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Actors from a different league

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From a bygone era: Sreedevi Kannambally, Kavunkara Bharghavi, V.N. Devasena and Uma Alambally, actors of ’Thozhil Kendrathilekku’ at a get-together at Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Akademi in Thrissur on Saturday.
From a bygone era: Sreedevi Kannambally, Kavunkara Bharghavi, V.N. Devasena and Uma Alambally, actors of ’Thozhil Kendrathilekku’ at a get-together at Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Akademi in Thrissur on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Actors of ‘Thozhil Kendrathilekku’ shared their experience with

the audience.

Thrissur: The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi witnessed a rare get-together on Saturday evening. The actors of ‘Thozhil Kendrathilekku’, a play written and enacted by the very first women’s collective in Malayalam theatre, shared their experience with the audience.

The function was organised in connection with the re-publication of the script of ‘Thozhil Kendrathilekku’, a play which triggered social reform in the Namboodiri community in the 1940s. In 1944, women expressed a strong desire to work and stand on their own fee, at a meeting of Antharjana Samajam, the women’s wing of the Yogakshema Sabha.

Thus, in 1947, E.M.S. Namboodiripad inaugurated a women’s collective, Thozhil Kendram, at Lakkidi Cherumangalathu Mana. The collective had 16 members. The Kedram gave basic education to members along with training in stitching, weaving and cooking. ‘Thozhil Kendrathilekku’, one of the first feminist plays in Malayalam, was a reaction of the oppressed women of the Namboodiri against gender inequalities. The script was based on life of Kavunkara Bhargavi, who was rescued by activists of Antharjana Samajam when she was forced to marry against her wish. The actors of the play, Sreedevi Kannambally, Kavunkara Bhargavi, V.N. Devasena and Uma Alambally were honoured at the function, organised by the Vanitha Sahiti. When the old revolutionaries met after many decades, they ran into memories of their eventful days at the Kendram.

Actors Nilambur Aysha, T. Santha Devi, singer Machad Vasanthi and activist P.K. Medini were present . Later, Kalapathaasala of Arangottukara staged a play ’Kattukondu Veedu Vakkunnavar’ under the direction of C.M. Narayanan. Sreeja Arangottukara and her daughter Savitri were the actors.

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