Kulathoor Bhaskaran Nair, Malayalam movie producer and one of the pioneers of the film society movement in Kerala, passed away on Monday. He was 83 and breathed his last at his home in Thiruvananthapuram.
Bhaskaran Nair produced two of Malayalam cinema’s iconic films – Swayavaram and Kodiyettam – both directed by legendary filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
Scene from Kodiyettam
Swayamvaram, which released in 1972, marked the debut of Adoor as a filmmaker. The film won four national awards, including best director for Adoor and best actor (female) for Sarada. Swayamvaram was also the first film produced by Chitralekha Film Cooperative, founded by Adoor and Bhaskaran Nair along with a few others.
“Chitralekha was also the name of the first film society founded in Kerala by the same team in the mid-1960s. Kulathoor Bhaskaran Nair was an official in the Khadi Board with an interest in architectural design who joined Adoor in starting the film society movement. His name is very significant in the history of the film society movement as well as in the production and distribution of good films in Malayalam,” says VK Joseph, critic and secretary of the Federation of Film Societies of India, Kerala Region.
Chitalekha film studio in early 80s / Courtesy - Benny Kuriakose
After forming the film society, the same team registered the Chitralekha Film Cooperative as a film production and distribution studio. Joseph says they had a beautiful building built by the renowned British architect Laurie Baker who had made Kerala his home. “They also had plans to open theatres in different cities in the state and had bought land for it. Behind all of this was Bhaskaran Nair’s strong leadership,” Joseph says.
Six years after Swayamvaram came Kodiyettam, again directed by Adoor and produced by Bhaskaran Nair. It won several national awards and state awards, and actor Gopi winning awards at both levels emerged as a performer to reckon with.
But afterwards, the team at Chitralekha parted ways owing to differences. Bhaskaran Nair and Adoor went their separate ways.
Bhaskaran Nair continued to be active in the film society movement for years, until he got too unwell.