If you have been lucky enough to watch the early films of Srividya, be it Tamil, Malayalam or Telugu, you would recall the amazement at watching this new graceful, lithe dancer with wide, expressive eyes and a smile that lit up the room in the movie’s dance performances. Srividya was a born performer – be it dancing, singing or acting under the arc lights. Her passion for dance was fueled by the singular aspect of having India’s most famous proponents of dance, onscreen and off-screen, the Travancore sisters as her next-door neighbor in Chennai.
Lalitha and Ragini together in Malayalam movie ! 🙂
On that thought we will get jiggy with Ponkathir (1953). Ponkathir was the second movie to come out of Merryland Studios and they needed this to reclaim everything that they lost via that burning wreck of a movie called Athmasakhi (1952), their debut production. KP Kottarakkara, who wrote the script also ensured he plugged in every single melodramatic overkill moment into it to make sure it chugged on at the box-office. He was dead-on. It was a weep-fest, the likes of which, Malayalam films had never witnessed till then.
The first two decades in Malayalam cinema, 1928 – 1950 could very well be termed the Lost Years (as I have mentioned earlier) owing to the near-impossibility of finding a copy of the 13 films produced in the 20 years ( an unlucky figure in all aspects, don’t you agree? ), hence it becomes a natural choice to start with Jeevitha Nouka ( 1951), or the Boat of Life that also gave Malayalam cinema its first bankable ‘star’, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair. It also feels sad to have been denied the legacy of two decades of singing and dancing – if only they had been a bit more careful with preserving their celluloid stories that they so crafted with care.
There are two names that have had a catalytic effect on this ‘renegade-train-of-thought’, Achinthya and Minai. 🙂
See, its like this. The average Malayali psyche, traditionally, has been a pathologically mortified entity when it comes to expressing exuberance, gay abandon, sheer joy – anything that symbolises an overt physical display of happiness, according to me. WE REVEL, WALLOW and FLOUNDER in STOICISM. To us, repression of emotion is something genetic. We must be probably the only regional community on the planet who looks at a wedding, the finest example of an an occasion that symbolises all of the above, as merely a stiff-upper lipped ‘social obligation’ than a celebration.