Kerala State Chalachitra Academy Chairman Priyadarshan talks about the effort behind organising IFFK.

While many theatres in Thiruvananthapuram provided a heady cocktail of movies for delegates of the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), S. Priyadarsan, Chairman, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, made a beeline for his favourite haunt in the city – Indian Coffee House.

As he rushed into the crowded, popular eatery at Anna’s Arcade, Spencer’s Junction, a moment of silence was followed by a buzz of excitement as diners recognised the popular film-maker, dressed in black shirt and trousers. As he unobtrusively made his way to a table, waiters, their faces aglow with smiles, rushed to his table with glasses of water. Without a second thought Priyadarsan placed an order for his favourite mutton omelette and puri and masala.

Mobile cameras of some of the diners flashed as he waited for food. On being congratulated for a fine opening for the IFFK, he said the festival this time had several technical features that needed to be coordinated with care to ensure that the delegates enjoyed the fete. Digital cinema package is aimed at preventing piracy and the film is downloaded and screened with the help of the Key Delivery Message (KDM). “It is time-locked and comes to us only at 6 p.m. every day. Sometimes, when we open it, it fails and then it becomes a stressful affair for us to change the screening,” he explains in the midst of making phone calls to sort out the issue. “Just when you feel that things are going smoothly, out of the blue, some technical glitches crop up. On top of that my father has been hospitalised and so I am running between the hospital and the festival office. On my way from the hospital, I was feeling hungry and decided to drop in at coffee house,” he said. He said the Indian Coffee House continued to be his preferred eatery in the city. In several interviews, he had said that the eatery was the rendezvous for his group of film-struck friends, including actor Mohanlal and producer Suresh Kumar, who dreamed of cinema when they were still students of various colleges in the city. “I feel nostalgic each time I come here. I do miss the ambience of the old building that was torn down. But, thankfully, the taste of the food remains the same,” he said. Does he recognise any of the waiters from those days? “No, not really, many have retired.” As he tucked into the piping hot puris and beetroot-filled red-coloured curry, he said he wanted to see the film Sister, directed by Ursula Meier. “I plan to watch a lot of movies during each festival. But every time, I end up fire-fighting and ironing out hitches,” he added.

After generously sprinkling pepper on his omelette he polished it off and asked for a cup of coffee which arrived in record time. This is one place that does not seem to forget its patrons.