Woman who walked ahead of her time

Jameela Malik dies at the age of 73

Jameela Malik, who died in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday at the age of 73, may not have made it big as an actress, but she was a woman who walked ahead of her time.

She joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, at a time when not many women in Kerala thought of learning acting academically. Jameela was the first woman from Kerala to study at the prestigious school for cinema.

She probably remained the only Malayali woman to appear in Malayalam cinema after graduating from the Pune institute. A girl hailing from a conservative Muslim family studying to act in films in the 1970s must have been unusual indeed.

Short career

But that background did not help Jameela make a successful career in cinema, though. She was noticed in films such as Ragging and Pandavapuram, but faded away before long.

“I remember her performance in Pandavapuram, which was a rather good film, directed by G.S. Panicker,” Pradeep Nair, a national-award winning director, told The Hindu. “And Jameela had done an excellent job. Her acting had that subtlety that you could find in actresses trained at the Pune institute like Shabana Azmi,” he said.

Mr. Pradeep said it was unfortunate that Jameela could not succeed as an actress in Malayalam cinema. “That may have been because she didn’t have the face or the figure of the typical Malayalam film heroine of the day,” he said.

“That was when leading ladies like Sheela, Jayabharathi, K.R. Vijaya, Sharada and Sreevidya reigned supreme. Someone like Jameela could easily have become successful heroine in today’s Malayalam cinema, though,” he added.

Life a struggle

It was equally unfortunate that Jameela had to struggle to earn a living. “I remember watching a television interview of hers in which she said that she had worked as a matron at a hostel,” said Mr. Pradeep. “I heard that she also gave Hindi lessons to students to make a living. It is strange that someone who was academically as qualified her was not given a job at the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy or at the film institute run by the government,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:05:58 PM |

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