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Updated: February 6, 2013 21:06 IST

Ode to water conservation

Nita Sathyendran
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Lal Jose standing on the bed of the Nila in the Nalla Naadu, Nalla Vellam ad
The Hindu Lal Jose standing on the bed of the Nila in the Nalla Naadu, Nalla Vellam ad

Director Lal Jose says that water conservation and rainwater harvesting are the need of the hour in a new public service ad by Department of Water Resources, Government of Kerala

If the present situation continues, it looks like it will be a summer of drought in Kerala. Then, it becomes all the more important to conserve water and protect the State’s 44 rivers and innumerable water bodies.

Getting the message of water conservation and rainwater harvesting out there is director Lal Jose, in a new public service advertisement titled ‘Nalla Naadu Nalla Vellam’, made by C-DIT and commissioned by Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU) of the Department of Water Resources, Government of Kerala.

“What will happen if there are no rivers or water bodies? It’s a pertinent question because the future of our fresh water resources is worrying, dire even, what with large scale waste dumping, sand mining, and the likes, all of which are slowly killing the rivers. If we don’t do something about it, we may soon find ourselves without even water to drink. There is thus a need to spread awareness about water conservation and harvesting rainwater, which we are blessed to have in plenty during the monsoons,” says Lal Jose.

“Actually, litterateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair was supposed to star in the ad, had it not been for his ill-health. When C-DIT asked me, I was quite willing because the issue is something close to my heart,” says the director, who is stepping in front of the camera for the first time for an ad. He’s previously starred in cameos in a couple of films. “I always knew that being in front of the camera was not an easy job. But it was an interesting experience, worthy cause to lend time too not least because I got drenched in artificial rain!” adds the director who is presently shooting for Immanuel.

The one-minute ad opens with Lal Jose standing with an umbrella, looking out at the sandy expanse that is now the Nila (also called the Bharatapuzha), the second largest river in the State, after the Periyar. And perhaps no other river in Kerala showcases the need for water conservation than the Nila. “Only during the monsoons is the river truly mighty. These days it has been reduced to something a bit more than a trickle – a forest of reeds, a desert of sand rather than a river,” says Lal Jose, who grew up in Ottappalam on the bank of the Nila.

Close to his heart

“I have an emotional connect with the river. All throughout my childhood and until I left home after college, the banks of the Nila was where I would head out to chill out, to think, to go for picnics, to read, to play Thalapanthu with my friends, to play cards…It is disheartening to see its horrendous condition,” he adds.

As the ad progresses, the director explains the importance of conserving our rivers, all the while pointing out examples from the state of the Nila. As he looks upwards to the heavens in silent prayer, drops of rain fall on him, which soon becomes a torrential downpour. The breeze knocks the umbrella from his hands and it becomes a sort of a bucket to collect the rain. The director smiles at the sight and walks away.

The ad has been directed by Sapnesh Varachal, producer of Sutharya Keralam on Doordarshan. Veteran cinematographer K.G. Jayan has cranked the camera for the ad, which is set to be telecast on the small screen and before film screenings in theatres across the State.

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