Then when it came to my 1999 film Agnisakshi, which was set in the 1930s, he was the only choice I had in mind to play the patriarch of Manampalli mana. He was excellent as he understood the dilemma of the times, more than me. So he was a guiding spirit and worked closely with me to pin down the details.
In my 2012 film Arike, he played a modern day swami with a different voice from the traditionalist; he was an iconoclast, who advocated freedom of choice. Again, he was a perfect fit because his own personality shone through.
He was a rebel in every sense. He was associated with many traditional movements, but the traditionalists would consider him a rebel, as much as he was considered so by west-looking intellectuals. You couldn’t fit him in a box, with his free-spirited lifestyle. He was a friend, but I was also in awe of him.
As told to Anna Mathews