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International Film Festival of India 2016

‘This opportunity at IFFI is reassuring’

M.B. Padmakumar’s 'Roopantharam', chosen for screening in the Indian Panorama section at this year’s IFFI, is a visionary tale of a visually-challenged man.

November 16, 2016 05:15 pm | Updated December 04, 2016 04:35 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Kochu Preman in Roopantharam.

Kochu Preman in Roopantharam.

All eyes are on M.B. Padmakumar. The award-winning filmmaker’s new movie, Roopantharam, has been selected as one of the three Malayalam feature films to be screened in the Indian Panorama section of the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), along with Jayaraj’s Veeram and Biju’s Kaadu Pookkunna Neram. The director says he feels vindicated.

“I am relieved that the jury has accepted my efforts. The excitement of Roopantharam being chosen from over more than 40 entries from Malayalam is just sinking in. I realised that when it comes to recognition it is not enough if we make films in a serious way but those who assess them need to be thinking on the same level as well. Honestly, I was rather taken aback upon hearing comments from certain jury members about how the frames were too dark. I did that deliberately; the protagonist of Roopantharam is a visually-challenged person. This opportunity at IFFI is reassuring and it gives me positive energy,” explains Padmakumar.

M.B. Padmakumar

M.B. Padmakumar

According to the director, Roopantharam has been given a bit of experimental treatment. “The focus is mainly on the visually challenged Raghavan, played by Kochu Preman. Raghavan was born blind and is in his mid-sixties now. At a certain point of his life, he undergoes corrective eye surgery, at the behest of Abdullah, a hearing- and speech-impaired youngster, whom Raghavan had adopted from the street and brought up as his own son. Raghavan struggles to adapt to the colours of the world around and soon realises that the eyes are merely an instrument and vision is more of a feeling,” elaborates the director.

Padmakumar is quite well known as an actor too, with notable roles in films like Nivedyam , Kutty Sranku and Aswaroodan , besides several popular TV serials. His maiden venture as writer-director, My Life Partner , also had a rather unconventional storyline - that of a homosexual couple. At first there were no takers for the film but things started looking up when the film won four awards at the Kerala State film awards, including best second movie, best actor for Sudev Nair, who played the lead role, for sound mixing and background score.

The director has received bouquets and brickbats for his works. However, Padmakumar chooses to take all the brickbats in his stride. “I was practically unknown as a filmmaker then. Moreover, society still thinks of homosexuality as a taboo and not every one is comfortable about discussing it openly. The recognition for My Life Partner ’ at the state level really gave me the courage to dream even bigger,” he says.

He is not among those filmmakers who crib about “viewers’ apathy towards serious cinema” or complain of being neglected by theatre owners. Instead, Padmakumar believes that the key to overcoming those hurdles is to make films with viable budgets, without compromising on quality.

Roopantharam was primarily shot in Rajaji Nagar colony (Chenkalchoola) in Thiruvananthapuram in a span of eight days. Bharat, Sona Nair and Sneha Anu are also part of the cast. Besides writing and directing, Padmakumar has also edited Roopantharam . “There is a certain edit pattern that has been religiously being followed here. I wanted to change the routine around a bit,” he says.

Sona Nair and Kochu Preman in Roopantharam.

Sona Nair and Kochu Preman in Roopantharam.

The director, who hopes to continue working as an actor while making films, will start the shooting of his next project soon. He has lined up a few veteran theatre actors for the same. Roopantharam will be released in theatres soon after the screening at IFFI, which begins November 20.

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