In a tragic news, well-known Malayalam film filmmaker passed away in Chennai after a prolonged battle with illness. The legendary director, who was instrumental in the success stories of superstars Mammootty, Mohanlal and Jayan, died at the age ofs 67. In a career spanning close to four decades in which he also helmed some Tamil and Hindi projects, Sasi directed nearly 150 films. He is survived by his wife, the popular yesteryear actress Seema, a son and a daughter.
His last rites will be conducted once his daughter, who is based in Australia, reaches here, according to sources in the know of developments.
Sasi, who was inactive in the film world for a while, was planning to get back to his passion. He had announced a blockbuster film with technology geek Sohan Roy to make a film on Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The news of Sasi's demise drew emotional tributes from the film fraternity.
Innocent, a member of the Lok Sabha and the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), said Sasi's departure was an irreparable loss to the Malayalam film industry.
"When I started my career, Sasi was a director and he went on to reach heights which not many can reach. He proved through his films that a director stands above actors," Innocent said.
Hugely popular writer-director Ranjith said he heard the news at his hotel room in Kozhikode. It was in this room that Sasi always stayed when he directed his films in this city.
"I scripted for him a while back and even when we met recently, he again asked me for a script. The only thing in his blood was films and films. Malayalam film industry has lost one of its legends," he said.
Actor-director Joy Mathew said Sasi was a creator and made memorable movies when technology that's available now was never there.
"Sitting on his chair, he would easily complete a shot in which hundreds of people were acting in. In his days, he never had the luxury of seeing the shot on a TV monitor, but he could visualise the scene and the shot with precision and that was his greatness."
Actor Dulquer Salmaan said Sasi "created an era of his own in Malayalam cinema". Actor-producer Nivin Pauly said Sasi was an "icon who created cinema that stood the test of time" and "bridged the gap between commerce and art in Malayalam cinema".
Although Sasi hailed from Kozhikode in Kerala, he was based in Chennai.
The love Kozhikode and the industry had for Sasi was seen in a huge public reception held there in 2013 when almost everyone who acted in his films turned up. Leading from the front then were Kamal Haasan, Mammootty and Mohanlal.
Kamal was Sasi's friend for 45 long years.
"The industry and I mourn a great technician. My support and love to my sister Seema Sasi and family," he tweeted.
Sasi's glorious career as a director began after the stupendous success of "Avalude Raavukal" (Her Nights) in 1978. It told the tale of a prostitute, a role essayed by Seema who later became the director's wife.
In the two decades starting in the 1980s, Mammootty and Mohanlal established themselves in the category of superstars. Of the nearly 150 films that Sasi directed, Mammootty starred in more than three dozen of them.
Mohanlal's hit movie "Devasuram", scripted by Ranjith, was directed by Sasi. The two superstars also acted together in a dozen of Sasi's films.
Sasi's biggest hit "Angadi", released in 1980, starred Jayan. They worked in six films.
Sasi's magic last worked in 2003 when "Balram Vs Tharadas" met with reasonable success. After that, he did just one film. Since then, he was cooling his heels in Chennai, while his wife Seema found more visibility on TV screens than on the silver screen.
(With IANS Inputs)