"Forever Flows" Celebrating the Golden Jubilee Year of Kerala By Ranjanee Rathnavibushana

in 11st Kerala International Film Festival

by Ranjanee Ratnavibhushana

The 11th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) concluded at Hiruvanthapuram, India on 15th December 2006. The awards were announced at the closing function held at the Nishagandhi open auditorium, with a special regard to the phenomenal response from the viewers. The IFFK has no parallel — it has proved itself one of the leading film festivals of India with a large number of film enthusiasts. According to the Chalachitra Academy Chairman’s report, 220 films in 13 sections were screened in eight theatres. As many as 6,101 delegates, both native and foreign, participated in the festival with 166 guests among them.

Organisers had selected the films with the utmost care and the retrospectives, world cinema section and other packages were of a unique nature. It was more academic and the packages were a judicious mix of the old as well as the contemporary. Those who flock to the festival try to see and understand new innovations and structures in world cinema. Packages of Glauber Rocha, Louis Malle, Albert Dupontel, Sven Nykvist, Abderrahmane Sissako and Adoor Gopalakrishnan were the most noteworthy in the festival with screenings of animation films, vibrant open forums and seminars among the other highlights.

Fourteen films from Asia, Africa and Latin America competed for big awards. Of the sub-continent in competition, four of them were Tamil, Malayalam, Bangladesh and Sri Lankan. The Bangladesh film Forever Flows (Nirontor), directed by Abu Sayeed, won the FIPRESCI award and it also shared the Golden Crow Pheasant Award (a prize known also as Suvarna Chakoram) with the Turkish film Angel’s Fall (Melegin düsüsü), directed by Semit Kaplanoglu.

Forever Flows is based on Humayan Ahmed’s much acclaimed novel “Janam”. It portrays the struggle of Tithi, a young girl who comes of a lower middle class family and takes up the job of a call girl (sex worker) and in so doing sacrifices her private life for the sake of her family. Tithi’s fate does not travel through major metamorphosis, as it rarely does for ill-fated girls like her. In the course of time, the economic condition of the family changes but Tithi slowly becomes very much aloof and indifferent to everything while she takes refuge in solitude.

From childhood, Bengali woman folk have to grow up struggling against various types of sexual provocation and harassment. This is not only true for Bengalis but is evident in many other parts of the world. This problem is acute in the underdeveloped countries where different kinds of sexual provocation and harassment make various psychological disorders among the women folk. The protagonist Tithi, in Abu’s film, took the profession of a call girl only to support her family. Forever Flows is not only her story as a call girl, but it depicts the sexual trauma the women folk face since adolescence. Experiences as a call girl and memories of sexual provocation and harassment of a younger time haunt Tithi. All these experiences developed a hatred against the male and made her reach such a psychological state that even her mother’s loving touch give her a feeling of a male’s ugly wishes. Forever Flows is not just a portrayal of prostitution because of economic reality but of the sexual attitudes towards women in a male a dominated society.

What’s offered by Abu Sayeed, his direction and screenplay, is a universal picture of the plagues of insecurity and poverty, made realistic by believable and intimate characters and a smooth, natural plot.