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Celluloid is a 2013 Malayalam biographical docudrama film co produced, written and directed by Kamal, starring Prithviraj, Sreenivasan, Mamta Mohandas and Chandni in the lead roles. Wikipedia
Initial release: February 15, 2013
Based on: Life of J. C. Daniel; by Chelangatt Gopalakrishnan; Nashta Naayika; by Vinu Abraham
Awards: Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor, MORE
Producers: Kamal, Ubaid
J.C.Daniel is highly educated and belongs to a well to do family in Trivandrum a main city in Travancore Province (Part of Today’s Kerala). He learns the art of Cinema and passionate to make a film of his own.
With the support of his wife Jannet (
) who accepts to sell their property for Daniel’s passion and a few other friends he starts ground work for the maiden Cinema of the Malayalam land. He establishes a films studio of his own and christens it as The Travancore National Pictures.
While other pioneers of Indian Cinema were handling only mythological scripts, Daniel pens a script based on a Social Theme. Since women acting in film are considered to be unchaste Daniel finds it hard to get a woman to don the role of his lead lady. Finally he zeroes in on Rosamma (Chandini)
Crossing various obstacles he releases the film titled Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child) in Trivandrum only to incur the wrath of dominant community people for casting a Dalit girl in the role of a Nayar (One of the Dominant Communities) girl.
The film’s screening gets forcibly stopped and the screening gets prohibited once for all. Rosamma and her family are chased away to an unknown place for her acting in the film.
Daniel and his wife Jannet shift to Agastheeswaram where Daniel learns Dentistry and makes a happy living. However fate plays its game in the form of actor P.U.Chinnappa (one of the famed Tamil actors of 1930s) who visits him for treatment and promises to do a film with him. With his passion unearthed again Daniel travels to Madras against his wife’s advice only to lose whatever he has earned as a Dental Doctor.
30 years later, Chelangat Gopalakrishnan (Srinivasan) a film Journalist comes to know about Daniel and tries hard to get the recognition he deserves for making the first film of Malayalam Land. However he could not get it done while Daniel is alive. The film ends with J.C.Daniel gets the recognition he deserves, Posthumously.
The film is a biopic of J.C.Daniel who made the first Malayalam non-talkie film Vigathakumaran, and considered as the Father of Malayalam Cinema. It is the dubbed version of the Malayalam film Celluloind that released several months back.
First thing to be mentioned is the films never evokes the feel of watching a dubbed movie. The lip sync of almost all the characters is cautiously well maintained. Special thanks to Yograj Balasubramaniam of Never Give Up films who has released the dubbed version.
The film starts 1928, with Daniel visiting Dada Sahib Phalke considered as the Father of Indian Cinema who made the first Indian film and Nataraja Mudaliar who followed suit in Madras. The film aptly captures the Initial days of Indian cinema and the way the films were being made in those days. Getting to see the Phalke directing a film and editing it in the processing room, Travancore people getting introduced to cinema with the non-talkie films of Charlie Chaplin, Heroine’s high handedness (that is relevant even today), the way the non-talkie films were shot, Film distribution and Marketing techniques of that period etc are relived in a appreciable manner. Kudos for the home work of writer Director Kamal to bring authenticity.
The film that speaks about the man, whose life was turned into disaster by the Caste differences of those days, makes the necessary impact without overdose of emotions or tearjerkers. The film also sheds light on the caste angle even in bureaucracy refusing to recognize Daniel’s efforts without naming anyone and doing this in a non fictional
stands proof for the cleverness of the Director.
Rosamma’s character has been etched with finesse. When she is asked to sit in front of everyone she sits on the floor instead of the bench and this aptly brings out the inferiority inculcated by the dominant castes in her mind. The scene where she is prohibited from watching the first show of the film she has acted in along with the dominant caste people, is heart wrenching.
The film is strictly for those who would love to watch biopic subjects and would not mind the documentary feel that cannot be helped beyond a point in such films. The film hardly includes anything that can be expected in a normal commercial fare.
gives a solid performance as young Daniel and his performance as the unhealthy old man is not jarring on any count. This is one of the films that can be recounted for Mamtha’s acting prowess. She excels with the right mix of emotions. Chandini as Rosamma is the show stealer. It wont be an overstatement to state that the expressions in her eyes helps to convey the emotions in a better way and justifies the limited number of dialogues for her character. Srinivasan is convincing and the cameos
and Thalaivasal Vijay deserve a mention.
There are only two songs in the film that runs close to two hours and the composer M.Jayachandran has rendered it in an ear pleasing manner. Re-recording passes muster.
Venu’s Cinematography aptly captures the beauty of Kerala and Southern Tamilnadu in pre-independence era.
The film which is the result of Kamal’s passion to explore the passion of one of his forefathers, J.C.Daniel deserves rousing reception.