Vipin Vijay’s short film Vishaparvam, which explores indigenous practises in medical toxicology, has been selected for the International Film Festival Rotterdam

Young director Vipin Vijay makes it to Rotterdam, Netherlands, once again for its prestigious annual international film festival. This time it’s with his short film Vishaparvam (Venomous Folds), which will be screened in ‘extraterrestrial category’ at the fete that is on till February 2.

The film deals with the traditional practice of Damstra chikitsa, also called Visha chikitsa, Ayurveda’s toxicology branch – the science of poisons. “Visha chikitsa, though a part of traditional medicine, has its own reference, syntax, rhyme and so on. I was intrigued by how it works on the principle of finding the balance between opposing factors, poison and cure. There’s an amazing connect between the mind and body. There’s also a wealth of difference in way the traditional medicine or Dravidian medicine is practised as opposed to the ways of Aryan medicine,” says Vipin.

The idea for the film was born after Vipin met Thrissur-based Ayurveda practitioner Vimala Thampuratti, who specialises in visha chikitsa, as part of a one-hour video essay he was making. “In the film, a traditional toxicologist, a convict, a herpetologist, and a traditional healer (medicine man) ponder deep and read the signs to get closer to the reality of things which are under layer upon layer of images,” adds Vipin.

The film produced by Rajiv Mehrotra for Public Service Broadcasting Trust, New Delhi, had earlier won the main prize at Signes de Nuit, Paris, and had its world premiere in competition at Oberhausen International Film Festival, Germany. The film was also part of the Indian Panorama in the International Film festival of India, Goa, 2013.

Vipin, who debuted as a feature film director with the alternative flick Chitrasutram, is currently working on a documentary on auteur Adoor Gopalakrishnan, commissioned by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. “Titled Feet Upon The Ground, it is not a run of the mill documentary on Adoor that glorifies him. Rather, it’s an exploration of Adoor’s cinematic pre-occupation, of his creativity as an artist,” says Vipin.