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Monday, September 30, 2013

Celluloid .....Movie Review

Crtain books and films open your eyes to certain true stories one would not have known otherwise .

Kamal is a sensitive senior Director in Malayalam films and he has made this film on J.C.Daniel who  made the first Malayalam film in 1930 albeit a silent one .
like anything in Kerala even creativity comes with controversy ,there were claims to the contrary saying that the film was silent and how could it be first Malayalam film ,the title of the film was vigathakumaran or lost child which is a Malayalam word ,the morons who raised the controversy should know that .
J.C .Daniel s a man with a passion for cinema ,trained in martial arts he hailed from Travancore kanyakumari dt ,he was bent on making the first Malayalam film and unlike movies of those time in Tamil and Hindi mostly mythological and   historical he wanted to make a social film and had a script with him of a child being kidnapped to Ceylon and brought up there and reunion in India when he becomes old .
Daniel travelled to Bombay and convinced Dada sahib Phalke a pioneer in hindi and Marathi films to watch him make films and learnt many techniques and intricacies of film making
he sold his landed property of his family to finance the film which would cost him four lakh British rupees those days a princely sum indeed .
He would bring an actress from Bombay for the heroines role but fed up by her demands would send her back he would select a scheduled caste girl called rosie to act as the upper caste Nair heroine in the movie .
with so much hardship he would somehow complete the film and on its day of release in capital theatre in Trivandrum eagerly await with expectation its results
Kerala has been called as not a single madhouse but a collection of madhouses by none other than Swami Vivekananda who was disgusted at the casteist divisions in Kerala society .
Its still a collection of madhouses today though for several other reasons .
the upper castes show their anger on a low cast Rosie acting in an upper caste role and destroy the theatre ,Rosie escapes to tamilnadu as her house is burnt and is never heard off .
Daniel loses his money and becomes poor but later he does dental surgery and starts earning money and fame as a good dentist .
he becomes rich again and once when PC Chinnappa the legendary comedian comes to him for a tooth to be removed asks him to take one more film again he moves to Madras where he is tempted to squander his money and sink into abject poverty .
his children drift off as they grow and the old couple Daniles are left alone in a decrepit house uncared by anyone
by then Malayalam had started making good films and was becoming a big industry but none knew of Daniel ,it was maker of Balan a later film who was considered as the maker of first Malayalam film .
A lone journalist searches for Daniel who with great reluctance parts with his tragic tale ,
nasta nayika by vinu Abraham is about P.K.Rosy the heroine of malayalams first film
Vinu tries to convince the kerala government to honour Daniel as the first Malayalam fim maker but absurd reasons are given to avoid this ,the final scene in the movie is the ceremony to honour Daniel posthumously some years back when his son climbs the podium to receive his fathers accolades ,he makes a touching speech of being the one who destroyed the film in its box as a child while playing with it and it getting burnt and apologises to malayalam film world for inadvertently destroying a valuable evidence and archive
Prithiviraj as Daniel and later as his son has excelled in his histrionics and at the same time downplayed it so subtly Mamta Mohandas one of my favourite actress as his wife was superb
Rosie with her innocence was enacted by a talent search newcomer
Kamal has done yeoman service to film history by this sensitive portrayal of J.C.Daniel
the movie is one that touches ones soul
of course one has to but mention the music by M.jayachandran who takes us back to the 30 s with his compositions

please don't miss this


Kannan said...

Hi Hari, Very balanced review. Kudos to Director Kamal for bringing to focus Shri. J.C. Daniel's contribution to Malayalam Cinema for the present generation to know.

Let's give a standing ovation to Vaikom Vijayalakshmi, the visually challenged girl for her superb rendition of the duet "Kaatte.. kaatte, Nee pookka marathilu paattum padi vanno" in the 1930s style. Let's hope we get to hear more of her mellifluous voice in other Malayalam films too.

One bitter point though.. the controversy surrounding the rejection of "Vikatha Kumaran" as the first ever Malayalam movie has been squarely blamed on Shri. Malayatoor Ramakrishnan, the then Cultural Secretary of Kerala State. The film portrays Malayatoor Ramakrishnan as a mean minded bhramin fanatic who refuses to acknowledge J.C. Daniel because he belongs to the Nadar community and honors T.R. Sundaram instead as the maker of the first Malayalam movie (Balan) because T.R. Sundaram is a bhramin. Whether this is true or not, this is in poor taste and Kamal should have avoided this controversy given that Malayatoor is not alive today to defend himself or explain what is the truth.

Otherwise an excellent movie for the present generation to know J.C. Daniel's contribution to Malayalam cinema.


Maddy said...

i liked the movie, saw now that it has come in tamil as well as JC daniel with the songs remade in tamil...the question i had at the end was what could have happened to that 'first actress'...that lovely girl..

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