Some called up friends and swore they were standing on the very same tarmac as Kim ki-Duk. One of them even made him say “hello” to a friend.

In the morning buzz around Vazhuthacaud, amid children rushing to school and people generally busy filling another day with their joys and worries, he strolled inconspicuously.

In a pair of black baggy trousers and a black shirt, his hair put up in a bun, Kim ki-Duk looked starkly simple, almost unreal. He ambled along the busy street on Wednesday morning, taking in the sights and sounds, occasionally clicking a snap or two on his tablet camera.

Nobody seemed to notice at first, it being highly unlikely that a film-maker of such iconic stature among the film buffs of Kerala could be out on the street at such a time, with no diligent official or flashing cameras. And, he had arrived in the city just the previous night. One gaped as he stopped for a photograph and requested for a snap on his tablet too.

Every now and then he smiled affably at groups of children on their way to Cotton Hill School, busy in animated talk. He asked where the red buses stuffed with students and office-goers were headed when a couple of excited passengers waved at him.

Slowly, a young IFFK delegate here and another across the road began to spot him. They stopped short on their way to the first screening of the day, looked in disbelief, and rushed to the director.

Some called up friends and swore they were standing on the very same tarmac as Kim ki-Duk. One of them even made him say “hello” to a friend. “We love you, we adore you, your film Pieta last year was just too good,” he told the director. Kim ki-Duk smiled at him and said “thank you.” One of the fans even fell at his feet.

His innocence strikes you first. His manners, ever so pleasant and humble, makes one wonder whether he realised the full scale of awe and admiration he was inspiring all the way. That his poetic frames and dreamlike themes in films such as 3 Iron, Dream, and The Bow, to name a few, keep wowing beginners and veterans alike. Not even for once did he scowl at a young fan or grow impatient at starry-eyed admirers falling all over him.

When film-makers Kamal and Madhupal, who were on their way to Kalabhavan theatre, were introduced to him, Kim ki-Duk took a bow. As he walked on, some of the delegates followed him out of the theatre .

When somebody asked him if he found the climate hot, he replied, “yes, it is too cold right now in South Korea.” But by now, he would surely have realised how this place, worlds apart compared to his homeland, held him in great respect. Something truly special, like that magnificent lake in his much loved tale, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.


Alchemist of cinema December 12, 2013

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