Launchpad of stars: Asia’s biggest school cultural event ends in Kerala, Kozhikode wins the gold cup

BySreerag PS

Published Jan 07, 2023 | 4:41 PM Updated Jan 07, 2023 | 8:17 PM

Group dance continued to be the crowd-puller at the 61st Kerala School Kalolsavam. (Supplied)

North Kerala’s domination continued at the State School Kalolsavam with the host district, Kozhikode, winning the champion’s golden trophy on Saturday, 7 January.

The day began on an exciting note with both Kozhikode and Kannur engaged in a tough competition with 891 and 883 points, respectively.

Kozhikode added 54 more points to win the trophy while Kannur shared second place with Palakkad, the defending champion, with 925 points. Thrissur and Ernakulam followed with 915 and 881 points, respectively.

Dubbed Asia’s biggest school-related cultural event, as many as 14,000 school students competed in 239 events held at 24 venues in the five-day event.

Kozhikode continued its winning streak in the High School category with 446 points. Palakkad came second with 443 points, and Thrissur grabbed 436 points to claim the third slot.

In the Higher Secondary category, Kannur topped with a score of 550 points, followed by Kozhikode (499) and Palakkad (482) at the second and third positions.

Kollam won the bragging rights in the Sanskrit Kalolsavam with 95 points. Palakad won the Arabic Kalolsavam with 95.

Alathur school leads others

BSS Gurukulam School at Alathur in Palakkad came first among schools with 156 points, while Carmel EM Girls Higher Secondary School at Vazhuthacaud in Thiruvanathapuram came second with 142 points.

Durga HSS at Kanhangad in Kasaragod took the third slot with 114 points.

Participating in the school Kalolsavam is a tough task. Students initially compete with their counterparts from the neighbouring schools at the sub-district Kalolsavam, to win a ticket to the district-level Kalolsavam.

Those excelling at the district level compete at the mega state-level Kalolsavam.

The students are given grace marks if they win an A grade at the state school Kalolsavam. Thanks to the media coverage, the festival gets statewide attention and recognition.

Launchpad for stars

The annual cultural fest in its six-decade-long history has contributed significantly to finding and nurturing talents. Leveraging the platform to exhibit talent, numerous prominent individuals in the domain of art and culture made their initial mark at the School Kalolsavam.

For many, Kalolsavam was the launchpad to the tinsel world. Here is a list of Kalolsavam winners who made it big later in various fields:

Malayalam film actors

Expectedly, the Malayalam industry benefitted the most from the talents Kalolsavam has introduced over the years.

Manju warrier

Actress Manju Warrier. (Facebook)

Numerous actors and singers made their mark in the film field after they showcased their talent at the festival.

The list includes actors like Manju Warrier, currently the most celebrated female actor in Malayalam cinema. Warrier was awarded the Kalathilakam title (Best Female Performer) in 1992 and 1995.

Malayalam actor Ajay Kumar, popularly known as Guinness Pakru, missed the Kalaprathibha title (Best Male Performer) at the Tirur Kalolsavam three decades ago.

Earlier, Pakru had a forgettable debut at the Kalolsavam when he competed in the fancy dress competition. He later added kathaprasangam (the art of storytelling by blending songs and speech), mono-act, and mimicry to his repertoire and became a little big star at Kalolsavam venues.

Guinness Pakru

Guinness Pakru. (Facebook)

Incidentally, Pakru won the Guinness world record for the shortest actor to act in a character role in a full-length film — hence his popular name.

Other prominent actors who evolved through the festival include Vineeth, who won the Kalaprathibha award in 1986, and Divya Unni who won the Kalathilakam titles in 1990 and 1991. Other actors include Navya Nair, Kavya Madhavan, and Vindhuja Menon.

The photograph of an inconsolably crying Navya — after losing the Kalathilakam title in a controversial decision to Ambili Devi — published in newspapers in 2001 is still fresh in the memory of Malayalis. Navya was the Kalathilakam at the Alappuzha district Kalolsavam that year.

Actor Vineeth shot to fame with his stupendous Bharatanatyam recital in the 1980s. He was the champ for four consecutive years.

Playback singers

KJ Yesudas

KJ Yesudas

It may come as a surprise to many but iconic singer KJ Yesudas was once a Kalolsavam winner. Actor and director Vineeth Sreenivasan, who started his career as a playback singer, had contested in Mappilappattu (folklore Muslim songs) in 2000.

Yet another leading playback singer who needs no introduction is legendary singer KS Chithra. She won the first prize for singing in the year 1978. Veteran singer P Jayachandran has also participated in the school Kalolsavam.

Politicians too!

Several politicians, too, had participated in the Kalolsavam, especially in elocution.

On Tuesday, 3 January, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Veena George wrote a Facebook post about her performance at the school Kalolsavam.

“I came to Kozhikode to participate in official events. The city is bathed in colours for the State School Youth Festival. The noise, lights, and spectators are still in my mind. This awakened a memory of the school youth festival,” she posted.

Inspection on eateries

Kerala Health Minister Veena George. (Facebook)

George was referring to the first prize she had won in mono-act at the Tirur Kalolsavam in 1992. She had enacted the plight of Panchali at the Kaurava’s court after Yudhishthira pawned her while playing a game of dice with Shakuni.

The previous year, then Veena Kuriakose, a student of Mount Bethany English Medium Higher Secondary School at Mylapra in Pathanamthitta, had enacted the rendezvous between Kunthi and Karnan ahead of the Mahabharata battle. Her performance won her the second prize at Kasaragod in 1991.

She also mentioned her contemporaries Manju Warrier and Guinness Pakru (Ajay Kumar) who participated during her period in the school Kalolsavam.