Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Learning From the Past

While watching the recent Golden Globes and SAG Awards, and with all the Oscar buzz and accolades that Slumdog Millionaire is receiving, I've been thinking a lot lately about my grandfather's contribution to the Indian film industry.

Since childhood, I have heard whispers about my grandfather’s life and film career in India. At age 12, K.D. George left his home state of Kerala to find work after losing his mother and step-mother. He taught himself English, Hindi, and various other languages. He joined the British army, lived in Syria for some time, and learned to edit film and sound recordings. He went on to work in over one hundred films, most notably Chemmeen, the first South Indian film to win the Indian President’s Gold Medal for Best Film in 1965. In spite of his professional achievements, my grandfather was eventually terminated for his bad eyesight, and the financial demands of his greedy father and siblings took a devastating toll on him, my grandmother, and their children. When I lived with him several years before he died, one of the many things I remember is how his silence left me and my family with many unanswered questions. Why didn’t he keep track of the films he was involved with? Was his association with the film industry the reason why he hated movies later in life? Did he have many regrets?

When I started searching for K.D. George on the Internet, I wasn’t expecting to find anything. Among other things, I was surprised to discover that he was mentioned on IMDB for one film. With the help of a few family members, I have started to add more to my grandfather’s web page. It is my small way to pay tribute to his contributions to South Indian cinema. I have also learned how important it is to understand our mistakes, as well as those made in previous generations. I hope my grandfather agrees with me, wherever he is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grandpa was such a mystery, you are right Pauline. But that made me want to be around him, its almost as if we all knew he knew so much, but shut down communicating it all.

I remember all the funny quirks of his body - his "blue" eyes, his rubber nose, his big Homer Simpson belly that I swore had a baby in it, his strange pinky fingers: one permanently bent, the other armed with the longest nail you've seen.

Learning more and more about family is a blessing and an education on our roots.

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