Dr. Prabha's film Akkitham portrays the life and poetry of Akkitham Achuthan NamboothiriLekshmy Rajeev

“I count this as a blessing, this could be the best thing that could happen to me,” beams 84-year-old Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, referring to a documentary titled Akkitham that depicts his own life and accomplishments.

The 54-minute-long work, produced under the banner of the city-based Creative Creations, is the brainchild of G .Prabha, Professor in Sanskrit and Malayalam and Head of the Department of Oriental languages, Loyola College, Chennai. The film, directed and scripted by Dr. Prabha, is the result of his close association with the accomplished poet for more than 25 years.

Homage to a genius

“There is a lot of visual imagery in Akkitham's poetry and there is great scope for it in the visual media. They are so pictorial that one can visualise them in the mind's eye,” says Dr. Prabha. “Recipient of many prestigious awards including the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, Akkitham is one of the most revered and accomplished poets today; this film is a kind of homage to his genius. He cooperated wholeheartedly in our venture despite his old age and physical discomforts,” adds Dr. Prabha.

The documentary highlights Akkitham's multifaceted personality and his literary and social contributions. We also get glimpses of his style of working, his simple living and his upbringing, which forged the poet in him. Titans such as ONV Kurup and M.T. Vasudevan Nair share their thoughts about Akkitham's poetry. Their quotes, excerpts from Akkitham's poems, complemented with apt visuals, enrich the documentary.

Filmed by V.K. Subhash, Akkitham has music composed by Kaithapram Viswanathan Namboothiri.

“Akitham's poems heralded the beginnings of modernism in Malayalam poetry,” says ONV Kurup.

The documentary starts with a invocatory sloka written by poet Yusuf Ali Kecheri. Excerpts from Akkitham's poems have been recited by poets like V. Madhusoodanan Nair, Kaithapram, Sreeja Unnikrishnan, Praveen and Kumary Bhuvana. The documentary explores the poet's life and his multifaceted personality as a versatile writer and social reformer who tries to free his community from obscurantism. An account of his social activism, along with V.T. Bhattathiripad and E.M.S., highlights the poet's contributions as a reformer.

“Dr. Prabha enthusiastically and dedicatedly followed me for one-and-a-half years to document what you see on the screen for 54 minutes. It is a well-balanced portrayal of my life and poetry,” compliments Akkitham.

“My next plan is to produce a film in Sanskrit, on a social theme. It will hopefully contribute to liberating Sanskrit, which is largely limited to the role of a scriptural language, and used by a minority. The script is ready and I am searching for a producer,” says Dr. Prabha.

At a time when literature, especially poetry, is neglected and ignored in the chaos of the market, one hopes that such films go a long way in restoring a sense of balance.