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Delving deep into history of Malayalam film, in the light of the award-winning film 'Celluloid', will helps us discover some bitter truths that have long been swept under carpet. The life of J .C Daniel and his tragic end after an arduous struggle to make the first Malayalam celluloid was being neglected by  the corrupt  politics of the privileged classes in society for a long time. The then government's apathy in accepting him as the Father of Malayalam cinema coupled with its disinterest in extending a helping hand to his  family at the time of distress will for ever leave a deep scar in the sensibilities of Malayalam film fraternity. More so when we remember the fact that  the unsung hero was pushed from prosperity into  penury only for the sake of realizing the dream of  making the first Malayalam cinema.
 J.C Daniel
The saga of the pioneer of Malayalam cinema was brilliantly reproduced in ‘Celluloid’, the biopic which has bagged seven State Awards for 2012, including the best film.  The film on J. C Daniel, who was the producer- director of the first Malayalam movie Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child) released in 1930, was directed by the well-known film maker, Kamal.   It tells the story of J.C.Daniel's turbulent life, the making of Vigathakumaran and the excommunication of its heroine P.K. Rosy, the first Malayalam actress. Being a Pulaya girl, who was considered untouchable by upper caste Hindu community in those days,  Rosy had  to run for life to an unknown village in Tamil Nadu. But the film stops short of naming two persons in particular, who were behind all the injustice done unto J.C Daniel and his struggling family. They were the persons who were instrumental in denying J.C. Daniel the rightful place he deserved in history , and the title of the Father of Malayalam cinema for a long period.

The two well-known figures are: Malayatoor Ramakrishnan and K. Karunakaran. The duo schemed to bury the well documented historic files supporting J.C Daniel's claim of making the first Malayalam film and instead favoured  T.R Sundaram , a Salem-based Modern Studio owner and  producer of the film ‘Balan’ ( 1938) to be the official father of Malayalam cinema. In early seventies,  K. Karunakaran , the Home Minister in C . Achutha Menon Governement was also the Minister-in-charge of Cultural Affairs.  Malayatoor Ramakrishnan   was the then Cultural Secretary in the Government of Kerala. It is now open and clear that the two in power conspired to deny J.C Daniel his due – the title of Father of Malayalam cinema . It is an irony that Malayatoor, the very person who wrote the novel ‘ Yanthram’ (machine), which tells the story of chilling juggernaut of bureaucracy, delaying or denying justice to the needy, had done this to J.C Daniel.

The biopic on J.C Daniel is based on two books  - The Life of J.C Daniel , a biography written by film journalist Chelangat Gopalakrishnan and ‘ Nashta Nayika’ (The Lost Heroine ) , a novel by Vinu Abraham in Malayalam. Kamal says that the script is based on these two books. He said he has done justice to the lives of both J.C.Daniel and P.K.Rosy in the film. To a question put to him by Manorama Online as to why the two named were not revealed,  Kamal justified his stand by calling it as his artistic freedom.

He explained further: “It is true that K.Karunakaran and Malayatoor Ramakrishnan had played their roles in  denying justice to J.C Daniel. But people like Chelangat Gopalakrishnan tried their best to get J.C Daniel declared by Kerala government as Father of Malayalam Cinema. In my film ,  actor  Siddique essays Malayatoor's character as Ramakrishna Ayer. It is his (Malyatoor's)  real name and people closely watching my film can figure out Malyatoor in Siddique. As an artist and director I took my liberty to avoid popular names like Malyatoor and K.Karunakaran in the film. We may expand the canvass or reduce or even discard certain elements of original story for the sake of the creativity. Besides, I didn’t want a hullabaloo by raising those names in my film. Take it as my freedom as an artist.''  

“In fact , the privileged class in our society  had always tried to deny creative  people from the lower strata their due. And in Malayalam cinema, from J.C Daniel to Thilakan, this practice of victimaisation  has always  been there. Thilakan had to fight it out in the last stage of his eventful life. A person from Christian Nadar community making the first Malayalam cinema with an ‘ untouchable’ Pulaya girl in the lead was something beyond the comprehension of the upper caste Hindus in erstwhile Travancore. So they resorted to violence to stop the screening of the film in Thiruvananthapuram. The ‘ untouchable’ heroine had to run for cover when her house was attacked. This is history and history repeats itself in different forms as in the case of Thilakan,” Kamal added.

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