Poetry in every frame

Cinematic revelations

Poetry in every frame

People thought I have stopped making films. That’s the reason I have named this film Pinneyum (Once Again),” says acclaimed filmmaker and Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement awardee Adoor Gopalakrishnan in jest about his forthcoming film.

Debuting in 1971 with his feature film, Swayamvaram, which won National Awards in categories including best film, best director, best cameraman and best actress, Adoor’s last film was Oru Pennum Randaanum, in 2008. “I am slow, and I take my time to write scripts. In my 50-year-old career as a filmmaker, I have just made 12 feature films, which roughly means that I have come out with just one film every four years,” recalls the director, who also has to his credit 30 short films and documentaries.

Pinneyum, which stars Malayalam actors Kavya Madhavan and Dileep in the lead, also has Marathi actor Subodh Bhave, known for his stellar performance in the Marathi biopic, Balgandharva, based on the life of singer-stage actor Narayanrao Rajhans. Bhave is also the director of Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, one of the highest-grossing Marathi films of 2015. About casting Bhave, Adoor explains, “I came across his picture published in a magazine and thought he was apt for my film. It’s only when I called my friend Uma Da Cunha (veteran film curator and casting director) did I realise his body of work. I immediately called him up and signed him.”

Pinneyum comes eight years after the release of Oru Pennum Randaanum, and marks two firsts in the ace filmmaker’s career. Apart from being his maiden digitally-made film, it is also Adoor’s first film to be released outside Kerala, in all metros and major cinemas with English subtitles. “I was apprehensive about going digital, but having worked with the technology now, I can say that this is a friendly medium. One is able to edit the film while the filmmaking is in progress. Earlier, it would take me three months to edit the films, but Pinneyum was edited within 10 days,” says the 75-year-old filmmaker.

Adoor lost his wife Sunanda to cancer last September, and now spends most of his time with  his daughter, an IPS officer stationed in Mumbai. When asked what Pinneyum was all about, the filmmaker went on to explain, “It’s about human relationships, crime, family, love, the human craving for material wealth, while basic human values are being sacrificed.”

As a director who oversees every minute detail in his films, Adoor is highly critical of censorship. He says, “Censorship has no place in a democracy. Censorship works only in dictatorships. I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do and what not to do. It is high time we scrap the entire process.”

The director also abhors piracy. Advocating severe punishment for the perpetrators, Adoor says due to lack of stringent punishment, people are leaking new films on the internet even before their official release. “I do not know what pleasure they derive from such activities,” he observes.

The veteran filmmaker, who has served as a member of jury of international film festivals in Venice, Shanghai and Singapore, is highly critical of the way the International Film Festival of India is organised. “Ministers and bureaucrats, who are not even film lovers in the first place, wield authority. I remember attending one such festival where the opening ceremony was delayed by three hours as the chief guest, a Bollywood star, arrived late. The festivals abroad are organised by the local municipal bodies or counties, and they limit their roles to funding the event, which isn’t the case in India,” he says, going on to add that festivals like Cannes, Venice or Berlin generally refuse entries to Indian films because, the Indian Government is unwilling to host the customary tea ceremony for guests.

Bemoaning the lack of awareness in the West about Indian regional films, Adoor says the West considers Bollywood as representative of Indian films. “I had the opportunity to visit the Chicago University, where I came across many who had done their dissertation on Bollywood films. I was appalled by their ignorance about Indian regional films,” says the man, who has won the International Film Critics Prize six times in a row for Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Mathilukal, Vidheyan, Kathapurushan and Nizhalkkuthu.

An essayist, who has to his credit a collection of essays in Cinemayude Lokam (The World of Cinema), which received the National Award for the best book on cinema in 1984, Adoor considers Bimal Roy’s Madhumati as one of the best Hindi films, and dwelling on Bollywood says, “Lot many Hindi films are being made but they are not Bollywood films. The latter is a genre in itself.”

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