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C. J. Thomas remembered

Special Correspondent


‘As a society, Kerala failed to appreciate the services of Kesari, M. Govindan and C.J.'


Kochi: Fifty years after he died, multifarious personality C.J. Thomas is remembered by Keralites as a pioneer, and still the best, in many fields.

At a programme organised by Orthic Creative Centre at Nanappa Art Gallery to commemorate the writer on his 92 {+n} {+d} birthday, artist M.V. Devan said C.J. was perhaps second only to Kesari Balakrishna Pillai to authoritatively write on painting. “His intense understanding of diverse disciplines and the matchless ability to put them across made him a messenger. He was among the few Malayalis with diverse abilities. But we failed to comprehend him fully,” said Mr. Devan.

Writer M.K. Sanoo, who recalled his association with the late writer, said that C.J.'s intellectual calibre and skills made him persona non grata. “His talents were largely unutilised as a person of his calibre was sort of persona non grata for even media organisations. As a society, Kerala failed to appreciate the services of Kesari, M. Govindan and C.J….Even many writers initially viewed C.J. as a rabble-rouser,” said Mr. Sanoo.

“C.J. could not remain a communist after quitting the theological seminary as he was against intellectual regimentation of all kinds,” he said. “C.J.'s works ‘Avan Veendum Varunnu' and ‘Evan Ente Priya Puthran' threw up probing questions that stemmed from his incisive thought. Acquiring energy and immaculate style of language from the Bible, he gave expression to his agnosticism and ‘existential humanism'. ‘1128-il Crime number 28', written by him, for instance, remains the single-best play of its kind in Malayalam theatre for its element of experimentation and dexterous blend of the real with the dramatic. In a short span of time, he became a towering personality with “Aa Manushyan Nee Thanne', ‘Dhikkariyude Kathal', and ‘Gopuram'; and the beautiful translations of ‘Life of Insects', ‘Oedipus' and ‘Antigone',” said Mr. Sanoo.

Screenplay writer John Paul said C.J's roles as the pioneering scenarist, film critic and theoretician needed in-depth study and analysis. Theatre personality T.M. Abraham said that C.J. created what came to be known as Brechtian theatre much before Bertolt Brecht himself came about with the concept of ‘epic theatre'.

Earlier in the day, the CD of a documentary on artist T. Kaladharan titled ‘Kaladharante Yathrakal', which was directed by K.S. Prasad of Cochin Guinness, was released at Nanappa Art Gallery by Education Minister M.A. Baby. Kerala Lalithakala Academy Chairman artist C.N. Karunakaran and film maker Mohan participated in the function.

The documentary, screened at the gallery, depicts the journey of the artist across various media, from oil, acrylic and watercolour to installation art and beyond. It also touches upon the role played by Mr. Kaladharan as an organiser to provide a platform to budding and upcoming artists.

As part of Children's Day celebrations, an exhibition of paintings by artist T. Kaldharan and his art students was also organised. Later, artist Satheesh Babu gave a demonstration of sculpting using terracotta for the benefit of young art students of Orthic Creative Centre.

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