Directors of five feature films in the Indian Panorama Section of IFFI- 2018 interacted with the media today. Jayraj, Director of Malayalam film Bhayanakam; Kamakhya Narayan Singh, Director of Bhor; Nipun Dharmadhikari, Director of Marathi film Dhappa; Srijit Mukherji, director of Bengali film Uma and Priya Krisnaswamy, Director of Tamil movie ‘Baram’ were of the opinion that alternate cinema has great social transformative potential and that it is really a good thing that alternate cinema is getting good OTT platforms.
Bhayanakam is an adaptation of two chapters from Takazhy Sivasankara Pillai’s epic Malayalam novel called ‘Coir’ and has won three awards for Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography at the 2017 National Film Awards.
In 1999, Jayaraj started his Navarasa film series with Karunam, followed by Shantham (2001). Shantham won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. Bhayanakam released in 2017 is Part 6 of Navarasa series. Navarasa series is nine-film series project. The story is set in Kuttanad and its backwaters in central Kerala during the World War II and revolves around a war-injured postman, who delivers money orders at homes of those who have joined the army. Though Kuttanadu lost lot of soldiers in the war, yet it is not part of the history. Bhayanakam tries to narrate those events from telegram and money-orders delivered by one postman.
Jayaraj said “Without showing any war sequences, gun fight or soldiers, the story of world war is depicted here through the mental trauma of a handicapped Postman. It was very difficult to re-create Kuttanadu of that era but we worked hard for it. I have been trying to do this movie for the last 30 years, and I am happy that I got the opportunity to do this now”. He also added that nowadays, there is no market for panorama cinema. “If we have a digital platform like Netflix and support from DFF for such panorama films, it would help”.
Main protagonist of the movie lead actor Renji Panicker said that his transformation from script writer/director to actor was by sheer accident.
‘Bhor is a film about Bihar’s Mushahar community and revolves around the plight of a poor girl Budhni, struggling to get her basic right for education and sanitation. The film was also watched by Goa’s Hon’ble Governor Smt. Mrudal Sinha yesterday at IFFI-2018.
Director Kamakhya Narayan Singh said “Since childhood, I was fascinated by Musahar community, who live in planes near the cities, are simple, poor people but do not cry about their poverty. They are happy and honest people. We wanted to make a honest story on them. The condition of Musahars has improved a bit now. But I wanted to show how these people lived when I was a child. Since Bollywood actors could not spare 2 months from their schedule, we chose to take new faces who lived, worked with them for two months to understand their situation. We used real settings by using clothes actually used by local Musahars. The recording of the music was also done live after performing in the villages”.
Marathi film Dhappa portrays how children come to terms with the stark contrast between the idealistic lessons taught in school and the harsh realities of the world outside.
The Direction & screenplay of ‘Dhappa’, a Marathi film is done by Nipun Dharmadhikari. In the movie, a children’s play during Ganesh Chaturthi Festival on environment using messages of Jesus Christ and Sant Tukaram turns into a flash-point between elders & children. Dhappa has won the National Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration this year. The film is going to be screened in theatres today. Throwing light on his movie’s idea of national integration, Nipun Dharmadhikri said, Pune which has great tradition of Ganesh festival is of late witnessing emergence of gated communities which have become separate worlds in themselves.
I would rather celebrate kindness of one percent people than talking about cynicism of ninety nine percent, said Srijit Mukherji, Director of Bengali film Uma, which is story of a young girl fighting a terminal disease and her father struggling to make his daughter’s dreams come true helped by a director whose past is haunting him. Srijit Mukherji is a popular actor, screenwriter and Director. His fifth film Jaatishwar won 4 national awards at India’s 61st National Film Awards (2014). He has won the National Film Award for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for his sixth film Chotushkone at India’s 62nd National Film Awards.
Sharing his experience about the film, Srijit said his inspiration came from a news report called “The Boy Who Moved Christmas” where the townsfolk orchestrated a Christmas for the terminally ill boy. He decided it to adapt the story to the realities of his hometown Bengal, replacing Christmas with Durga Puja.
Baaram which means burden, is a Tamil film directed & produced by Priya Krisnaswamy, which revolves around a widowed night watchman, Karuppaswamy and his sons during his last days, when he is subjected to the practice of Thalaikoothal. A veteran film-editor ,Priya Krishnaswamy made her directorial debut with Gangoobai produced by NFDC in 2013.
“When I read news about elderly infirm parents being despatched with a cold head-bath (‘Thalaikoothal’) and getting killed, and heard this had social sanction, I could not believe it; until I saw Satyameva Jayate by Aamir Khan who foregrounded the issue.”
Krishnaswamy said she then decided to do a documentary on this. She found out there were 26 documented ways to kill the elderly and that this practice is prevalent not only in south India but also in north India as well as in other countries.
“Baaram is based on true events; I find it incredible, it is all about humanity. As a mother, daughter and grand-daughter, I cannot believe that we have lost out on our humanity. When we lose out on these values, we lose out on kindness, gentleness. It had social sanction, there were traditional killers and it was being done for free. What began as tradition and was for free is now a business with brokers and commissions.”
When we talk about cultural messaging, this is the country that wants sons, yet the ones who murder the elderly are the sons themselves. We don’t have social infrastructure to take care of the elderly. This systemic failure has infiltrated the family as well. The breakdown of the joint family is a problem that I want to showcase through this movie. When we lose out on a generation before us, we lose out on kindness, wisdom, culture, cuisine. Hence I wanted to tell a story about this, said Krishnaswamy.