There was a time when theatre was central to the cultural dimension of the society in Kerala. The playwright Thoppil Bhaskara Pillai or Thoppil Bhasi, as he was more popularly known, was an Indian playwright who wrote in Malayalam and his plays had much to do with inspiring revolutionary social changes and building the cultural life and identity of the state of Kerala.
His play Ningalenne Communistaaki (You made me a communist) gave impetus to popularising the Communist Movement in Kerala. The play proved to be groundbreaking in the history of Malayalam theatre.
Bhasi wrote sixteen plays, each more interesting and socially relevant than its predecessor, those that won him many accolades. Associated with the Communist Movement in Kerala — ahead of the party succeeding in forming the first democratically elected government in the world in 1957 — he was a wanted man between 1948 and 1952 with a Rs. 1000 bounty issued on his head by the then government. While in hiding he penned his first one-act play Munnettam (The Advance) under the pseudonym Soman.
Elected twice to the state assembly, he, eventually, ended his political career, driven by his love for theatre, rather the drama, for Bhasi left theatre for cinema, writing over 100 screenplays and directing sixteen films. Bhasi died at the age of 68, in 1992, leaving a huge void in the art world of Kerala.