing is a soul-searching exercise but so is acting. And the writer has words at his disposal while the director has camera angles and stage directions. Actors speak out with their bodies and it is every actors hope that what they’re speaking out, others are hearing it. I struggle with this need to break out of the inner world of emotions and thoughts and push it out – it is here that vulnerability is strength.


PS: All the views in the following posts are mine and hence don’t judge me harshly even though I’m doing my all to be harsh 😛

PPS: The play/film posters used belong to the owners of the respective creative products and have been used only for illustration purposes and intend no copyright infringement.