[ I would like to place on record the inspiring initiative by Adv Narayan, who has been tirelessly following up leads and collecting factual information to set Malayalam Cinema’s most debated part of history straight – that of the actual year of release of The Lost Child / Vigathakumaran, the first film in Malayalam film history, and also to Saju Chelangatt ( son of Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan) who shared invaluable information on the journalist’s quest. This post, tries to put it all in perspective, so that this also becomes a starting point of further debates, discussions and possibly, as Narayan states, the gateway to laying our hands on actual memorabilia of the film itself – even a reel of it from some corner of the planet would be a possibility. ]
It seems strange and sad that every mention of the glorious film production history of Malayalam hinges around the obvious two – P Subramaniam‘s Merryland and Kunchacko‘s Udaya Studio, while the one that literally forged the path for them, a soul whose daring laid the very foundations of the Malayalam film industry as we know it – Dr JC Daniel‘s Travancore National Pictures always seem to be conveniently forgotten. Long before the technical and the artistic lot of the Malayalam industry working out of Coimbatore and Chennai yearned for a similar set of working conditions in the comfort of their homeland, a committed, lanky lad besotted by the potential of this new medium and fuelled by passion had already built a studio right at the heart of erstwhile Trivandrum, at Pattom, right across the Pattom Palace. But the story of Travancore National Pictures is more than that, and the whole credit for archiving that part of history ( or whatever was possible of it ) should go to Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan, the veteran journalist.