After the demise of C.Sarathchandran, Satish has reached almost all People’s struggle fronts in Kerala with a small handycam for the past 10 years. He has documented all of these. Though he was unable to systematically convert them into documentaries,  this was a huge parallel documentation. But the floods of 2018 ravaged and destroyed all these valuable documents from his home. Satish was extremely sad about this loss. The mental state of Satish during those traumatic days is better left unsaid!

Satish who embraced death last noon leaves today, unseen by anyone. As per the Covid protocol his last rites will be attended by a handful. There are many friends who are eager to see him to bid farewell. In the fear of the great epidemic, Satish bids us a lonely farewell. Like the solo journeys he made to the North East or Himalayas in his bike often in a not so good condition.

Satish or Chakli as he was known to friends or Chakli chettan to youngsters who were close to him was a person who played a significant role in a particular stage of the contemporary history of Kerala. Satish was the life line of the alternate parallel activist cinema activities called Media Collective formed in 1984 by Documentary Directors K.P.Sasi and P.Baburaj. The wide range of documentaries which should have opened the eyes of the society to relevant issues were taken to countless venues and shown by Satish. These included We Who Make History which depicted the life and survival struggles of fishing community, Living in Fear about the nuclear contamination of IRE (Aluva) based on the book of social scientist V.T.Padmanabhan,  In the Name of Medicine which elaborated the negative impacts of modern  medicines. Laden with a heavy VCR and TV, Satish trudged many cities and villages continuously with an amazing social dedication and commitment for many years from 1984. Along with the activist and peoples documentation expert C.Sarathchandran who left us a decade ago, Satish too did this different and unique media activism. They were two rare human beings  who intervened directly  with the society in two different ways. During those years, the films were screened in bus stands and towns through a process called Video rally. Satish  maintained alertness to communicate to the public who came to view the films about the Politics of Cinema. Always enthusiastic, Satish was one person who played a crucial role in reaching to the people the negative environmental and health issues of Nuclear Radiation whenever the documentary Living in Fear made in 1986 was screened .

When in 1993, the feature  film “Elayum Mullum” (LEAF and THORN) directed by K.P.Sasi with a feminist perspective was produced, Satish took on the role of an Executive Producer. When Sasi and Baburaj started working from Delhi on Media Activism through the ALCOM trust, Satish and K.C.Santosh Kumar became its active members. During this journey many a time, they were joined by Satish Thittamangalam better known as Charles.

For the past few years, Satish has been continuosly on the move. Embarking on the bike with a pair of clothes these journeys took him to the villages of North India or Ladakh. He would shoot all that he saw there in his handy cam. Satish enjoyed the friendship of a huge array of people. While he would mention that he was in Kasargod the previous day, he would unexpectedly appear before us the next day in Thrissur. He was one who could appear any time anywhere and vanish too…

Satish maintained a close bond with the youth in Wynad Kanavu.Leela, Manglu, Santosh – for them he is Satish Uncle. He kept his mind and heart aside exclusively to maintain close human bonds. Satish was a man who walked apart with a friendship that went beyond age.

Apart from this we were able to witness a different Satish – the one who spoke continuously about Organic Farming, experimented with this in his own way at home whenever possible, displayed it to friends,  plucked the produce that was  shared generously.

Last year Satish took the bike and set out on another North Indian sojourn from Bangalore. A few kilometres from Bangalore the bike skidded and fell. In that fall, the not so simple a head injury that Satish sustained  confined him to the bed for  months with a failing memory that came and went in flashes.  Omana chechi who was a teacher in Trivandrum and from Kottekat Thrissur is his life companion.

At each stage, Satish was on diverse journeys…last noon the life journey of that traveller was stilled. Often burning his own hands and smiling at the uncertainity of each moment showing his blackened teeth,the inimitable Satish, the traveller  who cannot be replaced has left….

This memorial note was published in Critic.in on April 10,2020.

Mustafa Deshamangalam  is a filmmaker

Translated by Anitha.S ( anithasharma2007@gmail.com)


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One Comment

  1. True…unseen by all who loved him dearly…but all the more remembered as the warm hearted, adventurous, whole heartedly committed to all genuine humane and ecological causes, human being. Along with the grief and sense of loss I feel reading this tribute, I smile thinking of dear Chakli who always had lots of stories to share, both heartbreaking as well as hilarious and full of hope. You will be with us, Satish always, as long as light and life last…traveling like a gypsy and loving life’s beauty and challenge.