National Film Awards 2018: On the winners and their stories

In conversation with Sajeev Pazhoor, this year’s National Award winner for original screenplay

Sajeev Pazhoor

Sajeev Pazhoor   | Photo Credit: S. Gopakumar

The script of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is not about how much it tells. Rather, it's about how much it doesn't, about how much it makes you work and about how it confuses you on whom to root for. The National Award jury, which reserved gushing praise for the film, though did not have any doubts on which film deserved the Best Screenplay award.

At the core is a story that could be reduced to a single column item in a newspaper, of a gold chain theft inside a bus. But Sajeev Pazhoor fleshes it out and brings on screen a multi-layered humanistic portrayal.

A journalist by profession, Mr.Pazhoor has put to use those skills too, especially in detailing the procedures inside a police station.

"The question everyone asked us was on whether this is a real story. It is not. I began from the kinds of emotions that a woman who has lost her 'Thalimaala' (wedding chain) would feel, about the loss of a valuable object and the loss of something with deep emotions attached to it. If the thief is a clever one, it further complicates matters. That led me to the events inside the police station," he says.

The inputs of the real-life policemen, who acted in the film also helped, he says. The policemen, or rather none of the characters, are painted in black and white. Even the character of ASI Chandran (Alancier) does what he does, forced by circumstances.

"Police force has as many good or bad people as the society around has. They are not some special creatures," says Mr.Pazhoor.

But a key underlying element, which lies beneath the easily identifiable ones of justice system and power and caste hierarchies, is that of water, and its scarcity. The main characters move from a land bound by water bodies to a dry piece of land like Kasaragode. The gold chain is their only hope of finding a solution to the scarcity. Then there is another layer, the one of trust.

"We all survive on trust, beginning from the trust of waking up alive tomorrow. The woman who lost her chain believes that the thief had stolen it, but fails to make others, including her husband believe the same. No one trusts the thief. Even the policemen do not trust each other, but they need it to some extent to move ahead," he says.

His initial plan was to direct the movie himself, before Dileesh Pothen came on board. He believes the film would have had more of an 'academic nature', if he had handled it, unlike Pothen, who infused it with a highly realistic treatment.

With no formal training in cinema, Mr.Pazhoor considers filmmaker Shaji.N.Karun as his mentor. He wrote his first script, Swapaanam, for Mr.Karun.

"I think watching cinema has been my education. For the past two decades, I have not missed any of the major film festivals in India. That has certainly helped me," he says.

Currently, he is working on another film with G.Prejith.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 10:23:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/in-conversation-with-sajeev-pazhoor-this-years-national-award-winner-for-original-screenplay/article23526385.ece

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