An accidental brush with making short films has changed the course of Emmanuvel N. K.'s life

Does everything happen for a reason or is life just a series of accidents? Emmanuvel N. K. is not sure. The whole tapestry of events in his life, so far, simply kept happening. But he is certain of one thing. Making short films, which has grown into a burning passion, was never planned.

Till now this young BFA student of Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, Kalady, was flitting from one interest to the other. Before he joined for his graduation in Fine Arts, Emmanuvel was trained in industrial trades at ITC, Perumbavoor. He also spent a lot of time listening to music and even trying his hand at composing.

“I used to sketch and paint well during schooldays. I won a lot of prizes too. That is how I decided to enrol for BFA. Nothing was planned, nor did anyone advise me to pursue this course of study,” says Emmanuvel, who hails from the little village of Vengoor, near Perumbavoor.

Specialising in mural painting Emmanuvel was bitten by the cinema bug during his first semester in the university. “This was on the misuses of mobile phones. I wrote out the script about how a girl's life is ruined by the misuse of a mobile phone. It was shot on a friend's ‘handycam'. Incidentally, there was a short film festival at a college in North Paravoor, and we decided to send enter this film in the festival. But the organisers refused to include it as they felt the quality was not good enough.”

That was Emmanuvel's first tryst with filmmaking. But this experience did not deter the young man from pursuing his passion. He went on to make his next film ‘Vairakallulla Thuruthu.' The film was based on a mentally sick man from his village. “He was called Thoma. I decided to observe him, follow him as he wandered through the village. He used to write, sometimes poems, sometimes gibberish. His lingo went beyond our understanding. He was not really insane. There was something mysterious about him.”

The film recreated Thoma's life in the village. Emmanuvel got some of his friends to act in the film.

Biggest challenge

“Getting my friends to act was tough. Also tough was raising money to pay the rent for the camera and such stuff.” Funding projects is perhaps Emmanuvel's biggest challenge. “There are a few people who are appreciative of my work. Vijayakumar Menon Sir, our teacher at the university, has always been with me right from the start. He also helps with information for the script and has given the commentary for a couple of my films. K. K. Rajesh, who owns a small jewellery shop in our village, and my friend Niju Paul, has also been a big source of help. I also pool in the little I manage to save.”

Inspired by Ranjith's ‘Kerala Café,' Emmanuvel roped in nine other friends and they created ten short films titled ‘Reminders.' The focus was again on mobile phones and ten problems associated with its usage. Like most youngsters Emmanuvel also tried his hand at a music video. “I wrote the lyrics, and composed the tune. A friend, Vishnu, sang it. The orchestra, mostly on the keyboard, was by Denzil. It was titled ‘Ormathan Thaalukal.' Almost all the final year students participated in the video version, which was shot entirely in our campus. It was a sort of remembrance of the campus days that the seniors were bidding adieu to.”

Two of Emmanuvel's short-documentaries that have been screened at various venues and got mixed reviews are ‘Kidavallichitrapaattu' and ‘Moonam Sathyam.' The first on the vanishing art of Davelipaattu' or also called Blavelipaattu. The second on transgenders, got him into some trouble. “When ‘Moonam Sathyam' a film on the third gender was screened in our village it created some serious issues. People got angry and some even refused believe in this truth.”

Currently, Emmanuvel is working on two projects. The first titled ‘Chamioottu' is a documentary on the adivasis of Kunchippara, near Kuttampuzha. “I visited them once and will be focussing on one group. The climb up to their colony is tough and will require a few days of stay there. We hope to begin work this month. It will be a detailed work on the history, life and culture of these people.”

Emmanuvel's other project is a short film ‘Karuppu' that talks about the ‘intoxicants' that have permeated the youth of today. “My focus is on terrorism, which is a sort of intoxicant.”

Not short of ideas Emmanuvel hopes to continue with his passion even after he graduates. The task is huge, he understands, and the projects need to be worth the effort financially too. But the young filmmaker is hopeful.