Binuraj Kalapeedhom's ‘Namboodiri — Varayude Kulapathy' is an ode to Artist Namboodiri.
Everyone is familiar with Artist Namboodiri's (K.M. Vasudevan Namboothiri) illustrations, whether it is a little boy with wonder in his eyes, looking up, women with prominent bosoms or simply landscapes, of temples or streets. But we have never seen them spring to life and do a jig, as in the credits of ‘Namboodiri — Varayude Kulapathy,' the documentary on Namboodiri, directed by Binuraj Kalapeedhom, under the banner of Ask Movies.
These graphics, done by Ajoy Kumar D., lead you into the life and times of thespian Namboodiri, who is as busy at age 86 as he was when he drew all over the walls of Karuvattu Mana in Ponnani, as a child. The winner of Raja Ravi Varma Award and an artist who has, throughout his life, engaged with art and art alone, and lived by it, Namboodiri wields the brush, sketch pencil, chisel or the hammer (for metal reliefs) with equal ease.
Travelling with Namboodiri
These aspects are brought to the viewer in descriptive visuals rather than a narrative style, so that Binuraj takes us along with Namboodiri to the locales that made him, his birthplace, and the Shukapuram temple near his house which had sculptures that influenced Namboodiri deeply. “I had this urge to draw and mould sculptures after seeing these,” says Namboodiri.
In the initial part of the 44-minute documentary, we see a child learning vedas, trying his hand at sculpture and drawing on the walls, all in black and white.
His guru, K.C.S. Panikkar, and life at the Art School in Chennai, which shaped his life into this direction, Cholamandalam, his innings at a Malayalam weekly, where he drew illustrations for the weekly for a long time, association with M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Aravindan are all brought back to us. (He did art direction for Aravindan's ‘Utharayanam' and won a State award for it). M.V. Devan and M.T. speak about Namboodiri. Apart from Ponnani, actual locations in Kozhikode, Kollam, Chennai and Kochi were used.
Tracing Namboodiri’s life
Some footage has been kept aside for his family and friends too, so that we get a fair idea of Namboodiri from childhood to his eighties. He has so positive an attitude and retirement seems to be just nowhere in sight. Namboodiri wears colourful shirts in the documentary, and Binuraj says he always asked whether the shots were close ups, full or ‘above the waist' to be prepared for it. “When I felt that a shot was not satisfactory, he would sense it and ask whether a retake was needed. It was such a pleasure and learning process, shooting him,” says Binuraj, who spent more than two years on this project, produced by Shafeer Abbas.
It is being readied to be sent to several film festivals. Yesudas sings, with music by Malkoms.
This is Binuraj's fourth documentary. The others were on M.K. Sanoo, former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer and the Marthoma Cathedral at Mulanthuruthy. He was art director of K.S. Prasad's ‘Comediyum, Mimicsum Pinne Njanum' and won the award for the art direction of it six years ago. His next project is a music-based feature film to be shot at Tanjavur and on the locations where ‘Malgudi Days' were shot, says Binuraj.