The study of law and legal expertise is meant to be a tool for a lawyer to excel in the courts but Sachy used his expertise in criminal law to conquer the world of cinema. Sachy’s study of law, though, was happenstance; it seems like the Almighty’s hand which had equipped him in law had endowed him with the ability to analyse human minds too. Sachy’s life is neither the story of a filmmaker nor of a lawyer but that of a man who conquered the world through the medium of films and knowledge of law.
Though his official name is Sachidanandan, everyone called him — Sachy. K R Sachidanandan, Advocate, as the name plate used to read once, was never in the minds of many except a few of his lawyer friends. He had reinvented himself as a filmmaker and was a successful and passionate one at that. A line in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist reads “If you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” For Sachy it was his expertise in criminal law that helped him achieve the heights in the film world.
Many people do not know that Sachy was a brilliant criminal lawyer and took pride in being one. His movies reflect his in-depth knowledge of criminal law. There are numerous case laws reported in his name on criminal law. His cross examination was brilliant, for it had both dramatics and reflected in-depth knowledge of both the law and human mind. The fact is that though his films seldom showed the courtroom, he made sure the audience knew of the influence of law on human lives through dialogues and script. His films showed us his intrinsic knowledge of the working of the courts. He portrayed it in the most realistic way possible. His stories told how lives were affected by law, both the legislated and court-made.
In many of the usual legal films in the past, the procedure had been portrayed incorrectly or the dramatics did not work. In these films the attempts to portray court proceedings failed miserably. Revathy’s Phil Milenge remains an exception to this. This is where the intelligence of the criminal lawyer and the sharp sense of a storyteller came in handy for Sachy. He eschewed the court scenes leaving it to the imagination of the audience without attempting to venture into that area.
If one were to analyze his films, the play of law is quite evident. In the film Chocolate—the story about the admission of a boy to a girls-only college—this theme was developed from a notification issued by one of the universities in Kerala at that point of time. Again in the film, in a scene with regard to the college dress code, the language used is clearly legal writing wherein the words like mandatorily etc. creeps in. In Makeup Man, the Sachy-Sethu scriptwriters use family law and the family court to resolve the climax. The court scene is used but the approach that the family Court can always deviate from the set principles of ‘Evidence and Procedure’ even according to law is interesting.
So far as Run Baby Run is concerned, it had a lawyer who acts more as a fixer than an advocate, thus keeping the courtroom away from the scenes. The attempt of the media to poke their noses into sensational criminal cases has been told well by Sachy. As for the character of Ramanunni in Ramaleela who is a lawyer himself, all the legal issues he was entangled in are resolved without even a single court scene — though the characters speak about law and legal issues throughout the film. The issue of privileged communication between husband and wife covered under Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act is also used by the lawyer-character in the film. Similarly, a judgement of the Bombay High Court is also quoted to underscore the point.
In Ramaleela, he also establishes the influence media exercises on a criminal trial and ridicules the habits of the police officers in leaking stories to the media without any authenticity thus degenerating public opinion and influencing the justice delivery process.
Sherlock Toms, though not his original, also saw glimpses of the lawyer and his excellence in criminal law and its procedure. When it comes to his film, Driving Licence, one can see how Sachy explores the intricacies of Motor Vehicles Act throughout the film and moving on to Ayyappunum Koshiyum, he uses his brilliance as a criminal lawyer, wherein the procedures of criminal law and applicability of the Kerala Abkari Act are authentically used.
Sachy’s most amazing quality was completeness in research and the eagerness to not leave any stone unturned. Before he began working on any script, it was his practice to complete the research and then confirm the same with an expert from the field. After he completely submerged into filmmaking, he could not update himself with current laws and so it was his practice to call up lawyers at any time of the day to enquire about the details on laws in connection with the script he was working on. He would also become visibly upset in case the research and the opinions were not delivered on time. We might have had quarrels with regard to our opinions but the difference in opinion was always welcomed by him. It was not just me, he had a huge list of friends and always kept adding to it.
That was Sachy for you and for me or anyone else. He lived a complete life which was abruptly cut short. Just like his name, leaving the Anandam in his name to be enjoyed by all of us for a lifetime.
(The author was Sachy’s junior when he was practicing as a lawyer in the High Court of Kerala)