CHITRALEKHA FILM SOCIETY
In today’s Malayala Manorama newspaper, there is a write up on the first film studio and film society in Kerala which have completed fifty years in July 2015. Later on this studio in Akkulam on the outskirts of the then Thiruvananthapuram Corporation was taken over by the Air Force Academy.
I used to be a member of the Chitralekha Film Society, which was the first of its kind in Kerala. It used to have most of its screenings (16mm prints) in the museum theatre within the city. The society had much fewer members when compared with Chalachitra Film Society which had its screenings in Tagore Theatre. Sri Adoor Gopalakrishnan (film director who started the studio along with Kulathoor Bhaskaran Nair), Sri KP Kumaran, Sri Vijayakrishnan, Sri MF Thomas and many others connected with the film industry used to be among the members. Dr. Thomas Issac used to come along with his friends in Centre for Development Studies. I had visited the film studio few times since the film society used to have some screenings in the preview theatre. On some holidays, as much as five movies were screened on the same day.
Later on I got a chance to work with Sri Laurie Baker, who had designed the film studio. Baker's creativity and his architectural vocabulary can be very well understood from this building complex. The use of brick jallis to make it look like a Kathakali mask was quite rare among Baker's buildings. When I joined him in 1984, there were no construction works being carried out in the film studio and it was already having its downfall. Once the air force academy took over the film studio, many would not have seen these buildings. I am posting some old photos which I have taken in the early 1980s.