Girish Karnad, Indian playwright, author, actor, and film director whose movies and plays, written largely in Kannada, explore the present by way of the past, was born in Bombay Presidency (now in Maharashtra), India.
In 1992 the Indian government awarded Karnad the Padma Bhushan, in recognition of his contributions to various fields. He was the recipient of the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary prize, in 1999 for his contributions to literature and theatre. Till the end of his life he never compromised on his unwavering positions on secularism and inclusivity.
1951 – 14 January 2019
Lenin Rajendran was a director and screenwriter who worked in Malayalam cinema. He began his film-making career as an assistant to director P A Backer. He has been consistent with the quality of his films, not surrendering to market forces even while using the form and stars of popular cinema. This is evident from the fact that during a career spanning three and a half decades he made only 15 films. He served as the chairman of Kerala State Film Development Corporation from 2016 to January 2019. He never shied away from using the medium to depict the socio political concerns of his times. He was the winner of many an honours.
M. J. Radhakrishnan
1957/1958 – 12 July 2019
was an Indian cinematographer who worked mainly in Malayalam films began his career as a still photographer for weddings and functions. Later he started working as a still photographer for films in which Shaji N Karun was the cinematographer which helped him to be associate cinematographer under Shaji N Karun, who was a major influence in his life. His first and independent work as a cinematographer was for the movie Maamalakalkkapurathu in the year 1988, directed by Ali Akbar.
He won the National Film award of 2018 for best cinematographer for his work in the Malayalam movie ‘Oalu’. He won Kerala State Award for Best Cinematography 7 times. His films were screened at several prominent film festivals around the world, including Cannes, Toronto, Chicago, Rhode Island and Rotterdam. He mostly worked with art house films and was known for his natural lighting styles. In a career spanning more than two decades, he worked with a number of young filmmakers, mostly in their maiden ventures. Netaji (2019), India’s first Irula language which holds the Guinness World Records awarded his final cinematic work.
Thresiamma Thomas, better known by her screen name Miss Kumari (1932-969) was one of the pioneering female leads in Malayalam cinema. Debuting with the 1949 film Vellinakshatram, which was the fifth talkie in Malayalam, she became one of the busiest stars in the industry. She got her breakthrough the 1950 box office hit film ‘Nalla Thanka’. Her roles in Neelakuyil, Manthravadi, Athmasakhi, Aana Valarthiya Vanampadi, Mariyakutty and Poothali consolidated her position as the foremost actress. The huge success of Neelakuyil (1954) made her predominant position in Malayalam cinema. The iconic song in the film ‘Ellarum Chollanu’ was lip-synced by her. In a career spanning two decades, she acted in more than 50 films. She is the recipient of the Madras State award for best actress in 1956. Retiring from the industry post-marriage, she died on 9 June 1969.
14 May 1923 – 30 December 2018
Mrinal Sen, was born in Faridpur, East Bengal (now Bangladesh, was an Indian filmmaker and a nominated Member of the Indian Parliament. Sen was an ardent Marxist. Sen directed films primarily in Bengali and Hindi and his films attack the poverty and exploitation in Indian society, they are never worthy or simply didactic because of his often experimental style. Though few of Sen’s films gained wide distribution in the west, they won prizes at several festivals, including special jury prize at Cannes, Cairo, Venice International Film Festivals. Sen won the National Film Awards 18 times and was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian cinema in the year 2003.
It took Sen more than 10 years of film-making before his work was seen and appreciated in the west. His interest in films started after he came upon Rudolf Arnheim’s Film As an Art, a book on film aesthetics, though his interest remained mostly theoretical as he was forced to take up work as a medical representative in Uttar Pradesh for a couple of years. On his return to Kolkata, he got a job as an audio technician in a film studio, which was the beginning of his film career. Sen’s later films are more contemplative and subdued, allowing audiences to draw their own moral conclusions.
T K Pareekutty
1909 - July 21 1969
T K Pareekutty, born in 1909 at Fort Kochi, Kerala was a boat owner and transport contractor, gambled on that intuitive sense, a businessman’s boldness, to produce some landmark films in Malayalam including Neelakuyil.
Pareekutty’s bond with Ramu Kariat made him enter the industry as a producer by joining hands with P Bhaskaran who brought Uroob into the project and together with Kariat began working on the story and script. After the script was finalised they called it Neelakuyil which got released in the year 1954. Pareekutty’s efforts paid rich dividends. Neelakuyil won the President’s Silver Medal for Second Best film. The film set a benchmark for films that followed and Pareekutty Sahib, as he was popularly known, became a role model for future film producers thereafter.
In 1952, he started his own film distribution company named Chandrathara Pictures. Pareekutty went on to produce a clutch of path-breaking films in Malayalam. The list of films includes Rarichan Enna Pauran, Nadodikal, Mudiyanaya Puthran, Moodupadam, Thacholi Othenan, Bhargavinilayam, Kunjali Marakkar, Aalmaram, etc. Mudiyanaya Puthran (1961), Thacholi Othenan (1964), Kunjali Marakkar (1967) won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam.
Pareekutty died on July 21, 1969. The name Pareekutty is etched in the glorious history of Malayalam cinema while Neelakuyil is celebrating its Golden Jubilee.