Friday, June 14, 2024

Remembering P.K. Rosy on 120th birth anniversary: Trailblazer of Malayalam cinema, survivor of casteism

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Today marks the 120th birth anniversary of P.K. Rosy, a trailblazer in the Indian film industry and the first female lead in Malayalam cinema. On Friday, Google has honored her with a doodle, recognizing her contributions to the world of cinema and her unwavering spirit in the face of adversity.

P.K. Rosy was not only the first female lead in Malayalam cinema but also the first Dalit female actor. Despite her achievements, her journey was not without challenges.

When the film “Vigathakumaran” was screened at Capitol Cinema in Thiruvananthapuram, the audience was reportedly angry that a Dalit woman had played the role of a Nair woman. The film had a scene showing her lover (played by J.C. Daniel) kissing a flower she had worn in her hair, which enraged the upper-caste people and resulted in stones being thrown at the screen, causing damage to the cinema.

Apart from a still from the movie, there are no existing prints of Vigathakumaran now.

PK Rosy is believed to have been born as Rajamma in 1903 to Paulose and Kunji in Thiruvananthapuram. She was reportedly a grass-cutter who showed immense interest in acting, and would insist on going for rehearsals at the traditional school of performing arts where she studied Kakkarissi Natakam.

Some say that Rajamma became Rosamma and eventually Rosy because her family converted to Christianity. Some reports say that it was J.C Daniel who changed Rajamma’s name to ‘Rosy.’

Rosy was not allowed to watch the first public screening of the movie because of upper-caste Hindus’ threats. She could only watch the second show of the film.

Rosy was forced to leave Thiruvananthapuram, according to reports. Some accounts even say that her hut was burnt down by the upper caste Hindus.

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