Sajin Baabu’s debut feature film Asthamayam Vare explores an individual’s relationship with religion juxtaposed with complexities of human personality.

Asthamayam Vare is Sajin Baabu’s maiden film. Testing the waters with short films before venturing into feature films the young director has taken time to coalesce his ideas. Devoting an extended gestation period on the script, the filmmaker experienced the rough and tumble of anyone trying to cut his teeth in the medium. The crisis of the individual caught in the vortex of theology and the inner quest of man for answers to the umpteen conflicts that stalk him form the warp and woof of his film. A regular at film festivals and film society screenings, his films have received awards in campus festivals and it was a proud moment for him when his short film Music Of The Broom was selected for the competition category in the Mumbai International Film Festival and Ladakh International Film Festivals in 2012. Sajin Baabu speaks on Asthamayam Vare. Excerpts…

Asthamayam Vare rests on the presence of religion in an individual and at the same time is very close to the experiences of contemporary youth. How did you bind the two in the film?

A film of this kind has been playing in my mind for quite some time. I was not intending to pitch it for any sort of labelling such as ‘art film’ or ‘popular film’. St Francis of Assisi’s philosophy has always appealed to me. I went through Christian theology in great depth to understand it better. The exploration did not end with just that. Further, I found myself seeking answers to a lot of questions that plagued me from time to time. The film has drawn a great deal from Christian and Greek philosophy and the symbolism is a major presence here. I have not gone for a linear storytelling method here. Terence Malick’s Tree of Life impacted me considerably and has been an inspiration.

The cast for the film seem to be first-timers.

Sanal Aman, who is in the lead, is an alumnus of the National School of Drama. I remember him seeking clarity on so many things after he had gone through the script initially. All others featured in the film are newbies too. Joseph Mappilachery who donned the role of the father is a dubbing artiste.

How did filmmaking happen for you?

Making films have been on my mind. The exposure that I got through IFFK and other film screenings has helped a great deal. Kariyila Kazhchakal (2005) was the first documentary I made followed up with Are You Hiding In You, Kadalariyathe, Enkilum, A River Flowing Deep And Wide and the most recent one, Music Of The Broom.

I was keen that the film I make should communicate my ideas and that I should not have to compromise on content, production and so on because of the choices I make. The script was co-written with Jose John who was on the same page when it came to ideation. Karthik Muthukumar handled the camera and delivered on the lines I expected. We have used the 16:9 format here. For a debut film it is difficult to get a producer, here again, M. P. Sheeja and L. Geetha have co-produced the film with me. Everyday happenings have been looped with the complexities of the human personality to form the core of Asthamayam Vare.