People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
The Sunset Of An Era
M A Baby
P BHASKARAN, the noted poet who breathed his last on February 25, leaves behind an indelible imprint of his creative personality on a wide range of diverse realms ranging from poetry to filmdom.
The multi faceted genius, who endeared himself to the hearts of many generations through his poems, lyrics and films rose to prominence in 40’s with a style that stood apart. The chaste Malayalam he used in his poems, the rustic images he brought in lyrics, and the down to earth themes he used in his films-all helped him to carve out a space of uniqueness for him in the cultural history of Kerala, within a span of a few years.
P Bhaskaran, Vayalar Rama Varma and O N V Kurup became a trio, which heralded a revolutionary literary movement that triggered off drastic changes in concepts, attitudes and the mental make up of millions. The role P Bhaskaran played in it will never be relegated to oblivion, even in times to come.
He had been a champion of Aikya Kerala movement, which called for the establishing of a state by merging together Travancore, Kochin, and Malabar, the provinces that were under different governance. ‘Padam Padam Urachu Namm’, the verse he wrote with the cause of a linguistic state in mind was a great source of inspiration for the ones who fought for Aikya Keralam.
Immediately after the Punnapra-Vayalar struggle in 1946 he had been to that land of martyrdom of dozens of revolutionaries and the experience of that visit prompted him to write the revolutionary poem ‘Vayalar Garjikkunnu’. It was a sublime articulation against the oppressive regime of the Diwan Sir C P Ramaswami Aiyer, who unleashed terror on the toiling workers and their families. The Communist movement of Kerala owes a lot to P Bhaskaran for the poem, which instilled the minds of Party men with a new hope and vigor at a time, when pessimistic clouds were looming large, following the brutal oppression of the uprising and the heinous killings of dozens of revolutionaries.
During his students days itself, he got attracted towards Congress and like all other radicals, he too joined Communist Party after a brief stint in Congress Socialist Party. Being a Communist, he had to under go a series of bitter experiences and sufferings. Once he was handcuffed, chained and paraded publicly by the police of the Diwan for having been a messenger of communist leaders who were working underground.
For having fought for freedom, he had to languish in Viyyur Central jail for six months. He had a past of having worked underground too. His commitment towards the Communist movement and its causes was unparalleled. At a time when conservative poets were reluctant to write poems on subjects relating to the down trodden, P Bhaskaran wrote number of poems and revolutionary songs for the Party, without any hesitation. He never thought that the association with the Left would amount to shrinking of creative genius. Later he chose to maintain some sort of a distance from the Party and at that time also he did not try to hush up his disagreement. At the same time he did not do anything to harm the Party or to write anything that is detrimental to the interest of the Party. He was always prepared to associate with it, and was even prepared to be part of the human chain, which was held under the auspices of the Kerala unit of the Democratic Youth Federation of India. Even at the time of certain disagreements, he believed that the communist movement is the only organisation that would ultimately liberate the toiling masses.
Vayalar Garjikkunnu was in every respect a clarion call against the onslaught of the mercenaries of Sir CP, the feudalist forces and the imperialist power, which always protected them under their wings. The poem shot him to prominence and the Communists all over Kerala kept him close to their hearts, following the publication of that poem, which was banned by the oppressive regime.
The poems he wrote during that time were marked by the sincerity of purpose, and the conviction on ideals. Some sort of a radiance of renaissance spirit emanated from the soul of those writings and it still continues to be so. The realistic life and the rustic relations truly get reflected in his poems of that era. The poems ‘Renabheri, Villali, Mulkireedom, Padunna Mantharikal etc genuinely sought to depict the sincere urge for making the life a livable one.
When he later turned to filmdom, he sought to usher in a new era, which was marked by a realistic approach. Till that period, the subject matter of films was the life of gods or kings. It was Bhaskaran who effectively intervened to replace it with the real life of the dispossessed. Thus came Neelakkuyil, which was a direct assault on the practise of untouchablity that was prevalent in many parts of Kerala. He dealt with it with a touch of sentiment and it became the depiction of the true life of a hapless girl, who was lured and left by the Castiest higher ups. Neelakkuyil brought laurels for him and it was that film which bagged the president’s medal for Malayalam, for the first time in history.
The songs he wrote for ‘Neelakkuyil’ had a folk touch and it ushered in an era of the songs of the soil, which marked a clear deviation for the ones that were dubbed from Hindi and Tamil.
The lyrics he wrote really touched the strings of the Malayali sensibility and it became part of the tradition, which Malayali has always been proud of. It was Neelakkuyil that brought a refreshingly new sensibility in the history of Malayam Cinema.
The stylistic lyrics he wrote, and the modern outlook with which he directed films made him a pioneer in the concerned fields.
The Communist movement of Kerala would always remember him with a sense of gratitude and reverence. I too join the millions who pay homage to the departed renaissance personality who contributed immensely towards enriching our sensibility, re-asserting our identity and taking our imaginations to a higher realm, which till that point of time remained unscaled.