Manju Warrier is regarded by many as one of the finest actors Malayalam cinema has produced. Vineeth has succeeded both in films and dance.
Binny Krishnakumar is a well-known classical and playback singer. Vinduja Menon, Vineeth Kumar, Ambili Devi, and Ponnambili Aravind have not done badly in the entertainment sphere, either.
They were all crowned Kalaprathibha or Kalathilakam — awarded to the individual champions for boys and girls respectively — at the State School Art Festival.
They have proved that the title went to deserving artistes. But there has been no title winner at the festival since 2005; it was discontinued citing unhealthy competition as a reason. “There should be a Man of the Match in any event, so the best has to be recognised,” said G.K. Srihari, the Kalprathibha of 1996. “I had competed and won in so many different disciplines, such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattom, Folk Dance, and Chakyarkoothu to get my title. I think it is unfair that such an honour is denied to today’s young artistes at the festival,” he said.
N.M. Padmini, Kalathilakam of 1997 nods in agreement. “I feel the titles should be restored and that would only add to the excitement of the festival,” she said. Vineeth said winning the first Kalaprathibha title in 1986 was one of the happiest moments of his life.
Vinduja Menon, who was the Kalathilakam of 1992, said the titles should be restored as soon as possible. “And I do not support this idea of giving everyone an ‘A’ grade, instead of declaring in public the winners,” she said. “Every competition needs a winner,” she added.
Architha Anishkumar, who was one of the brightest stars at the last festival in Thrissur, admitted she wished there was still the practice of giving away the Kalathilakam title. “You know, I stood a very good chance of winning it,” she said.
“The titles were abolished apparently to avoid unhealthy competition, but can they say there is no unhealthy competition now?” asked Sreehari.
Has ‘unhealthy competition’ been done away with, ask previous champions of the art fete.