A peep into the world of Adoor Gopalakrishnan.I make films about human relationships.
The biggest honour of the country in the world of cinema was bestowed upon Adoor Gopalakrishnan long ago. The Dada Saheb Phalke award winner got the attention and the recognition right from his first film “Swayamvaram” made in 1972. It continues with his latest internationally acclaimed film “Naalu Pennungal” (Four Women), made last year. At the recent Cinema South International Festival held annually in Israel, three films of the versatile filmmaker from Kerala, “Nizhalkuthu” (Shadow Kill), “Vidheyan” (Servile) and a documentary “Dancing With The Enchantress” were screened. This year, the Festival, held under the sponsorship of the film school at Safir College in Sderot, matched up Israel’s south with India’s south and zeroed in on screening Malayalam films. An excerpt from a conversation during the Cinema South International Film Festival held in Sderot in Israel’s Negev region recently.
Why is your most talked about latest film “Naalu Pennungal” not screened at the Cinema South Festival? Since it has a screening at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which got decided long ago, so a screening cannot be held in the same country in such a short span.
What is “Naalu Pennungal” all about?
The film is based on four short stories written by Jnanpith award-winning Malayalam writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. The film revolves around four women — a prostitute, an unmarried girl, a housewife and a virgin belonging — to four different strata of the society and covers different time spans, from 1940 to 1960, and the changing social milieu. But even in the contemporary context it does not lose relevance.
You seem to make only women-centric films.
No, I make films about human relationships. I am not a filmmaker who is a torchbearer of any women’s movement. I had that clear with my first film “Swayamvaram” and if that was the case then my films like “Mukhamukham” and “Vidheyan” wouldn’t have been received the way they were. My films directly talk with the contemporary time.
Your film “Nizhalkuthu” (Shadow Kill) was more talked about for its premise?
The plot is set in the 1940s and it is about Kaliyappan, a hangman. It earned a lot of praise and awards in the film festivals of Toronto, London, Italy and France. The film explores the recesses of the human consciousness. We always think about death with a vague perspective and are not able to think about it when it comes. The film refers to the story from the Mahabharata, where the Kauravas employ a witch hunter to kill the Pandavas.
What do you consider most while selecting apremise?
I do not make any extra effort. They can come from anywhere. Films reflect our lives. When I made “Antarman”, a friend of mine had adopted a child then. The characters lived by Nandita Das, Manju Pillai, Gitu Mohan Das and Padmapriya on screen are around in our society and so are realistic.
We have enough market for such realistic cinema and your “Four Women” is now going to have a mass release in Poland.
Yes, this new breed of young filmmakers such as Murali Nayar, Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Bharadwaj are making better realistic cinema in India. (The commercial rights of “Four Women” has been bought by Polish TV.)
You are seen as the global face of Indian cinema after Satyajit Ray. Your comment on it.
I do not agree, nobody can take Ray’s place, not even me. He was a great filmmaker. It is a different issue that after him my films are liked a lot in Europe.
What could be the reason that in the recent Nantes Film Festival in France there were only two Indian entries when we are known as the country that produces the maximum number of films in the world?
Yes, it is amazing. I feel the awards’ politics is to be blamed for this state of films and filmmakers. Nowadays, films are either made for the market or to grab awards. Whereas we need to think and make films which are always relevant for viewers, time and market.
Why have you not made any Hindi film so far?
Making a film for me is a challenge. Till I don’t get convinced and confident on the language front I will not make a Hindi film. Both Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen made films in Hindi but they didn’t do well. People see such cinema from a different perspective. My films are different too.
What are you doing next?
I am working on my new film “A woman, to Man”. This too is based on a story by Thakazi Sivasankara Pillai.