Thoppil Bhasi

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Thoppil Bhasi
Thoppil Bhasi
BornThoppil Bhaskara Pillai
8 April 1924 [1]
Vallikunnam, Alappuzha
Died8 December 1992 (aged 68)
OccupationPlaywright, Script writer, Film Director
Language Malayalam
Notable awards Kerala Sahithya Academy Awards, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy, Professor N Krishna Pillai Award, SovietLand Nehru Award
SpouseAmminiamma [1]
Children4 sons – Ajayan, Soman, Rajan and Suresh, and daughter Mala . [1]

Thoppil Bhasi (8 April 1924 – 8 December 1992) was an Indian Malayalam-language playwright, screenwriter, and film director. He was associated with the communist movement in Kerala and his play Ningalenne Communistakki (You Made Me a Communist) is considered to be a groundbreaking event in the history of Malayalam theatre. [2]

Malayalam language spoken in Kerala and Lakshadweep of India

Malayalam is a Dravidian language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry (Mahé) by the Malayali people, and it is one of 22 scheduled languages of India. Malayalam has official language status in the state of Kerala and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry (Mahé) and is spoken by 38 million people worldwide. Malayalam is also spoken by linguistic minorities in the neighbouring states; with significant number of speakers in the Nilgiris, Kanyakumari, and Coimbatore districts of Tamil Nadu, and Kodagu, Mysore and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Due to Malayali expatriates in the Persian Gulf, the language is also widely spoken in Gulf countries.

Kerala State in southern India

Kerala is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions. Spread over 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi), Kerala is the twenty-second largest Indian state by area. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. With 33,387,677 inhabitants as per the 2011 Census, Kerala is the thirteenth-largest Indian state by population. It is divided into 14 districts with the capital being Thiruvananthapuram. Malayalam is the most widely spoken language and is also the official language of the state.

Ningalenne Communistakki is a Malayalam socio-political play by Kerala People's Arts Club (KPAC). This was the second and most popular stage play of KPAC. This drama propelled KPAC into the forefront of kerala cultural scene and played a historical role in popularising the Communist movement in Kerala during 1950's eventually leading to the establishment of first democratically elected communist ministry in the world in 1957 in Kerala under E. M. S. Namboodiripad.


Early life

Born Thoppil Bhaskara Pillai, on 8 April 1924 at Vallikunnam in Alleppey district, Kerala, Bhasi was the eldest son of Thoppil Parameshwaran Pillai and Nanikkutti Amma. [3]

Vallikunnam village in Kerala, India

Vallikunnam is a village in Mavelikara taluk of Alappuzha district in the Indian state of Kerala.

Alappuzha district District in Kerala, India

Alappuzha is one of the 14 districts in the state of Kerala in India. It was formed as Alleppey District on August 17, 1957. The name of the district was officially changed to Alappuzha in 1990. Alleppey town was renamed Alappuzha in 2012, even though the anglicised name is still commonly used to describe the town as well as the district.


His elementary education was at the SNDP Sanskrit School, and later on at the Sanskrit School, Changankulangara, from where he graduated in the Sanskrit Shastri course. Knowing fully well his desire to learn indigenous medicine, his father had him enrolled at the Ayurveda College, Thiruvananthapuram. It was here that he spearheaded the Students' Agitation that led to installing many of the facilities and rights enjoyed by the current generation of students at the College of Ayurveda. He also graduated securing the Top Rank in the Vaidya Kalanidhi Examination. [3]

Sanskrit language of ancient India

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

Changankulangara town in Kerala, India

Changankulangara is a small town in Kollam district in Kerala, India. Sree Mahadevar Temple is main importance. Changankulangara Sree Mahadevar Temple is one of the ancient temples in south India. It is situated in the historically famous Ochira village of Kollam District, Kerala State. It is one of the famous 108 Shiva Temples installed by the Lord Parasurama.

Social life

His deep and enduring friendship with Kambisseri Karunakaran that extended through all spheres of their lives, also saw them at the forefront of some of the most significant political agitations in central Kerala. Once a staunch supporter and activist of the Indian Congress party, Thoppil Bhasi soon distanced himself from the same on matters of principles and found his direction in the neo movement of Communism via the Communist Party of India. He was associated with the communist movements that took place in Kerala during the 1940s and 1950s. Branded a Subversive and a Wanted Man by the government, he was on the run and went underground during the period of 1948–52, as a top priority suspect in the infamous Sooranad Incident, with a Rs 1000 bounty on his head. He was later acquitted, and went on to contest the first Panchayat elections in Kerala. He won, becoming the first president of the Vallikunnom panchayat. He was elected twice to the state assembly contesting the State elections, from Bharanikkavu in 1954 and Pathanamthitta in 1957. [3]

Kambisseri Karunakaran was an Indian journalist writing in Malayalam language. He was the chief editor of Balayugam, the novel Pathippu, Cine Rama, Janayugam Varika (Weekly) and Janayugam Daily, a group of publications in Malayalam language, owned by the Communist Party of India. Beside being a journalist he was a politician, orator, actor, satirist and rationalist.

