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A first in many ways

P.K. Ajith Kumar
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Cinema K.P. Suveeran says he never thought his film ‘Byari' would fetch him the National Film Award for the Best Film. P.K. Ajith Kumar

Director Ranjith was a bit perplexed when he saw a film poster as he drove to Mangalore from Kozhikode. The poster featured Mamukoya and Mallika and the name of the film was written in Kannada.

He wondered which was this Malayalam film that had been dubbed to Kannada? Or did Mamukoya act in a Kannada film?

Little did Ranjith imagine that he was looking at the poster of a film that would be adjudged India's best film of 2011. Neither did he imagine the director of the film, K.P. Suveeran, was his junior at the School of Drama (Thrissur).

Debut film

Suveeran's debut feature film ‘Byari,' in Beary language, pulled off a surprise when it bagged the National Award for the Best Film, along with ‘Deool' (Marathi).

“My biggest hope was that the film would win the award for the best regional film in Kannada. I didn't imagine it would fetch me the Golden Lotus award for the best film,” says Suveeran. The Mahe-based director adds it was with some difficulties that he made ‘Byari,' which is also the first ever film in Beary language, spoken by a Muslim community in Southern Karnataka, near Kasaragod.

“I shot the film in the 16mm format; because that was only what the budget allowed. I feel I could have made ‘Byari' more beautiful if there were no financial constraints,” he says.

Suveeran feels the jury of the National Film Awards may have been impressed by the honesty with which he made ‘Byari' and the way he told a poignant tale.

“I tried to show how Nadira (a role that fetched Mallika a special mention from the National Film Awards) fought against some customs in her community. As my background is basically theatre, I have used elements of drama in the treatment of ‘Byari', but no one has singled out that as a fault,” he said.

Suveeran said cinema was a natural progression from theatre. “I still love to do theatre; my last drama was an adaptation of C.V. Balakrishnan's novel ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam.' I decided to make films because a film would remain long after you are gone. A drama is good only so long as it is performed, while a good film would live for ever,” he said.

Although ‘Byari' is his maiden feature film, Suveeran has to his credit quite a few short films, including ‘Sound Machine,' in which Sreenivasan played the lead role. The 45-minute film was adapted from Norwegian writer Roald Dahl's celebrated short story about a man who is obsessed with nature's ‘inaudible sounds.'

‘“Sound Machine' was made by pooling Rs. 1,000 each by 200 friends of mine. And Sreenivasan was one of those 200 producers and he acted in the film without taking any remuneration,” he said.

Suveeran is planning another film with Sreenivasan. “Sreenivasan would be writing the script too. I had associated with him during the making of ‘Udayananu Tharam', in which I also did a small role,” he said.

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