Some of these artistes – especially the women – had to fight many odds to be in showbiz in the 1950s and 60s, when society was not too kind to actors.

14 veteran artistes honoured at the Kerala State Film awards
Flix Mollywood Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 16:26

An actor since the 1950s, a radio artiste of decades ago, a singer of the 70s, a woman comedian of black and white movies — 14 such artistes from the Malayalam film industry were honoured at the Kerala State Film Awards in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

TR Omana, CS Radha Devi, Neyyatinkara Komalam, GK Pillai, Vipin Mohan, TN Krishnankutty Nair, Latha Raju, Sivan, Sreelatha Namboodiri, B Thyagarajan, Raghunath, Stanley Jose and Jagathy Sreekumar were the 14 artistes honoured.

Some of these artistes – especially women – had to fight many odds to be in showbiz in the 1950s and 60s, when society was not too kind to actors. While new actors win their state awards – Nimisha Sajayan for best female actor, Jayasurya and Soubin for best male actor —  it is important to remember the first footprints of a brave generation that drew the first lines in Malayalam cinema.

Read: Kerala State Awards: 'Sudani from Nigeria' team triumphs, Nimisha wins 'Best Actress'

Neyyattinkara Komalam is the first heroine of the late Prem Nazir, known as the evergreen hero of Malayalam cinema. She was 16 when she played his heroine in the 1952 film Marumakal, also Nazir’s acting debut. However, she had to stop acting five years later because of the strong opposition from society and her relatives, against a woman acting in those days.

TR Omana is the voice behind Sarada's many appreciated performances, including her national award-winning role in Thulabharam. Omana has also acted in hundreds of films, mostly playing mother characters, after beginning her acting career in 1950.

CS Radhadevi has played many roles — as a radio artiste since 1942, a playback singer since 1954, an actor in radio and in films for decades and a dubbing artiste too.

GK Pillai, born in 1924, has been acting for 65 years now! The nonagenarian, who played a good many ‘villain’ roles in films, has later moved on to the mini screen. Not that he has left the movies. Pillai is very active there too.

Latha Raju is a singer, actor and dubbing artiste – popular songs such as ‘Pinchu hridayam devalayam’ and ‘Manja kili swarnakili’ being some of her most remembered ones. She also played Sheela’s younger sister Panjami in the iconic film Chemmeen.

Sreelatha is one of the first women comedians of Malayalam cinema, often pairing up with Adoor Bhasi in old films, in sub-plots written exclusively for humour. And then there is, of course, Jagathy Sreekumar, Malayalam cinema’s most famous and cherished comedian, who had to stay away from acting after an accident in 2012.

Vipin Mohan has been doing cinematography since 1979 and is still very much active in the industry, doing Paykappal in 2019. TN Krishnankutty Nair goes back a couple of decades, doing the cinematography of the 1960 film Umma and going on actively in the 60s and 70s. Sivan, a veteran photographer, has been a cinematographer and a director of a few films, spanning decades.

B Thyagarajan is a stunt master who has been choreographing stunts in Malayalam cinema since the time of Nazir, and has gone on to do so many films after that though he hails from Tamil Nadu. Stanley Jose is a filmmaker of the 1980s, who had earlier assisted in iconic films as Thacholi Ambu, the first cinemascope film and Padayottam, the first 70-mm film. K Raghunath who began his work as an assistant director has worked with Merryland and Udaya studios in Malayalam and with MGR for Sathya studio in Tamil, before turning independent. Ramachandra Sreenivasa Prabha or RS Prabhu has been a producer, actor and director of early films in Malayalam.

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