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Sree Narayana Guru Mission pays tribute to P Bhaskaran with Sangeetha Sandhya

By Manambur Suresh

EAST HAM -- Sree Narayana Guru Mission organised a 'Chalachithra, Kaavya, Sangeetha Sandhya' in tribute to the poet, actor and director P Bhaskaran who passed away last year.

The event, organised by the Arts & Cultural Wing of SNGM, became an unique and memorable event in London`s cultural calendar and was a fitting tribute by Malayalees in the UK to the great maestro.

It was the first time in the history of Malayalees in Britain a film appreciation of this kind, with in-depth analysis and full use of audio-visual facilities, was organized.

The director of 'Neelakkuyil' P Bhaskaran, Pareekutty Sahib and their All India Radio and 'Kozhikode team' Uroob, Ramu Kaaryat, Abdul Kader and musician K Raghavan all received accolades from the various speakers during the evening of celebration.

The event became unique for the fact that a film made more than half a century ago was commemorated with poems songs and music 10,000 kilometers away from the home land! It was a fitting tribute to P Bhaskaran Master's first anniversary of demise.

P Bhaskaran's own words to the audience through file video gave an emotional and touching start to the evening. As curtain raiser to the event Anupama Rajeev`s recital, rather than singing, of P Bhaskaran's favourite song 'Kesaadipaadam thozhunnen' gave a sweet flavor to the programme and 'Thaamasamenthe varuvaan' another classic song of PB was rendered melodiously by Alex.

SNGM Arts and Culture wing chairperson Manambur Suresh chaired the event and detailed the background of 'Neelakkuyil'. Subash Sadasivan presented the film analysis. SNGM Vice President G Sasikumar and secretary P Mohanakumar addressed the audience.

Neelakkuyil, a background study - Looking at the background of the film Manambur Suresh says:

"Neelakkuyil was first released in Kerala on 10th October 1954. It was and is a cultural storm and shook the foundation of Kerala society which was hanging on the worst traits of caste system. For a film industry which was following the tracks of Hindi and Tamil melodramas 'Neelakkuyil' gave a distinct identity and planted it in the fertile cultural realm of Kerala. It also portrayed ordinary people who were caste away from the big screen, the portrayal of an ordinary authentic Muslim character was another example. It has nine songs written in the most simple and authentic style again ripened by borrowing from the language of the ordinary folks of Kerala, another first for P Bhaskaran master, 'kannilaalente karalinnuruliyil enna kaachiya nombaram', 'khalbilarinjappol innu njammale kayaru pottiya pambaram!!!! Only Bhaskaran master can pen these lines!

The film was released seven years after the independence of India. Neelakkuyil was bubbling with optimism about the future. The film invokes a new dawn and glorifies the upcoming of a "new man and a great citizen". The progressive political background of P Bhaskaran and Ramu Karyat played another influential role in that.

Neelakkuyil, which was awarded, for the first time for a Malayalam film, the Indian president's silver medal, was a new dawn in itself. Fifty-four years later we in London are celebrating the creation of the film, including the young audience here who were born thirty to thirty-five years after the release. That is because the film has the characteristics of a classic film.

Eventhough he directed many films 'Neelakkuyil' remained as P Bhaskaran`s own all time favourite. Kerala government celebrated the 50th anniversary of the film in Thrissur in 2004. Here we are studying the film in 2008 in great depth as a tribute to the master film maker and his legendary team" said Manambur Suresh.

Neelakkuyil in deep focus - Analysing the film Subash Sadasivan says:

"The Malayalam film Neelakkuyil (The Blue Cuckoo) made in 1954, by P. Bhaskaran and Ramu Kariat, in my opinion, is a timeless film. It's a perfect film, that is, there isn't a single bit of film that can be edited out, without it losing its true rationale and intentions. The film, taken from an original story and screenplay by Uroob, produced by T KPareekutty, starring Sathyan and Miss Kumari, delighted the audiences when it was released and has remained a classic for its simplicity and memorable songs.

The cinematographer A Vincent and music director K Raghavan, along with all others mentioned above, formed an effective, influential group of young dynamic talents of that era in the history of Keralean literature and art. The film can be split into four distinct segments: Happiness & Innocence, Sorrow & Denial, Regrets & Self Analysis, Revelations & Resolutions.

The film questions the basic principles of actions and reactions, these are carefully explained using the central character, an upper caste school master (Sathyan). The story is guided along by two other characters: the auteur, who is the postman, played by P Bhaskaran and the untouchable girl, Neeli, played by Miss Kumari. The story is simple: an untouchable girl is found dead with her illegitimate child, the child is adopted by the postman, a high caste Hindu.

No one knows the true identity of the real father of the child, until the child's real father, also an upper caste Hindu acknowledges paternity. As the story unfolds, the real father becomes agitated by guilt and anguish and then finally questions his previous actions. The film ends with the Master's own resolutions and true acceptance of his own child and self." said Subash Sadasivan.

Many people from the audience took an active interest in the discussion that followed. Manoj Siva, Joseph, Karthikeyan, Mohanakumar, Sasi S Kulamada, Satheesh, Valsamma Thankappan, Geeja Srilal and Krishnankutty were among the people who contributed to the valuable discussion.

