Published: 09th October 2019
This film society by WCC is a tribute to the first Malayalam female actor P K Rosy
P K Rosy Film Society started by the Women in Cinema Collective aims to view cinema academically and celebrate feminist politics
Cinema being an inclusive space for women and minorities has always been a controversial and debatable topic. Even in 2019, we still see talents from gender, caste, religious and ethnic minorities finding it hard to establish themselves. But then, 89 years ago, in pre-independent India, a young Dalit woman was brave enough to dress up as an upper-caste woman and act in a film called Vigathakumaran.
Now, this sparked a lot of obvious controversies. This was the first time that the people of Kerala saw a woman play a woman's role in a film. For most conservatives, this was unacceptable. On top of this, this was an untouchable lower caste woman who acted as an upper-caste Nair. The result? The actor P K Rosy and her family were harassed verbally and physically by an angry mob. Rosy fled her hometown and lived in a village in Tamil Nadu under a false identity. Her misfortune did not even let her see her own face on the big screen.
The new generation of women filmmakers and actors are knowingly or unknowingly indebted to Rosy. So, they thought of paying their tribute to her or rather apologizing to her, for the sins of the past. The Malayalam cinema's Women in Cinema Collective recently kickstarted an initiative called P K Rosy Film Society, with an aim to study cinema more academically and view it with a more aesthetic outlook.
"We wanted a space to study cinema academically. The talks for the same has been going on for a year. Now that we got a more conceptual clarity we formed this society," says filmmaker Archana Padmini, who is a member of the WCC. "Undoubtedly, P K Rosy is the mother of Malayalam cinema. Naming this society after her, is rather our apology to her, more than a tribute. This is a space where people could engage in cinema and related discussions irrespective of religion, caste or any other bias," she says.
Realising the need to conduct activities consistently to get the society up and running, Archana says that their main agenda is to organise film screenings every month. "We're also looking for more activities. Talks are going on about conducting film appreciation workshops and film writing workshops. Also, we want to conduct activities that define the film industry and organise technical workshops," she says.
"Thankfully, the response towards this society from the people have been very positive," says actor Sajitha Madathil, another WCC member. "Since WCC was started by the women in cinema, no one would take the initiative to begin a society like this, except us," she adds.
Sajitha also tells us that while setting up the society, the members got to know that Rosy's daughter is still alive. "Unfortunately, we could not meet her," she says. Elaborating more on the society's purpose, she says, "The viewing culture must change through films. Women's cinema must be celebrated. We want to bring out feminist politics in cinema and create positive changes in films."