P.K Rosy holds the distinction of being the first heroine and the first Dalit heroine of Malayalam cinema.
Most accounts of her life and work are not based on actual meetings with her as she passed away in 1988 and was never acclaimed or even acknowledged during her lifetime. However, her extraordinary life, when examined is full of instances courage, struggle and passion. Before she was discovered by the director of her film, she was already a member of folk theatre groups and had experience acting in Tamil dramas in A Dalit art form called Kaakarashi. In 1928, she was “discovered” by the director J.C Daniel and given the role of an upper caste (Nair) woman in the movie Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child).
When the movie was released, members of the Nair community were enraged to see a Dalit woman portray a Nair woman. Upper caste riots ensued. They vandalized the theatre, tore down the movie screen and proceeded to hunt down Rosy. They burned down her house but she managed to escape the angry crowd. Reports state that she fled in a lorry that was headed to Tamil Nadu, married the lorry driver and lived her life quietly in Tamil Nadu.
Whatever the case, her abilities and her Pioneering work as an actress in a caste feudo-patriarchal society must be celebrated. Only 5 years after her film was destroyed and she chased away from Kerala, upper caste women safely began acting in Malayalam films without any objection or attack. this means more than ever that We must keep the memory of P.K.Rosy’s talented and powerful Dalit womanhood alive.