A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the aged prints…
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Memories may surface and gain relevance from the unusual and contradictory relationship between space and time. This is because though time goes by, the places where it has dwelled remain largely unchanged. Esteem and memory are immortal and transcend time, and thus, people’s lives, even when they seem to have disappeared temporarily.
The almighty time allows life stories to dissolve in its past self, just as it allows them to reincarnate or resurrect in its present or future self. The life and filmography of Miss Kumari never faded in this regard, despite having received no meritorious souvenirs. Miss Kumari has lived on. Transcending time; having resurrected in time.
In the 1950s, Miss Kumari, the first lead actress of Malayalam Cinema, was destined to define a unique stardom without a predecessor and establish it in an exemplary manner through diligence, dedication and persistence. Along with her co-actors Sathyan and Prem Nazeer, she acted in the earliest groundbreaking Malayalam films as a protagonist – in both traditional and then-unknown realistic roles. In the same year, 1954, she played the mainstream role of a princess in the box-office hit Avakashi and the role of a dalit protagonist, Neeli, in the landmark film Neelakuyil, which, for the first time, won the President’s Silver Medal.
The versatile roles that she played in many films of the 1950s marked an extraordinary early phase of cinematic realism both in regional as well as national film history. This cinematic realism was clearly based on an emerging social realism leading to the inevitable transition of society in post-independent Kerala.
The Ninth of June 2019 marked the fiftieth death anniversary of Miss Kumari, which brought back memories of a unique life and time. The renaissance of memories of this artist of unparalleled beauty, character and charisma began in 2004 with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Neelakuyil (1954), a landmark of Malayalam film history. Since then, treasured memories have unfolded around the life and filmography of this gifted actress of Malayalam Cinema. Despite the irrevocable absence of her siblings, relatives, friends and colleagues from the film fraternity, memories rekindled and began to linger in all their freshness in the images and lyrics of her unforgettable films and film songs.
The time has finally come for an enduring commemoration that will forever present the unparalleled life of the most unique actress in Malayalam film history.
The most effective and insightful way to know about the first
Actor-Star of Malayalam Cinema is through her works and memories of her peers.