The lights dimmed and shadows moved stealthily across the stage, removing the chairs and other paraphernalia that took up space during the formal closing ceremony of the 17 edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). The audience grew restless in anticipation of a finish that promised to be a quintessentially Indian musical performance. The impressive symphony conducted by an orchestra from London had set the tone for the week-long festival, which ended, quite literally, with a bang of the ‘Thavil’, at the Nishagandhi amphitheatre on Friday evening.

A lone figure in white sat on a pedestal in front of the stage, his head bowed and hands beating the Carnatic instrument in a low rhythm. The spotlight shone down on Karunamoorthy, a ‘Thavil’ maestro who composed and led the 25-minute sequence. A few gentle beats of the drum eased the audience into a show that all at once transformed from a solo play into a mass of ‘Thappattam’ performers. From behind the audience, 100 Thappattam dancers armed with the Parai drum filled the stage, one by one contributing to a collective hum. The impatient rap of the drumsticks soon turned into a mad chorus of beats to strike in sync with the tumultuous roar of percussion instruments on stage. Completely unselfconscious and enraptured by the ‘Journey of Rhythm’ or ‘Thalayanam’, as this performance was labelled, the 100-odd drummers wove together a performance worthy of a befitting end to the festival. Rising and falling in frequency and volume, the rural Tamil folk artistes even got the foreign delegates to get up towards the end to jive to the beat. The frenzy of colours from the spotlights added to the spirited performance. The crowd’s attention was drawn away from the captivating show on stage only to gaze up at the fireworks display that ended the show.

Organised by cine director T.K. Rajeevkumar, the final show too drew in the participation of the audience. This unerring passion for good cinema among the Kerala audience was identified as the stamp of success of the festival. Filmmaker Paul Cox, simply stated, “You, you are the best audience in the world. Without your enthusiasm and support, we have nothing.” The guest of honour, Soleymane Cisse, described his experience here as ‘magical’.

The crowd applauded the filmmakers who won the many awards, which were presented during the ceremony. The loudest cheer went up for Nitin Kakkar who won the best debut director award for Filmistan. The film was screened again at Kairali Theatre at 9 p.m. on Friday.

Keywords: IFFK 2012