P. K. Rosy
P. K. Rosy (Rajamma, Rosamma, Rajammal), a Dalit (purportedly a Christian) woman, was the first heroine of the first Malayalam language movie Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child), directed by J. C. Daniel. She played the character of a Nair woman "Sarojini" in the movie.
P. K. Rosy
Rosy in 1928
She was born to Paulose and Kunji, as Rosamma, in 1903 at Nandankode, Trivandrum to a Pulaya family. Her living relatives confirm her father died when she was very young leaving her family steeped in poverty. Her younger years were spent as a grass-cutter. But they also remember her incredible affinity towards the arts from when she was very young.
During those days, acting was often not a woman's work and women who considered acting as a serious profession were labeled licentious or "loose". Rosy's love for acting seems to have surpassed concerns she may have held for what society would call her.
Well before she was "discovered" in 1928 by the director J.C. Daniel she was already an experienced actor, skilled in a form of Tamil Dalit theatre called Kaakarashi. However, Dalits in Indian society have been historically ostracized from "mainstream" professions, relegated to the most degrading occupations and deemed spiritually polluting to touch. When Vigathukumaran was released, members of the feudal Nair community were enraged to see a Dalit woman portray a Nair woman. Many eminent members of the film industry at the time refused to come and inaugurate the opening of Vigathakumaran if Rosy was to be physically present there. The director, Daniel, himself didn't invite her to the opening at Capitol theatre in Thiruvananthapuram, fearing backlash. But Rosy had attended anyway, but was made to watch a second showing instead by lawyer who refused to inaugurate the film until she left.
Reports state that she fled in a lorry that was headed to Tamil Nadu, married the lorry driver, Kesavan Pillai and lived her life quietly in Tamil Nadu as "Rajammal".
In 2013, Kamal directed a biopic on Daniel, titled Celluloid. The film is partially based on the novel Nashta Naayika by Vinu Abraham, and also deals with the life of Rosy. Newcomer Chandni Geetha portrays her. Two other films about her life have also been made: The Lost Child and Ithu Rosiyude Katha (This is Rosy’s Story).
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