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Award for ``Kutty'' and its maker


HER FIRST film made many people cry - so moved were they on seeing the trials and tribulations of a young girl taken away from her home in the village and made to work in a city.

It was not so much the work as the pain she goes through when she discovers how much she wants to go back to her home and when she thinks she is going home she is actually on a path of no return.

This irony filled the people with anguish. ``Kutty" is about child labour and about how social consciousness only extends to feeling helpless. The film has won laurels and so has its maker Janaki Viswanathan, journalist-turned filmmaker. To her goes the Gollapudi Award - instituted by Gollapudi Maruti Rao in memory of his son Srinivas who died in the process of working in his debut film. Now in its fifth year this is the first time a Tamil film has been chosen for this honour for the best debutant director and for the sensitive portrayal of a socially relevant issue.

Janaki also won the Special International Jury Prize at the International Film Festival For Children held in Cairo in March.

``I am not really too bothered by awards,'' Janaki says when asked how she felt about such honours so early in her career as a filmmaker. "This is not to belittle their importance but it is just that I made the film because I felt so strongly about the issue.''

She sees herself first as a communicator and for her content is the most important aspect in a film. She firmly believes that a film cannot survive on formula alone and that something relevant needs to be said.

She refuses to be categorised among the commercial, off beat or even the art mould because she says, ``the reason I chose the medium of cinema is because of its tremendous reach.''

It also does not make her very happy if her films are only seen by juries and critics - ``it needs to be seen by the masses.'' Which is probably the only disappointing aspect of her maiden venture. While critical accolades came in plenty the audiences at large did not seem too enthusiastic. ``Its only when the audience feedback is good that you feel your stand is vindicated and that propels you forward into doing more such ventures. And just because a film has a socially relevant message it does not mean that it cannot be entertaining,'' she says rather emphatically.

``It does not have to be dull and as long as you can say what you have to say within the parameters of your own sensibilities its fine - ``Kutty" has proved it. You really don't have to sermonise or moralise." Janaki does not want to be bound by perceptions especially because she is a woman. ``I want to break out of that,'' she says and her next venture, which is also going to deal with a relevant issue, should hopefully help her with that.


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