Of Sarah, Thaha and Thoufeek

Sarath Kottikal celebrates a unique friendship in docu-film ‘Sarah, Thaha, Thoufeek’

September 15, 2018 02:05 pm | Updated 02:05 pm IST

Sarath Kottikal gets emotional when it comes to his docu-film, Sarah, Thaha, Thoufeek . With the film’s teaser release on social media recently Sarath has been flooded with queries and is hoping for an International film festival exposure. His five years of hard work is finally finding fruition, he says.

A native of Thrissur, he was fascinated by the relationship between Sarah Cohen, a Paradesi Jew in Mattancherry and her two Muslim neighbours.

The film crosses the idea of class and religion, and blends these divides seamlessly into one of human understanding.

Although the crux of the film is the trio, Sarath attempts to bring in the human element as Sarah becomes representative of a community that was once vibrant in Kochi and of which she’s now among the few remaining. Her ancestors took refuge next to the Maharajah’s Palace in Mattancherry and she now lives in an ancient, Jewish-styled house on her own. Her husband is no more, and the streets of Jew Town now feebly resonate with Jewish life. Houses have been converted into shops, antique stores and restaurants. A few of the Paradesi Jews remain, others having moved to Israel after Indian independence. It is the tail-end of an enigmatic and special community in Kochi

It tells of Thaha’s first visit to Jew Town where he meets Sarah and of their friendship that grew gradually. With each visit he began assisting her small embroidery unit where she sells handmade accessories to tourists.

He introduces visitors to her, mainly Jewish tourists, visiting the area. The connection between the two is interesting; it is obvious that Sarah found a confidante in Thaha and his affection gave her support in solitude. Thoufeek comes in later in the film. His talent in calligraphy and skill in Hebrew draws a connection to the Jewish community through Sarah.

Sarah speaks of her desire to attend Thoufeek’s wedding and a flashback of her at Thaha’s wedding years ago arches a time period. More happenings of her quiet but interesting life in Jew Town are shown. Saddened that she can see the end of their community in Kochi, she says tearfully, “But India is my country and my home is here.” Sarath hints the end of an era, and gives a rare insight of a deep relationship between Muslims and Jews, affirming the idea that human relationship is the core of all living.

“The process of stitching and sewing at Sarah aunty’s embroidery shop, seen at various junctures in the film, symbolises the stitching together of peoples’ lives,” says Sarath. For him, the film is an expression of unique relationships that make life worth living.

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