The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) was one of the best festivals organized in India in recent times. The selection of films was good. The competitive section consisted of 18 films and among them there were six films made in India: Adoor Gopalakrishnan (Shadow Kill), T.V.Chandran (Lesson One: A Veil), Manish Jha (Mathrubhoomi – A Nation Without Women), Rajiv Vijayaragavan (Margam), Rajath Kapoor (Ragu Romeo) and Satish Menon (Bhavum).
Rajiv Vijayaragavan’s “Margam” (Means) bagged the FIPRESCI Special Mention. This is a story about a young man who in his younger days had joined the radical leftist movement. His friend was killed then, and he was in a confused state of mind. When the movement slowly collapsed, his unfinished task made him feel sad and he became a lonely man. His daughter wants to make him happy and tries all that she could, but in vain. They both decide to go to his ancestral place where he can have his cherished memories kindled. They leave the urban apartment and go to his village where he tells his loving daughter some of the important incidents which happened in his younger days.
The director questions in his narration the very concept of the ‘just society’. The film has politics along with family sentiment, which is beautifully blended in the script. The director has done a neat job of picking the right persons for the roles and the main characters of father and daughter go to veteran actor Nedumudi Venu and the new find Meera Krishna. Both of them have given a matured performance. The dialogues have been used to enhance the film, and music is above average.
“Bhavum” (Emotions of Being) directed by Satish Menon deals in detail with the intricacies of a husband and wife relationship in the present day context. The globalization, consumerism and the influence of media all put together have a great impact on the physical and mental attitude of the couple. In spite of differences both of them love each other but are drifting away in opposite directions. They know about it but are not able to stop it. The main reason is the heroine’s sister who comes to stay in their house. The sister has her own past wherein she is suspected of murdering her own husband. The film is full of emotions and told in a subtle way.
T.V. Chandran’s “Padam onnu: Oru vilapam” (Lesson one: A Wail) is about a 15 years old girl who wants to study but due to her religious custom (Islam) is married to a man who takes the marriage as casually as possible. He thinks that marriage is for getting money, which will enable him go to the Gulf. The director has not dealt it with enough punch to make it an absorbing film.
“Raghu Romeo” by Rajath Kapoor is the off take of ‘Fan Club’. A young man becomes a fan of a TV star. One fine morning he kidnaps the TV star. How he and she feel is the story of the film. The film has all the Bollywood elements to sustain it. But the sad part of it is the loosely knitted script with undue incidents. In spite of all the compromises the director makes, he is not able to get the needed appreciation.
“Mathruboomi” (A Nation Without Women) directed by Manish Jha will certainly disturb viewers minds. The film has won the FIPRESCI prize at Venice, and the other film that has won a FIPRESCI prize at Mumbai is “Shadow Kill” (Nizhalkkuth) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
© FIPRESCI 2003