“The Pioneer”, Sen Joseph’s e-book on JC Daniel is here. Download it free too.

JC Daniel - Founder of Malayalam Film Industry“The Pioneer”, a literary work on J.C.Daniel had its inspiration from the seven state-award winning feature film “Celluloid”, made by renowned film maker Kamaludeen (Kamal), which was released on February 15th, 2013.

Meant to offer a deeper historical insight of the socio-cultural ecosystem that existed and encouraged (?) JC Daniel to single-handedly pursue his creative dream on celluloid, “The Pioneer” also attempts in offering a fresh perspective on the chain of events that coalesced to create the first movie in Malayalam.

{ Also, as with every event posted here, please note that the views and the literary content expressed here in the Chapter Excerpt and the e-Book are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, tone or views of the general content nature of this blog, per se. }

A Chapter Excerpt from “The Pioneer”

It was in November 2012 that as part of navigating through various T.V channels, a movie-based telecast in ‘Kairali We’ Channel explained the news of a feature film in the making with Kamal at the helm of affairs. The commentator briefed about the shoot shown as per which  Prithviraj Sukumaran, the budding super star of Malayalam filmdom, was in three piece suit moving along a gravel road seated in a man-drawn cart or rickshaw. There was an old hall-like structure at the side of the road bearing a board which read ‘Capitol Cinema hall’. I was naturally interested about the whole issue. Thereafter, keeping up with my small life experience of a budding historian, I followed up the matter and found a write-up in a journal in December 2012 giving a superficial knowledge of the project. I was still in the dark about the historic content of the art by Kamal. Barring ‘Gandhi’ of Richard Attenborough, no other movie, a feature film released and shown in India had ever attracted my attention as a befitting biopic. Attenborough made extensive studies about Gandhiji ever since late 1950s and made the script and screenplay, finally shot the film and released it in 1982. Biopics are seldom made in Attenborough style. Movie makers do not have time for that.

About the Author

Born on January 26th 1973 at Mumbai, educated at Bishop Moore Vidyapith and Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara in Alappuzha district, and later at University college in Trivandrum, Sen Joseph appeared for Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC in 1998-1999. He has  authored and published articles and books on socio-political subjects including  the “Mystery of Netaji’s Death” published by Netaji Study Circle in 1999. Currently settled in Kochi after a professional career at Delhi, Punjab and Dubai from 2000 to 2011, he does freelance research into socio-political-cultural topics over and above his professional commitments. Married to Seena Sen, they have a son, Stefan Sen Joseph.

Download the Book here.

9 thoughts on ““The Pioneer”, Sen Joseph’s e-book on JC Daniel is here. Download it free too.

    1. Thanks Paul, actually this subject of cross-examining of malayali feudal mind-set used to brn within me ever since i was a boy of 10

    2. I expected a discussion on malayali feudal mental complex, but nothing of that sort happened yet, really pained to know of this

      1. Pondered a long time before writing these thoughts. First things first- Sen- your treatise is a damn good work, well studied and you place your points well to conclude your arguments that JC Daniel and VIGATHAKUMARAN were a victim of the Malayali feudalistic mentality.
        I read the work twice and I am laying down my thoughts. Accuse me of playing the Devil’s Advocate- but I am taking an anticipatory bail in advance- my thoughts are not meant to hurt anyone, not to belittle their contribution. But just an attempt to see whether one can think in another angle the life of JC Daniel and the fate of Vigathakumaran.
        I read Chelangattu’s book on JC Daniel, the book edited by Dr. Premlal & Chandramohan (JC Daniel: Malayala cinimayude Vigathakumran), Vinu Abraham’s Nashta Nayika- saw the documentaries about Daniel done by R. Gopalakrishnan and Kiran Ravindran and also one about Rosie. I also saw Kowdiar Das’s remake of Vigathakumaran.
        I also read the various articles written by Kunnukuzhi Mani and articles against Daniel by Thottam Rajasekharan.
        I saw CELLULOID….it was a great film, and the eternal optimistic in me still dream that a print or a part of Vigathakumaran might be lying somewhere in Australia…
        But I decided to wait till the euphoria surrounding Celluloid had calmed down.

