Sep 29, 2011

Tracing the Roots of Malayalam Cinema

With the memories of my evening jaunts to a tiny wayside tea stall located in the fringes of the Trivandrum city and the light talks I used to make with my friend Kiran Ravindran there, while sipping warm coffee, still soaring in my mind; I had a similar experience of an evening road side light talk here in Cochin itself quite recently. It happened when Kiran visited Cochin for something professional. At around 10 pm in the night I went to his dwelling place, near the railway station, and while drinking a hot tea from a less hygienic tea stall, he revealed his purpose of his Cochin visit.

A director of documentaries and short films, and a writer of some critically acclaimed books, Kiran was in Cochin in connection with some research works of his new book, ‘Cinemayil Inganeyum Chilar’. Forgive me, I could not think about a proper literary translation of this Malayalam phrase now, but, ‘Cinema has Some People like This’. 

In this new work, which is currently under preparation, he deals with such persons of Malayalam Film Industry, who remain almost unknown to the glory of the Silver screen, even if had appended some contributions – nothing less than significant – to the growth of the industry. 

With a plan to write a book by dividing the Malayalam Film history into two segments, viz, from the beginning to the end of Black and White era, and the later era, Kiran sought the guidance of two veteran producers, Navodaya Appachan and T E Vasudevan. It was these two giants who directed Kiran to include the details of lesser known personalities of Malayalam cinema. 

So, the next was his search for unpopular stars. He delved deep into the history, till reached the initial days. Though none of the crew behind the first Malayalam film Vigatha Kumaran (The Lost Child – 1928) is alive today, including its director and lead actor J C Daniel (the Father of Malayalam Cinema) and the heroine P K Rosie, he succeeded in tracing some of the people of the later films.

The first talkie in Malayalam was Balan (1938). Kiran had earlier visited M K Kamalam, the heroine of Balan, who died in 2010 at 86. 

During his visit to Cochin, he met some of the people who associated with the film Nirmala (1948) and Thiramala (The Tide – 1953). I have some photos of the actresses of both of the films to share with you. The then and now comparison will be an interesting one. Apart from these actresses, the people Kiran met include actress Vasantha Kokila, playback singer T K Govinda Rao, sound recordist Krishna Elamon, Thomas Burley, lead actor of Thiramala, character actress Annamma, M K Nathan, the script writer of the first Malayalam colour film Kandam Becha Kottu (The patched-up Coat – 1961), etc.

If you are someone associated with the Malayalam film industry of yester years, or if you know someone of that kind, kindly send a note to If it will help Kiran in his new work, I can have the satisfaction of putting in my share. 


  1. That is so cool Tomz! I hope you will share more as you guys dig deeper.

    Thank you! And good luck!

    P.S: Sorry I couldn't help in your search. If you ask me something about future stars, I can say Tomz!

  2. Wishing your friend all the very best. And looking forward to reading the book.

  3. know nothing about malyali cinema:(

  4. My best wishes for your friend Tom....:)

  5. Tomz this is a very interesting piece of work that your friend is doing. Often the not so well known people and their contributions are not acknowledged though they may be equally talented.

  6. nice post
    like the pics past and present

  7. I am ashamed to say that I won't be able to contribute to this. But do let us know when he finishes and publishes his work. I would love to read it. Good Luck to him. :)

  8. I have no clue of anything ...

    but this is good and all the best to Kiran and you tooo ...

    Take care..


  9. My heartly wishes to your friend kiran..

  10. @NRI Girl

    Thank you very much NRI Girl :) Your encourage is more valued..:)


    Thank you..i will let u know once the book is published..:)


    Hmmm..if you start watch some classics of Malayalam cinema (not the usual craps), u will start loving it..:)


    Thank you very much...I will convey it :)


    Yes, perhaps what made him to plan such a book may be the same thoughts u had..:)

  11. @SM

    oh thank you very much :)


    Yes sure..i will let u know once it gets published..dont worry. ur encouragement is something huge to us..


    Thank you buddy :)

    @Little heart

    Thank you..i will convey ur wishes to him definitely..:)


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