Athe Karanathal, a short film by Jeevaj Raveendran, has ignited intense debates on YouTube. The film addresses domestic abuse

A girl stands on a desolate bridge staring into the greyish-green depths of the ocean. She is dithering at the prospect of her imminent suicide. Her sobs mingle with the muted roar of the waves. A vendor selling peanuts is observing her from a distance. The conversation that ensues between the two characters tells a shocking tale of domestic abuse.

Debate

The 15-minute film, Athe Karanathal, has sparked off intense debates on YouTube. The potent visuals, unambiguous dialogue and professional treatment of the subject attracted fair attention from the mainstream film industry too. The 22-year-old director of the film, Jeevaj Raveendran, says he felt that the story had to be told. “It is important to understand what is happening around us today. Everyday, the newspapers carry stories of violation. Women are not safe even in their own homes. Why should we not tell the story, even if it is an extremely uncomfortable one?” he asks.

From Azhiyoor in Kozhikode district, Jeevaj has had no formal background in filmmaking. But he already has five noteworthy short-films to his credit.

The student of multimedia says his only connection with films is the passion he nurtures for photography, writing and films. When he gets a break from his filmmaking pursuits, he gives classes to multimedia trainees.

The feed back on Athe Karanathal has been extremely encouraging, he says. Released this February, the film has already been screened in several colleges in and outside the State and on television channels, too.

The open-ended climax evoked an overwhelming response from viewers in the social media. “We got about five different inferences from viewers. That was the intention. We did not want to draw conclusions for them. People’s perceptions differ and the idea was to leave it to the viewer,” says Jeevaj. The story is by Jeevaj himself and the script and dialogues by Deepu Pradeep. The cinematography, using a still camera (7D mark), is by Vishnu Sarma.

Jeevaj believes that one does not require a “big canvas” to tell a convincing story. For instance, Athe Karanathal was shot entirely on the bridge at the Thalassery beach.

His earlier work, Patent, a four-minute film, which is a take on existentialism told through ants, was well received. Jeevan won the award for best direction and cinematography from the Mattannur Jaya Kerala Nataka Academy.

Unique attempt

Another of his works, Still Alive, is a unique attempt at ‘Stop-Motion’ film making. Jeevaj considers it one of his best works—a love story narrated through two pairs of shoes. He used 1,800 photographs from a collection of over 3,000 to make the film. An animation technique (which makes a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own), Stop-Motion is extremely popular in the West. It is also done for ad films. Shot within eight days using an ordinary tripod, the film was done completely outdoor and not within a studio, Jeevaj says. It won him a special jury citation in the Fokana Film Festival, USA, 2012, and the best director in the “student filmmakers of India” category.

Jeevaj believes in team work and gives credit to his team. Jeevaj and his team members who worked together for Athe Karanathal call themselves ‘Orange Balloons’.

His dream is to make a full-length feature film, but Jeevaj is aware of the years of practice and tact one needs to survive in the industry. “There is still a lot to learn,” he says. He hopes to be able to work with directors before doing a project of his own. Meanwhile, short films will keep coming. “There is never a dearth of ideas.”