A story within a story

A magnum opus

A story within a story

About three years back, Malayalam director Hari Kumar read about an incident in Kerala that highlighted the communal angst that clings to the country. An old Muslim man needed a kidney but no one in his family was willing to donate.

Instead, a Namboodiri man stepped up. This sparked a conflict — a Muslim can’t possibly take, well, anything from a Hindu — and a few years down the line, ‘Kaattum Mazhayum’ (Wind and Rain) was made.

However, this incident is just the base for the film. “I touch upon many more issues in the film,” explains Hari Kumar, who was at the eighth annual Bengaluru International Film Festival recently. The story is divided into two parts, two parallel stories that come together in the end. In the first part, Valayil Maliyekkal Abdul Rehman Haji, a rich businessman, develops cirrhosis and is in search of a donor.

Although he is 70 years old, he has a thirst to live since he has an orphaned grandchild to look after. “His sons and daughters aren’t willing to donate a portion of their liver as there are some family conflicts, which pushes him to publish an advertisement in the newspaper.” In his desperation, he turns this into a business transaction where he is willing to pay Rs 30 lakh to the donor.

In the second half of the story, a Namboodiri Brahmin called Jayanarayanan finds himself in neck-deep debt. The debt has been passed on to him from his father, who commits suicide because of it. A priest by profession, he has to look after his mother and sisters in addition to paying  the money off. If he doesn’t come up with the money soon, his ancestral land will be ceased and the family will become homeless.”

He finds himself working multiple jobs to supplement his income as a priest. Although an educated man, he finds himself in a situation where he has to take on a wife as well. “This is when he sees Hajiyar’s advertisement and makes a visit to Kozhikode from Palakkad.”

But as a ‘noble’ gesture, Jayanarayanan offers to take only Rs 26 lakh, his loan amount, in exchange for a portion of his liver. Hari Kumar, as promised, has touched on many issues that are relevant to the current times. As a conclusion, the director, who has 15 films to his credit, talks of conversions and what people are willing to do for money, especially when in debt.

Calling this “a perfect film”, he says that this is his magnum opus and he has not only worked hard on the script but also on the technical side of it — pre and post production. Emphasising on the role of a director, he adds, “The director is the most important person in the making of a film.”

But the duties of having such a title are many — “A good director will not only know his script and the technical aspects (cinematography, editing, photography etc) of the film, but will also be well-versed in various other subjects.” This extra knowledge allows for the bettering of the creative process, explains Hari Kumar.

Through the years, he has noticed a change in the Malayalam film industry, in particular, the independent cinema. “Last year, 80 directors made their debut in Malayalam, and they are coming out with new ideas everyday.” Talking about his inspirations, he says that in Indian cinema, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen are his favourites, while the craft of Akira Kurosawa has always amazed him.

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