According to news reports in Malayala Manorama and The Hindu, KPAC Lalitha has been selected for the 2012 Thoppil Bhasi Award, as announced by the Thoppil Bhasi Foundation, and the award carries a cash prize of Rs.33,333 and a commemorative plaque. This award would be something very special with regards to KPAC Lalitha personally and professionally, for all those who have been following her performances on stage and onscreen from her KPAC days.
Thoppil Bhasi, the legendary playwright, master of screenplay and film director, was her mentor, and a father figure to her. In fact she says it very clearly in a chapter dedicated to him in her autobiography “Katha Thudarum” that there are four names that she pays obeisance to in her morning prayers, even BEFORE she invokes her favorite gods – her parents, her husband and Thoppil Bhasi. I guess that should give a fair idea of the place the master craftsman’s place in her life.
I don’t think there has been any other theater movement or for that matter any movement in any state in India, that has entertained, and with it sown the seeds of social rethinking and transformation the way KPAC (Kerala Peoples Arts Club) did for Kerala. I guess along with the central theme of the subjects that stalwarts like Thoppil Bhasi chose for the productions, the songs composed by the popular team of ONV-Devarajan was a big draw that brought people to watch them. Even though the compilation from HMV of KPAC’s drama songs is now on CD, I can never thank those audio engineers enough for leaving the hiss, the scratches and the rumble intact. All I have to do is close my eyes, and its as if KPAC Sulochana is right there on stage, rocking the stage with Cheppu kilukkana changathi ( from Mudiyanaya Puthran, 1960) . In an interview with The Hindu in 2005, Devarajan Master has shared some interesting details on the efforts that went in to produce the compilation.
Intricate and innocent – hardly the pair of words you would associate with the quintessential species called the ‘house-owner’ seen in Malayalam movies through the years. In my college years, I spent a great deal of time living in rented houses and had my share of interaction with this species. None of it was heavenly and, if at all I did gain a perspective about them, it wasn’t the least laudatory.
They would fight with you for the rent (inevitably late!), spy on you lest your female friends made it a habit to visit you for socially questionable reasons, and face a barrage of questions every time your mates descended for a raucous party which would shake the neighbourhood and leave everyone’s eardrums in tatters. Life as a tenant was essentially about time spent in pursuit of clandestine arts – how to hoodwink and how to deal with a pest called the ‘house-owner’.