Kerala is one place that abounds with ‘international’ film festivals. If a film society movement quenched the Malayali’s thirst for world cinema in the 70’s and 80’s, in the new millennium, conventional film society screenings of ‘one-film-a-month’ format became redundant, giving way to ‘film festivals’.
The shift from analog to the digital made this transformation easier and affordable. Now availability of films – especially from Europe and Hollywood, is not a hurdle, as it can be downloaded or bought in easily transferable digital formats. This shift was also one that happened in the realm of film experience too, where communal viewing experience of film society’s projections on big screens gave way to a personal and personalised experience of watching movies at home, on the small screens of television or computer.
Such easiness, accessibility and excess, in turn, gave rise to a different kind of film writing. If earlier, film writing on world cinema was confined to certain ‘classics’ and ‘masters’, the digital era has virtually opened the floodgates, with film and video experimentations from all over the world filling our screens and minds. The new situation demands new kind of writing that keeps track of world cinema and introduces the reader or potential viewer to new films and filmmakers. This book written by film society enthusiast and cineaste Suresh Babu is an earnest attempt is in this direction.
Kazhchayude Bhoopadam is a compilation of writings on world cinema that introduces major contemporary films and filmmakers to the reader. As the author himself admits, this book is not an attempt to analyse the movies critically but to introduce them to readers who are present or potential viewers.
Written in simple and lucid style, the book contains charming descriptions of the story line of the film along with interesting details about each film.
Never clogged with theoretical or ideological jargons, the articles in this book are written from the point of view of a film lover, never missing the central thematic concerns or highlights of the films. Through these descriptions emerge a very avid film viewer and cineaste turned writer, who is always open to all kinds of films and filmmaking practices.
The author’s humanist concerns, anti-war sentiments are evident from his writings on Israeli, Arab, Palestinian and European films. Indian films such as Amu and Parzania, or Pakistani films such as Khamosh Pani, Ramchand Pakistani so on are also featured here for their thematic parallels.
Interestingly, in this global republic of cinema, which is diverse and plural, there are certain common concerns that the author pursues, along with his passion for the art of cinema and the charms of storytelling. Most of the films discussed here deal with social and political issues of universal import: the ravages of war and communal violence, and their aftermath in terms of human destinies and traumas; diaspora and displacement and about one’s longing for homeland and alienation from present space and time; political exiles of various kinds, and autocratic regimes that make life and love impossible.
In tune with our film society culture and preferences, Hollywood is a rarity here; the book gives more attention to films from non-European countries and regions like Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Colombia, Russia and Korea.
This is a book that evokes and sustains one’s interest in contemporary world cinema, leading the reader’s attention to the major narrative and thematic concerns that animate the best of minds in the medium today.
Kazhchayude Bhoopadam, T.Suresh Babu, Mathrubhumi Books, Rs. 150