Biju Varkey's `Chandranilekkoru Vazhi' has won the John Abraham Award.

`Chandranilekkoru Vazhi,' means a lot to director Biju Varkey. It was a film, he hoped, would reconfirm his belief in good cinema and re-launch his career as a film director. Although he is disappointed that his film did not win any of the State film awards this year, winning this year's John Abraham Award, his first ever, has come as a fresh lease of life. "I'm really delighted to win the award in the name of the great director and that too from a very eminent jury," says Biju. However, he adds, "If the Government decides to go for films with rich doses of all the commercial ingredient s, then they should at least come forward and help other filmmakers. Many good films get stuck for want of distributors and exhibitors. Maybe the government can come forward and help get these films released."Biju made his debut through `Vaachalam' (1997 ). He later went on to make `Devadasi' (1999) and `Phantom Paily' (2003).

Tradition and society

`Chandanilekkoru Vazhi,' scripted by Biju along with K.G. Pradeep and Suresh Kochamini, explores some pertinent issues that centre on modern, fast-changing society. Through the life of a family that is engaged in the traditional art of singing `Thukkilunarthu pattu' (songs that were meant to wake up the gods) as a backdrop , the film questions how violence creeps into a simple, innocent society; the fate of these souls after they fall into the clutches of modernity and how the outside world cuts through their traditional values.Kumaran, brilliantly portrayed by Nedumudi Ve nu, carries on the burden of a family tradition with the help of his mother, wife Sulochana (Rekha) and his children Indira (Divya Vishwanath) and Vinod (Master Midhun). To make both ends meet, they run a small phenol unit. Modernity and its unsettling tendencies that gradually creep into their lives is symbolised through the character of Lenin (Manikantan) who comes to buy the phenol. His roving eye falls on Sulochana and Indira. The decadence of society is further highlighted by Kumaran's fear of tak ing his wife along for those long treks at night to practise an art that they had been pursuing for generations. He decides to seek the help of a distant relation of his, Chandran (Nishant Sagar), for the season when this art is in great demand. One day Chandran disappears.

A futile search

"Decadence of a traditional art is not an issue at all. Many others before have discussed it. The film begins with Chandran's dis appearance. And Kumaran's search for the young man whose child now grows in his daughter's womb. This search becomes one of realisation. There is a play upon the name `Chandran' (which means moon in Malayalam) in the title. We wanted to say that the ques t to find Chandran becomes as futile as finding a way to the moon."Biju makes no bones about his views on the results of some of the ideological movements like Marxism and Naxalism. In one superbly visualised sequence, the director shows men dressed up l ike Karl Marx, Lenin and so on walk down the stairs of a village communist party office, get into an open four-wheeler, on their way to a local meeting. The highpoint of the film is its technical brilliance. Excellent camerawork by M.J. Radhakrishnan, m usic by Afzal Yusuf, sensitive background score by Kadri Manikanth and editing by Ajith make this film a creative cinematic experience.