P Bhaskaran`s indelible mark on the Malayalee psyche - Valsamma Thankappan, East Ham, London says:

"Neelakkuyil has made an indelible mark on the Malayalee psyche: homage to the great poet, actor and director P Bhaskaran!! Female characters of Neelakkuyil are still living as legends among the older women folks of Kerala. A heart rendering story is told using first time in Malayalam film the simple day to day language of the ordinary people. As with any other great film the multi layered film can be analysed in many ways. The film has brought the first national silver medal to Kerala.

I want to congratulate especially Manambur Suresh and Subash Sadasivan and the arts wing of SNGM for an excellent evening. Everyone enjoyed the evening immensely and would like more evenings like this "Chalathithra, Kaavya, Sangeetha Sandhya" to be arranged.

I think it would be better if more women come forward to interact and express their views in future events.

The presentations were timely, precise and superb - Manju Mandirathil, Esssex, says:

All credit to SNGM's arts wing who came with such a novel idea and for the time and energy they put to it. The session was quite interesting, something the average Malayalee community in the UK has not experienced before. The calmness in the hall during the entire session proves its success and it sunk well with the audience.

The interactive session was excellent although there were less participation from the women folks, which I believe will increase in forthcoming events. The presentations led by Subash Sadasivan and Manambur Suresh were timely, precise and superb. Hats off to President, Secretary and other EC members for supporting this kind of unique events. I hope to see more of such events which will bring to light our local talents, involving writers, poets, artists, actors, directors etc.

Truly educational and fascinating - Rajeev Kuppadakath, Harrow, says:

"I had this wonderful opportunity to attend to mark the first death anniversary of late poet P Bhaskaran organized by SNGM Arts and Cultural wing at Eastham a week ago.

It was an interesting program combined with review of Neelakuyil one of the greatest films ever made in Malayalam, discussion of the movie itself and some poems and film songs written by P Bhaskaran

For those of us who were not around when this film was first released it was truly educational as well as fascinating to know different facts about the movie and its creators on and off the stage. The theme of the movie was universal and will be relevant in any society in any age.

Many thanks for the organizers to arrange a function like this which was unique in its educational and entertainment value"

It gave me an insight into the creation of the film - Geeja Srilal, London, says:

"The evening set out for the open discussion of NEELAKYIL was an outstanding inspiration of the SNGM arts group. It gave me an insight into the creation of that film and educated myself more about the great director P.Bhaskaran. The whole idea of having a symposium about the classic movie was indescribable. The movie was made in 1954 and to have an evaluation of the movie after 54 years, shows that NEELAKYIL was or is still in everyone's heart.

The legendary song from the movie Ellarum Chollenu is still popular in any musical shows. The lyrics are so poetic yet simple everyday words used. Is that the beauty of the song? What does the movie portray? Is it Love, sympathy, cast, social status, women being weak, a tribe, blood relation? Well I believe it's a combination of all these. Although many directors have taken movies along the same theme, P.Bhaskaran still stands out for the big step he took to create this motion picture 54 years ago.

New idea and a new start: first time in Britain - Bindu & Karthikeyan, Harlow, says:

"It is a new idea and a new start. Unlike the typical celebration of an organisation it involved all the people who attended, everyone was able to contribute. The audience participation is paramount for such an event. Thanks to SNGM arts group. It was entertaining too with the recital of poems and songs etc. We overcame many personal hurdles to attend this function with our family and we are more than happy with the result. This is the first time I am attending a function of this kind in Britain. At other functions we are mere spectators, here all are participants. Everyone was able to contribute. We are really grateful to SNGM and its arts and culture wing.

A totally new experience - Sasi S Kulamada, East Ham, London, says:

"SNGM arts and cultural wing`s "P Bhaskaran anusmaranam - a Chalathithra, Kaavya, Sangeetha Sandhya" gave me a totally new experience. In the busy and ever changing life of London people are alienated and moving away from others. I hope this kind of cultural activity will bring people together and will serve to promote our language and culture. I would like to congratulate Subash Sadasivan and Manambur Suresh who were in the forefront to organize this unique event of SNGM.

Intellectual and delightful presentation - Satheesh, Barking, Essex, says:

"Through a selected good movie the evening made people think and it was an enjoyable subject of study. Really it was an intellectual and delightful presentation. Thanks to Subash Sadasivan and Manambur Suresh for the talk on the film and its background and Sanal Madhavan for audio visual support (Pattathil Vaijayan,Valsamma Thankappan, Vakkom G Sureshkumar and Giridharan for technical assistance).

About P Bhaskaran

Pulloottupadathu Bhaskaran Nair better known as P. Bhaskaran (April 21, 1924 - February 25, 2007) was a famous Malayalam poet and lyricist of Malayalam film songs. He penned for about 3000 songs in around 250 films. He also had directed and acted in several Malayalam films. He was a journalist and an All India Radio employee before becoming active in the film industry. He was well-known for simple but beautiful use of the language in his songs.

P. Bhaskaran was born on April 21, 1924 in Kodungallur, Thrissur, Kerala, India. His father, Nandyelathu Padmanabha Menon was a poet, lawyer, journalist and Indian freedom fighter. His mother was Pulloottupadathu Ammalu Amma. Having inherited his father’s talent, he started to write poems when he was studying in 7th standard. He fell in love with literature and communism when he was studying in Maharajas College, Eranakulam. He used to write poems in a local magazine. For taking part in the August Struggle, he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. After getting released, he went to Kozhikode and joined Deshabhimani Weekly.