Girish Kasaravalli’s film on Adoor Gopalakrishnan

thanks to Saurabh…

BADAMI HOUSE: Girish Kasaravalli’s film on Adoor Gopalakrishnan, screened here last weekend, talks about the celebrated director’s themes and avoids rigid chronology.

Images/ Reflections, as the film is called, is 88 minutes long and is divided into five parts, each named after a major Adoor film — Kathapurushan (Man of the story), Mukhamukham (Face to face), Swayamvaram (One’s own choice) and Anantharam (Monologue), with bits of the films being inter-woven into the narrative.

Each chapter brings the entry of a character from Adoor’s films. Kasaravalli synchronises these with the life of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award-winning Malayalam director.

The film features critics and directors of the parallel cinema movement, such as Mrinal Sen and Shyam Benegal, talking about Adoor’s art. Sen says in the film, “Adoor Gopalakrishnan excels not only content-wise but also through his artistic skills.”

Kasaravalli has also interspersed the film with interviews with four women Adoor is close to. This documentary offers interesting details for both admirers of Adoor and those waiting to be introduced to his world.

Kasaravalli and Adoor discuss on screen the latter’s political philosophy and the historical relevance of his films. According to Kasaravalli, Adoor’s Gandhian ideals are evident in his works, rooted firmly in the politics of Kerala. Adoor says he connects with himself through the characters he has built in his films.

Images/Reflections is produced by the Films Division, and when the project was proposed last year, the buzz was that Adoor agreed to it only because it was being helmed by Kasaravalli.

The film was screened by the Kochi Biennale Foundation in April and has also been selected for the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, starting on June 26.”


2 Responses to “Girish Kasaravalli’s film on Adoor Gopalakrishnan”

  1. Cant wait!!


  2. Superb piece on the documentary-

    “…Kasaravalli, unlike some other documentarians of Gopalakrishnan, has been perceptive enough to pick the most important segments of his cinema — and the most fascinating scenes or sequences from them are highlighted. Beginning with a visually stunning shot of Gopalakrishnan lighting an oil lamp in the evening (This is the first light that is lit at dusk, and the people of the house stand around it with folded palms in silent prayer, he remarks. …”

    “…In Naalu Pennungal, for instance, he documents the impressions of four women, Aswati, actress Lalitha and so on. Making One’s Own Choices details Gopalakrishnan’s unique — and fiercely independent — tastes in background score and music.
    Lalitha tells Kasaravalli that Gopalakrishnan seldom shared the story or script with his actors — afraid that such revelation might encourage them to interpret and enact the characters in a way that could be different from or detrimental to Adoor’s style and substance.

    Some of Gopalakrishnan’s own observations in the documentary remain etched memory. Referring to Vidheyan or Servile (perhaps his only overly violent movie) with superstar Mammootty (portraying a brutish tax collector), Gopalakrishnan tells Kasaravalli that this film is a great illustration of how a human mind can be colonised, how a nation can be colonised, how a power can turn absolute and evil. Mammootty’s Bhaskara Patelar seems and sound almost devilish in his treatment of Thommi, a migrant labourer who comes with his wife to Kerala in search of work.
    The same Gopalakrishnan can give us a work as mild as Nizhalkkuthu (2002) — the contrast admirably caught on camera by Kasaravalli. I do not think that there has been another work anywhere in the world that speaks about the guilt of a hangman. In Nizhalkkuthu, Adoor’s man of the gallows, so to say, is a frail and docile human being living with his family on the outskirts of a village in the erstwhile State of Travancore in pre-Independent India. When he is ordered by the ruler to execute a convicted murderer, the hangman is devastated, and tries his best to wriggle out of being a part of the State-sponsored killing. Gopalakrishnan infuses into this narrative Gandhian ideology of non-violence, and we see Kasaravalli capturing those magic moments through the spin of a charka or when the rope for the hanging is being woven.

    Gopalakrishnan rues that Indians have moved away from Gandhian ideals and philosophy. “Development does not mean that you have to be anti-Gandhi,” he quips. A staunch believer in Gandhi, Gopalakrishnan began to work the chakra in his school days, and to wear Khadi even as a boy. It was his love for Gandhi that took him to the Gandhigram University, near Madurai, later in life. …”


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