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Activist and actor

N.J. Nair

Tribute KPAC Sulochana's songs voiced the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a movement.



Cultural ambassador: KPAC Sulochana

Five decades ago, when the Left and progressive movements in Kerala were still in a nascent stage in the State, a group of committed activists led by G. Janardhana Kurup, Punalur Rajagopalan Nair and K.S. Rajamony resolved to take the message of the proletarian movement to the people.

On realising the immense potential of theatre, they decided to form the Kerala People's Arts Club to disseminate the message through plays. When stalwarts like O.N.V. Kurup and G. Devarajan composed the songs for the KPAC, it was Sulochana's melodious voice that captured the soul of the songs and immortalised them.

Her songs made Sulochana one of the cultural ambassadors of the Communist movement. Her voice enriched the lyrics and music and conveyed the pathos and simplicity that marked the life of the underprivileged in those times.

After making her debut in `Ente Makananu Sheri' written by Thoppil Bhasi, Sulochana went on to leave her indelible stamp on the many characters she portrayed on the stage. She became the voice of the ONV-Devarajan duo. Sulochana's clear diction and mellifluous voice made the KPAC sings a big hit. Her style of rendition perfectly suited the revolutionary and folk songs that were widely used in the plays of the KPAC. Along with songs like `Vellaram Kunnile... ,' `Ambili Ammava... ' and `Cheppu Kilukkana Chengathi... ,' music buffs still cherish songs like `Nammalonnane Paadum Nammlonnane... ' and `Kilukilukkam Cheppukale Kilikale Kilikale... .'

Spirited performance

Sulochana excelled both as an actress and as a singer. Many veterans of the stage point out that Sulochana was one artiste who could act without glycerine. She took to acting at a time when conservative elements in society felt that it was not an "honourable" profession. But Sulochana had an indomitable will and she refused to be bowed down by such threats. Without the support of a microphone or even opulent sets, Sulochana endeared herself to audiences all over Kerala through her spirited performances.

Those associated with the KPAC still remember her performance as Mala in `Ningalenne Communistakki' and as Sarojam, the leprosy patient in `Aswamedham.' So poignant was her portrayal of Sarojam, that many viewers believed that she herself was a victim of the disease.

Her entry into cinema was through `Kaalam Marunnu' (`Aa Malar Poikayil... ') in 1955. The song, `Thumbapoo Peynna Poo Nilavae... ' in `Randidangazhi' also became a hit.

However, Sulochana could not make much of an impact as a playback singer as she found it difficult to modulate her voice to suit different characters. Her career in cinema was confined to three films - `Kaalam Marunnu,' `Ara Pavan' and `Krishna Kuchela.'

Sulochana would be remembered best as an artiste who heralded a movement and voiced the aspirations of the downtrodden.

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