Communist Party of India Indian political party, established 1925

The Communist Party of India (CPI) is the oldest communist party in India. It is one of the eight national parties of India. There are different views on exactly when it was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by the CPI is 26 December 1925. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), also a national party, separated from the CPI in 1964 following an ideological rift between China and the Soviet Union, continues to claim having been founded in 1925.

Sooranad village in Kerala, India

Sooranad North is a village in Kollam district in the south west Indian state of Kerala.

KPAC, theatre and Malayalam films

Thoppil Bhasi never contested any more elections post his 1957 win, to devote his entire energies to this new direction his life has set course on – theatre. He had written his first One-act play Munnettam (The Advance) while on the run from the state, and based on the feedback received from the underground collective, had revisited, refined and re-energised the plot from a different perspective, creating the historical Ningalenne Communistaakki , both under his pseudonym Soman, for fear of revealing his true identity. The drama helped KPAC to become a force to reckon with on Kerala's theatrical arena. Later,he wrote scripts for 110 Malayalam films starting from 'Mudiyanaya Puthran' in 1961,most of them mega hits. [3]

Kerala Peoples Arts Club

Kerala People's Arts Club (KPAC) is a theatrical movement in Kayamkulam, Kerala, India. It was formed in the 1950s by a group of individuals having close ties with Left-wing politics parties of Kerala. This political theatre was very influential in propagating communist ideas in Kerala.

His association with KPAC started with the staging of Ningalenne Communistaakki , and the entire proceedings from the show were donated towards the attorney fees needed to free the rest of accused in the Soornad Incident. He wrote the play Ningalenne Communistakki while in hiding in connection with the Sooranad case, which resulted from a revolt by agricultural workers against a landlord. Bhasi had to write the play under the name, Soman. Ningalenne Communistakki was first staged (under the banner of KPAC) in Chavara in Kollam district on 6 December 1952. He wrote 16 plays, for KPAC, each more spectacular and socially relevant than its predecessor and it used to be said in the 60s and 70s that there wasn't a day where at least one of his plays was not staged at any part of Kerala! Such was the influence of his creative power. From KPAC, he slowly moved to the film industry (some say it was a natural progression), authoring over 100 Screenplays and turned to directing 16 movies in Malayalam language, most of them box-office successes. [3]

Chavara Suburb & Block in Kollam, Kerala, India

Chavara is a village in Karunagappally taluk, Kollam district, Kerala, India .It is a part of Quilon Lok Sabha constituency. The MLA of the Chavara constituency is currently Vijayan Pillai.

Kollam district District in Kerala, India

Kollam district is one of 14 districts of the state of Kerala, India. The district has a cross-section of Kerala's natural attributes; it is endowed with a long coastline, a major Laccadive Sea seaport and an inland lake. The district has many waterbodies. Kallada river is one among them, and the east side land of river is EastKallada and the west side land is WestKallada. Kallada Boat race is one among the famous festival events of district. Even though it is a competition between two land sides of the river, many boat clubs from various place,s even beyond the district participate in the event. Kollam is the capital of Kerala's cashew industry. Plains, mountains, lakes, lagoons and backwaters, forests, farmland and rivers make up the topography of the district. The area had trading relationships with Phoenicia and Ancient Rome.

Personal life

Thoppil Bhasi's wedding with Amminiamma, the niece of C Shankaranarayanan – ex-Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly was solemnised when he was on the run, a wanted man for the government! In a moving tribute, aptly titled 'My Comrade', Amminiamma, amongst other nuggets, shares her husband's principle of simplicity and frugality in every aspect of his life. She recalls Udaya studio's Kunchacko asking her to buy him a new shirt as he was fed up of seeing Thoppil Bhasi in the same shirt every time! Thoppil Bhasi seems to have famously remarked, "Chackochen, I have 8 shirts of the same colour and type, and all eight have the same 'beedi-burn' patch at the left side of my breast-pocket !" He was the quintessential socialist, according to her. Thoppil Bhasi has 4 sons – Ajayan, Soman, Rajan and Suresh, and daughter Mala . Ajayan went on direct the award-winning Malayalam film Perumthachan in 1991. [3]

Awards and recognition

Thoppil Bhasi's dramas, Mudiyanaya Puthran and Puthiya Akasham, Puthiya Bhumi were awarded the Kerala Sahithya Academy Awards, and the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy awarded him its Fellowship in 1981. He is also the recipient of the Professor N Krishna Pillai Award and the SovietLand Nehru Award. [3] He also was awarded the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film for directing Sarasayya in 1971 and the Kerala State Film Award for Best Story for Mooladhanam in 1969.

Literary works

Thoppil Bhasi was prolific in terms of his creative output during his active years in theatre and movies. He authored 16 full-length plays, screenplays for over 100 movies, directed 16 movies and his autobiography was titled, Oliviley Ormakal. He was a regular contributor to the Janayugom Magazine and short stories to various publications which are yet to be collated and archived. [3]


Thoppil Bhasi died on 8 December 1992. [3]

Selected books

  1. Ningalenne Communistakki: a drama which has influenced the politics of Kerala.
  2. Thulabharam and many screen plays.
  3. Olivile Ormmakal: give light to the life of many communists who are not known outside.



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  2. "Path-breaking plays". Frontline. 12 May 2001. Archived from the original on 30 December 2001. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 KPAC, Thoppil Bhasi | A Profile