The Kerala Government has embarked on a project to create a comprehensive archive to collect and preserve all available material linked to eight decades of Malayalam cinema.

As part of the endeavour, all related material, including negatives, digital copies, Beta copies, stills, song books, song disks and handbills would be collected from all possible sources and preserved, Minister for Cinema K. B. Ganesh Kumar said in a written reply in the State assembly today.

Kerala Chalachitra Academy has been entrusted with the task, he said.

The academy would write to studios (mostly in Chennai), individual collectors and other film-related institutions, requesting them to hand over the materials in their possession to preserve them for future generations.

Also, a hi-tech facility for preserving all available negative prints would be set up at the hill station of Munnar.

According to writer and film historian N. Balagopalan, Vigathakumaran (the lost child) was Kerala’s first silent film made in 1930, directed by J. C. Daniel.

The picture, however, was stalled from screening on the first day itself with sections of the audience at the Capitol theatre here damaging the screen, taking offence at the casting of an actress from a depressed section to portray the role of an “upper caste” lady.

The tragedy of Daniel and his heroine Rosy is the theme of Malayalam film Celluloid by noted director Kamal, to be released shortly.

The first Malayalam talkie Balan (Boy) was released in 1938, directed by M. S. Nottani based on the script of writer-actor Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai, who also penned 24 songs for the film.

The Malayalam film industry shifted to Madras (Chennai) by 1950 and it flourished there till the mid-1980s, before the production units largely returned to Kerala.

(This article was published on February 12, 2013)
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