Razi's The Third Eye of Resistance tells C. Saratchandran's story

The Third Eye of Resistance that screens at Kalabhavan on April 1, is a vibrant tribute to Kerala's one-man movement in documentary filmmaking, C. Saratchandran. The film is art director and graphic designer Razi's debut in documentary, and is notable for its creative break from realistic visual narration. Razi, who knew Saratchandran for “only 10 years,” uses around 50 of the 70 interviews he shot to tell Sarat's story, or rather, stories about Sarat. Oddly, not one of them mentions that Sarat died on March 31, 2010.

The film revisits the main locations for Sarat's documentaries of historic peoples' struggles in Kerala such as Chaliyar: The Final Struggle (1999); Kanavu (The Dream, 2001), Bitter Dreams (2003), Evicted from Justice (2003), Only An Axe Away (2005), Thousand Days and a Dream (2006), and Spring to Come (Kathikudam). It includes footage from Sarat's little-known works such as his music album, Kumkumarchana.

Based on interviews

Razi avoided the typical omniscient commentary-based documentary that would tell the “truth” about Sarat. Instead, the film is built entirely around interview fragments (including Sarat's) that are imaginatively visualised through animation techniques, fictional sequences, and a rich variety of special effects in about 90 shots that lure the viewer through the105 minutes. Sarat's own video footage was re-edited and blended seamlessly with the film so that it was no longer about “my film and his films.” Editor Seena Panoli, who also sieved the Sarat footage, has made her mark with the film.

“Sarat's politics was his quality as a human being,” says Razi. Through Plachimada, Chaliyar, Silent Valley, Muthanga, and Kathikudam, Sarat kept his camera's pulse on the people and the earth devastated by the dominant engines of development. It was not Sarat the activist alone who drew Razi; it was the selfless passion with which Sarat the human being lived his life for cinema, for the rights of nature and earth, for a different dream of humanity.

The film's motif is the journey. If Sarat created cinema through his journeys and propagated Indian and world film classics travelling tirelessly through Kerala's villages and small towns, Razi himself returned to Sarat's locations, and rediscovered in his footage the shots that Sarat had earlier captured. It's that “conundrum,” as Razi puts it, the sense of a revolving space without resolutions, that runs through the film, preventing it from being a linear biography.

Razi is a Film and Television Institute of India graduate who has worked as art director for eight feature films in Malayalam and Hindi, as well as for short films, television shows, documentaries and music videos. He runs Media Mill Studio in the city with long-time film school friend, editor B. Ajithkumar. The studio grows peace and wild green in the centre of the city providing a reticent working space preferred by the two that is nevertheless a welcoming hub for many film travellers.