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THE LOST HEROINE

 

Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | Translated into English

THE LOST HEROINE (Nashtanaika)

This poignant translation by C.S. Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok brings alive the world of early Malayalam cinema and the people who pioneered it, weaving within it a universal story of ambition, desire and the faultlines of caste and religious bigotry.

Full Title: The Lost Heroine

Author: Vinu Abraham
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing
Translator: C.S. Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok
Original Language: Malayalam

Award Category: Translated into English
About the Book: 

Growing up in a district in Kerala, spinning idle dreams as she worked in the fields, Rosy had never been to the cinema. Her only brush with fame had been to act in the local Kakkarissi plays. So when Johnson Sir, her well-to-do neighbour, asked if she would like to play the role of heroine in a movie his friend Daniel was making, Rosy could scarcely believe it.
In a matter of weeks, Rosy, a poor Dalit Christian girl of the Pulaya caste, was transformed into Sarojini – the beautiful Nair girl who lived in a grand tharavad, wore mundus and blouses of the finest silk and gold jewellery from head to toe. Sarojini, with whom the handsome Jayachandran falls in love at first sight as she sits at her window playing the veena.
Rosy’s dream world comes to an end when the last scene is shot. A harsh reality awaits her when the film is screened at the Capitol Theatre in Trivandrum. There is shock and horror in the audience as the film rolls.
All hell breaks loose, and Rosy narrowly escapes death only to spend the rest of her life in anonymity. It is only in a forgotten roll of film that their story lives on. The story of Vighathakumaran (The Lost Child), the first film ever to be made in Malayalam, in the year 1928.
This poignant translation by C.S. Venkiteswaran and Arathy Ashok brings alive the world of early Malayalam cinema and the people who pioneered it, weaving within it a universal story of ambition, desire and the faultlines of caste and religious bigotry.


About the Author: 

Vinu Abraham is a well-known writer of short stories, novels, film scripts and essays in Malayalam. He has published twenty-three books, including eleven short story collections and four novels. A winner of several prestigious Malayalam literary awards, he has also won the Best Scriptwriter Award for the film Parudeesa in the Mexico International Film Festival. A native of Nedungadappally in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, he lives in Thiruvananthapuram.

About the Translators
C.S. Venkiteswaran is a reputed film critic and essayist writing in both Malayalam and English.
Arathy Ashok is a professor of English who engages in translations and other writings.


Excerpt: 

‘ROSY, ARE YOU feeling sleepy?’
Startled, Rosy opened her eyes. Standing in front of her was Daniel. She hurriedly began to get up from the grass mat.
‘No need to get up now. We’ll call you when it is time for you to act,’ he said, and walked away.
How could I tell Daniel Sir that I had not been sleeping but praying? I was praying to God that whatever I do should come out good, and that this cinema business should go well. It is a habit from my childhood—whenever I am doing something important, I start only after prayers.
Today is the day I am going to become a film actress—a heroine in a film! The first film heroine in this land of Malayalam! Only a few minutes left for that…soon, the camera will capture my face and body into film.
A fortnight back, when Johnson came home and told her about this, she couldn’t believe it at all.
It was afternoon. Her Amma and Appan had gone out for work. Since she had no work that day, she had stayed at home. Having had her tapioca and fish curry, she was sitting under the papaya tree in the front yard, washing the pots. Then she heard someone clearing his throat. When she raised her head to look, she saw Johnson standing outside the hut. Hey! How come Johnson Sir is here?


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