Veteran Jayabharathy’s ‘Puthran’ has been languishing for want of distributors

Not a single distributor in the State has so much as even given a second’s look at the 2011 film ‘Puthran’ that deals with the sensitive issue of child abuse and child labour.

Braving the odds, veteran filmmaker and the film’s director, Jayabharathy, who prides himself on being among the first flush of directors that launched an ‘alternative cinema’ movement in the Tamil film industry in the late 1970s, now hopes to raise funds through crowd sourcing to release his film ‘Puthran’ (meaning son) in theatres.

“Crowd-sourcing the release of the film is nothing new for me,” says the 63-year-old director. The Hindu“I had raised funds through friends and college students way back in 1979 for my film ‘Kudisai’ (hut). I remember selling donation tickets and conducting programmes at government colleges, back then, to raise the Rs. 90,000 that was required to release the film.”

With ‘Puthran,’ quite naturally, the targeted amount is a lot steeper. He says he requires at least Rs. 30 lakh just to pay the labs that developed the film. The film, starring veteran film and stage actor Y.Gee. Mahendra and actor Sangeetha in the lead, was screened at Chennai International Film Festival, 2012, and has already won rave reviews.

Starting first week of January, Mr. Jayabharathy hopes to go to city colleges to reach out to students and managements to fund the release. Any student or college that contributes over Rs. 1,000 will get a rolling credit.

Passion for cinema

Mr. Jayabharathy’s given name is R. Jayaraman and he is well known in Tamil literary circles. He was formerly a journalist with the Tamil daily ‘Dinamani,’ and has written several articles on world cinema in leading Tamil magazines.

‘Puthran’ is his ninth feature film. Some of his acclaimed and award-winning works include ‘Kudisai’ (1979), ‘Uchchi Veyil’ (1991) and ‘Nanba Nanba’ (2002), which fetched Vagai Chandrasekar a National Award for Best Supporting Actor.

“My films have been screened in the Indian panorama category at various international film festivals and won awards. But I am unable to find a distributor for them in the State where only entertainment-oriented films seem to hit the screens,” he laments. “Puthran focuses on an issue and was not made to just entertain. I wish there is space for such cinema here.”

Film critic K. Hariharan, who was himself a part of the ‘alternative movement’ that Mr. Jayabharathy refers to in his 1981 feature ‘Ezhavathu Manithan,’ says the filmmaker’s plight is not entirely difficult to understand. “The dynamics of getting a movie released these days are mind-boggling. For a film to have a reasonable opening and break even, it would have to release in at least 120 of the 800 available screens. The plight of Mr. Jayabharathy is also the plight of many other filmmakers,” says Mr. Hariharan.