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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

Remembering Chitralekha Film Society After 50 Years

In the Malayala Manorama newspaper of July 2015, there was a column on the first film studio and the first film society in Kerala which completed fifty years- the Chitralekha Film Society. It is present in Akkulam on the outskirts of the then Thiruvananthapuram Corporation area. I used to be a member of the there, 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.


CHITRALEKHA FILM SOCIETY

The society had fewer members when compared with the Chalachitra Film Society that had its screenings in Tagore Theatre. Sri Adoor Gopalakrishnan (a film director who started the Chitralekha 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 members of the film studio. Dr. Thomas Issac, former member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly used to come with his friends to the studio. I had visited the film studio a couple of times as they used to host screenings in the preview theatre. On certain national or local holidays, as much as five different movies were screened on the same day. Later on the Chitralekha studio was taken over by the Air Force Academy.


CHITRALEKHA FILM SOCIETY

Subsequently, 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 well understood from this building complex. The brick jallis have been made to look like a Kathakali mask. It is innovative and quite rare among his buildings to use motifs like this. It is nice to slow down and think about old memories once in a while. When I joined to work with him in 1984, there were no construction work carried out in the film studio and it was already in its downfall. Once the air force academy took over the Chitralekha film society, many would not have seen the photos of those buildings. I am adding some old photos here from the early 1980s.


CHITRALEKHA FILM SOCIETY
CHITRALEKHA FILM SOCIETY

2 comments

2 Comments


Meera Sahib
Meera Sahib
Feb 06

MF Thomas, Vijayakrishnan etc were not part of Film cooperative , but members of the film society, another entity. Moreover film society screenings were not organised in the studio theatre at Cheruvikkal, Akkulam but in the city especially in Tagore theatre etc. Screenings were held during a film appreciation course conducted by Chithralekha & Centre for Film Studies in which Prof. Satheesh Bahadur and Shri P. K. Nair participated as the faculty. Thomas Isaac might have visited the campus but not as a member of the Cooperative.

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VK Cherian
VK Cherian
Feb 05

HI Chitralekha film society and film co-operative which owned the studio are two separate entities...INfact co-operative people mentored and ran eh film society. Kindly correct it..

Thanks for these photos...which are not even with Adoor

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