        (1) Sen’s work about JC Daniel primarily blames the feudalistic Malayali mind-set for the failure and the fate of Rosie. But was that the reason alone for its failure. Malayali audience had by the Twenties been introduced to Charlie Chaplin, English silent movies and also Hindi cinema. Supposing, the movie Vigathakumaran was a terrible bore. Like the audience of today- the moviegoers of yesteryear might have rejected the movie. I can account for the failure of the movie in Travancore and Rosie being the victim of the same….but the movie was rejected in Alappuzha also. Could that be another reason for the failure of this movie? In the early 1930’s MARTHANDAVARMA was released. There is no history of the lead pair facing any untoward incident due to their caste/ social background. And in 1938 BALAN was released and Malayalis wholeheartedly accepted this movie. Was there a huge turnaround in our mind-set up b/w 1928 and 1938- such that the feudalistic malayali could accept Marthanda Varma and Balan. Of course, Marthanda varma played only a couple of days and was caught in a civil case.

        (2) And JC Daniel…. I admire and applaud the courage of the man in taking the first steps to introduce cinema to Malayali audiences. But the father of Malayalam cinema was not a good father to his children. I just cant find any justification in this man abandoning his family and going along with Chinnappa. Can we blame his children for not looking after such a person in his old age? I think Daniel was only a namesake father to his children and nothing else. I also think he suffered from depression and it was a depressed Daniel who came back to Janet and his children post Chinnappa debacle.

        (3) Now- this argument of mine is going to ruffle a few feathers. IS JC Daniel truly the father of Malayalam cinema? Does he deserve the said title. Thottam Rajasekharan goes to the extent of questioning the very existence of a movie called Vigathakumaran. I strongly disagree and am convinced that such a movie had been released in 1928 (or 1930 as per some circles of thought). But JC Daniel only took the first step, a very important step….and after a bitter experience never tried his luck in Malayalam cinema. Malayalam cinema came on its own in the Fifties with movies like NEWSPAPER BOY, NEELAKUYIL, STHREE, JEEVITHA NAUKA etc. Would Ramu Kariyat- P Bhaskaran or Thikkurusssi or Sathyan be considered as the father of Malayalam Cinema. Frankly, I believe that Thikkurussi Sukumaran Nair deserves the said title- he made a mark as a director, actor, lyricist etc. and movies like Sthree and Jeevithanauka were movies that made a mark in Malayalam cinema. Let me draw an analogy. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Goapalrishnan Gokhale, Lala Lajpat Rai, Tantia Tope etc were pioneers in our freedom movement. History has it that our freedom movement started with 1857 Sepoy mutiny. Yet we believe Gandhiji (born 1869) who came somewhere in the middle of the freedom struggle (in 1915 or so) as our father of the nation. He didn’t start the freedom struggle, but yet we call him as the father of our nation. Can’t that analogy be taken in the case of Daniel also. He started it- but flesh and blood to Malayalam cinema was given by those who came in the early Fifties. Please consider this argument not on the caste and creed of JC Daniel viz- a viz. the caste and creed of Thikkurussi (or any other), but based on Malayalam cinema history as it is. To this extent I agree with Sen’s work’s title THE PIONEER. Daniel is a pioneer in Malayalam Cinema but is he the father?? Think it over.
        (4) Regarding Dadasaheb Phalke as father of Indian cinema and Daniel as father of Malayalam cinema. Phalke made the first movie in India- RAJA HARISHCHANDRA…..but Phalke did not stop with that. From 1913 to 1937 he made films continuously before passing away in 1944 So I think the title of father of Indian Cinema fits rightly fits Phalke. Can the same be said about Daniel?? I also recommend to see HARISHCHANDRAJI FACTORY – a Marathi movie on the life of Phalke.

        Sen- I hope you can appreciate these arguments. And hoping to read the printed book avatar of THE PIONEER- sooner than later.

        1. I agree in totality, but let me suggest that J.C.Daniel and Rosie suffered due to the effect of feudal mind-set, at least in their private lives, please do not blame a great man for the follies in life, yes, he did not look after children properly, but what if you or me is in the position of his children, we will not write him off, certainly we will take care of parents with whatever resources, that is called culture, forgivance matters, shows the mettle of man

  1. I have downloaded the book, Sen Joseph, and will keep it to read in peace at a later date. Will come back with my impressions after reading.

  2. The Pioneer critically examines the social psyche of malayali community, the feudal mental complex that still lingers in us

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