Thoppil Bhasi | A Profile

Thoppil BhasiBorn Thoppil Bhaskara Pillai, on April 8, 1924 at Vallikunnam in Alleppey district, Kerala, Bhasi was the eldest son of  Thoppil Parameshwaran Pillai and Nanukkutti Amma. 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, Thiruvanathapuram.  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 tthe College of Ayurveda. He also graduated securing the Top Rank in the Vaidya Kalanidhi Examination.

His deep and endearing 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. 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 Shooranad 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 Sate elections, from Bharanikkavu in 1954 and Pathanamthitta in 1957.

KPAC, Theater and Malayalam Films

Kambissery Karunakaran MLA as Paramu Pilla in Ningalenne Communistaakki (1953)

Kambissery Karunakaran as Paramu Pillai | Ningalenne Communistaakki (1953)

Thoppil Bhasi never contested any more elections post his 1957 win, in order to devote his entire energies to this new direction his life has set course on – theater. 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.

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 16 plays, for KPAC, each more spectacular and socially relevant than its predecessor and it used to be said in the 60’s and 70’s 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 slowed 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.

Personal Life

Thoppil Bhasi's Family An Early Years Photo

With wife Amminiamma, daughter Mala, son Rajan

Thoppil Bhasi’s wedding with Amminiamma, the niece of C Shankaranarayananex-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 everytime! Thoppil seems to have famously remarked, “Chackochen, I have 8 shirts of the same color 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 Perunthachan in 1991.

Awards & Recognitions.

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.

Literary Works.

Thoppil Bhasi was prolific in  terms of his creative output during his active years in theater and movies. He authored 16 full-length plays, screenplays for over a 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.

Thoppil Bhasi passed away on December 8, 1992.


4 comments on “Thoppil Bhasi | A Profile

  1. sir plz make this video available to us

    • Dear Biju,
      I DO NOT OWN the video as I have previously stated. I thought it was prudent and relevant enough when I came across it that I embedded it here. I DO NOT HAVE ANY CONTROL if the original uploader decides to pull it down or keep it private..Why not leave a message directly to the uploader on Youtube? Regards..

  2. i cant view the video…can you make it public or allow me permission to view this..

    • Dear Shiju,
      The embedded video was a relevant one that was available on Youtube. It is unfortunate that it had been reverted to Private mode. Will try to find an equivalent/relevant one and have it embedded as and when it comes available..Thanks for writing in..KPAC Soman

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