Four years have passed since the Carlton Towers fire tragedy claimed nine lives in the city. Seeing one of his close friends suffer an irreparable respiratory damage in the accident inspired techie-turned-filmmaker Salil Lal to explore the human dimensions of the tragedy on celluloid.
The film in Malayalam titled ‘Calton Towers’ is Mr. Lal’s directorial debut. The film, a fictional take on the real tragedy, opens with the fire accident and goes onto deal with the reconciliation of a father who loses his advocate son in the blazing inferno .
“As the father attempts to nail the real culprits responsible for the tragedy, he stumbles upon unknown facets of his son’s life in the process ,” says Mr. Lal.
The film also discusses the lax fire safety norms in urban spaces, the real estate lobby, failed regulation and legislation as the father takes to activism fighting for other victims of the tragedy and finding a new purpose to his life.
Mr. Lal recounts that on the day of the tragedy, his friend, who was trapped inside the building, urgently called him and he rushed to the spot.
“The incident made a lasting impression on me,” he observes.
Mr. Lal, who hails from Cochin, was also involved with ‘Beyond Carlton’, an association formed by those afflicted by the tragedy.
“While venturing into feature films, I was always clear that it would be in Malayalam,” says Mr. Lal, who has directed three short films till now.
He first pitched the film to leading Malayalam actor Mammootty. When that did not work, he roped in Malayalam theatre actor Shivaji Guruvayoor to portray the central character of the father .