Santhosh Lakshman’s ‘Everest’ is a tale of triumph against adversity

“It is all about attitude, not altitude,” says Diana, the protagonist of Everest, a short film directed by Santhosh Lakshman. Diana, played by Kollam-based Aswin Raaj, is a midget who becomes the medium for the message that Everest attempts to deliver in its 18-minute runtime.

The film, which is entirely in English, is a collection of instances from Diana’s life, tied together with the underlying story of another young orphan who is poised to give up on her dreams and her subsequent interactions with Diana.

The inspirational concept of rising above physical limitations and achieving success by focusing on personal strengths is given heavy emphasis. That said, the darkness of rejection flows through many shots in the movie and while the difficulties faced by Diana are conveyed amply, the movie seems to jump and stutter between scenes. However, Aswin is a revelation in terms of what people, regardless of shape and structure, can do when given the right opportunities.

Santhosh, who has assisted Major Ravi on some previous ventures including Karmoyodha, believes that people like Aswin often do not receive the respect and consideration they deserve.

Fighting stigma

“When I approached this film, I was firm that I wanted to do something different. I have noticed, that in buses and public places, there are special provisions made for the blind and the elderly, but midgets are often ignored, Everest is an attempt to tell a tale of triumph against adversity by overcoming societal perceptions,” he says.

The ridicule received as a result of being below average height is a very real thing, according to Santhosh. Aswin, who has done some supporting roles in comedy shows, agreed to do Everest only upon realising that it did not reduce her to comic relief again.

The film chronicles the lead character Diana’s early life in an orphanage and her struggles in a harsh world where the only thing keeping her going is the belief that she is not an aberration, ‘an alien’, as she says in the film.

Everest is slated to hit the film festival circuit in a short while, and as a result is not being screened in the public sphere at the moment. The supporting cast of the short includes Devika Narayanan, Senji Sebastian and Bibi Catherine Anthony.

The film has been produced by R. Saji Kumar under the banner of SQ Films. The music has been done by Sangeetha Varma and Anand N. Nair wields the camera.