Kasaravalli documentary on Adoor

thanks to Saurabh..

After making a film on U.R. Ananthamurthy, which won the Special Jury Prize at the National Awards recently, noted film-maker Girish Kasaravalli is now making a documentary on Adoor Gopalakrishnan, an icon of Indian parallel cinema.

Mr. Kasaravalli, who is making the film for the Films Division, has just finished the first schedule and planning to complete the 60-minute film by the year-end. He, along with Mr. Gopalakrishnan, visited locations where his famed films such as Elippathayam, Kathapurushan and Naalu Pennungal were made.

Interestingly, the production came to Mr. Kasaravalli at the insistence of the subject of the film. The Films Division proposed making the film on Mr. Gopalakrishnan under a programme to celebrate the centenary of Indian cinema, but the maestro accepted the offer with a rider only Mr. Kasaravalli should make it.

Mr. Kasaravalli is fascinated by Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s cinematic sensibility, language, and austerity of images, which he describes as the “Gandhian way of making a film.” He also notes that Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s cinematic language is strong, and works both in real and metaphorical levels.

He has done a lot of research before venturing into this project. Mr. Kasaravalli keenly watched documentaries made on Mr. Gopalakrishnan by Rajiv Mehrotra, K.K. Chandran, Prasanna Ramaswamy and Vipin Vijay, besides reading books such as A Door to Adoor (edited by Lalith Mohan Joshi and C.S. Venkiteswaran) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan — A life in cinema (by Gautaman Bhaskaran). “I have spoken to many film-makers and read interviews on Mr. Gopalakrishnan,” he said.

Mr. Kasaravalli said the focus and style of this film would be different from that of the one on Prof. Ananthamurthy. “I have staged a few things in Ananthamurthy’s film, but I won’t do that in Adoor’s film,” he said.

The focus will not be biographical, but on the thinking process of the film-maker and his search for completeness. “It is also an attempt to trace how his thought process worked in the films he had made so far,” he said.

Since he himself is a film-maker, did Mr. Kasaravalli found it challenging to make a documentary on another film-maker? “I am presenting Adoor as I see him. I do not believe in the concept of being objective. So it is my subjective perception of the film-maker. It is a creative interpretation of reality,” said Mr. Kasaravalli.


7 Responses to “Kasaravalli documentary on Adoor”

  1. Interesting!


    • Satyam: Have you seen any Kasaravalli? The only one I have seen is Mane (which was dubbed in Hindi as Ek Ghar- stars Naseer, Deepti Naval and Rohini Hattangadi) and I found it very impressive- the film comes as a scathing critique of the urban India (it is set in the early 1990’s and is a ‘response’ to the advent of liberalisation and opening up of markets in India), but what makes the film truly unique is that it wraps this critique around a very innocuous looking human story of a couple. And among the Indian films I have seen, one would would be hard pressed to find a film where the sound-design is as impressively used as it is here. NFDC, for once, have made sure that the transfer here is fantastic atleast of the Hindi dub (all characters have dubbed for themselves BTW)

      On a separate note, I revisited Reshma aur Shera- I think it held really well on rewatch and has some stunning shots of the desert etc. And Bachchan definitely makes an impression in a small role- I found it interesting that even during such an early stage in his career, he got a very important role (one just has to compare his role with that of Vinod Khanna’s and one can understand their relative standing vis-a-vis each other).


    • Kasarvalli has other outstanding ones to his name namely GULABI TALKIES (communal tension through the mode of cinema0, DWEEPA (a tale of displacement of natives vis-a-vis dams). His path-breaking ones still remain GHATASHRADDHA [ remade by NFDC in Hindi with Nana Patekar and an effective Manohar Singh), based on U.R. Ananthmurthy’s superb novel and TABARANA KATHE, about Indian bureaucracy, starring Charu Haasan, Kamal Haasan’s brother, in that one seminal role [he won national award for that role] that remains the hallmark of his limited career.

      Each one of the above is a gem in its own right. He is a master that works within a minimalist framework and delivers the rightful impact..


  2. The sad thing about this is that unless any of us are NFDC or national award jury members, I doubt we’ll ever get a chance to see it! Even many of these two director’s classic work is scarcely available on the public domain


  3. An auteur’s reflections on a great contemporary-


    “…The documentary, Images/Reflections ( Bhimbh/Prathibhimbh ), was screened at the Press Club hall here on Saturday. It is not the kind of work which takes one through the filmmaker’s career in a Wikipedia-like chronology and bombards one with facts, factoids and myths. In Kasaravalli’s words, these are his reflections on Adoor’s images. It is a series of recollections and reflections which at times tries to look into where Adoor’s imageries originated, why they were so shaped and later on, how prescient he was in making those films back then.


    The film is divided into episodes, much like Adoor’s later films. One of the fascinating sections is ‘Naalu Pennungal’, where four women, including his daughter and cousin, share insights on him. His daughter, for instance, tells us that he likes Aparajito the most from Ray’s ‘Apu trilogy’, for it reminds of an image from his personal life, which he later uses in one of his own films.

    Kasaravalli takes us back to some of the locations of his films, like Adoor’s ancestral house where Kathapurushan was shot. One sees Adoor walking up the stairs of that house and the frame promptly cutting to a scene from Kathapurushan where the young Meenakshi is seen at the top of the stairs, running to wake up Kunjunni. Shorn from the context of the films to which they belong to, the sequences when seen in the documentary acquire quite a different meaning.

    Kasaravalli says that he would not have been interested in making a film on someone who has trodden the same path as his.


    So, in the film, he touches upon those very differences, especially in the way Adoor composes a frame. “Adoor excludes things and keeps the frame minimalistic, whereas I include things in making the frame,” as he says.

    It also explores the pace and open-endedness of Adoor’s films, which happens to be the political statement of a filmmaker who otherwise shies away from any overt”


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