Paddayi, Tulu's own Macbeth

In the last 25 years, films made in Tulu, a Dravidian language essentially spoken by around two million native speakers, mainly in south-west part of Karnataka has bagged as many as five national awards. After Bangar Patler directed by Richard Castelino in 1993, Koti Chennaya (2007), Gaggara (2010), Madipu (2017) have secured national awards. Abhaya Simha continued the trend of the award winning spree in 2017 for his fourth directorial venture, Paddayi.

It is interesting that a student of journalism and literature, Abhaya studied film craft and grammar at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII-Pune), chose Tulu for his fourth venture. His earlier three films, including award winning Gubbachigalu, are made in Kannada.

Paddayi means 'west' in Tulu. It signifies fishermen going westwards in the sea for fishing. In a way, it is associated with greed, more money, among other things. How, these values "western values" percolate in the life of the innocent and ignorant fishermen of the east is the essence of this film.

This national award winning film was screened in the 10th Bengaluru International Film Festival and recently screened in the competition section of New York Indian Film Festival to wide acclaim.

Why did he make a Tulu film ? “As the story is set in Tulu Nadu, I felt that making Paddayi in Kannada will lose its nativity and look unnatural since language is a part of the narrative. I was aware of the fact that it will not be a small budget film and was apprehensive of recovering the investment by making film in Tulu. Even after considering all these aspects, I had determined to make the film in Tulu,” says Abhaya.

On how making Paddyi struck him, he asserts, every film maker will go back to his formative years, while toying around a subject. As most of my formative years were spent in Mangalore, Paddayi geographically was always there on the back of my mind. It took a definite shape when I wanted to look through the prism of Macbeth. Macbeth has touched generations of filmmakers and artistes in many ways. However, in modern India, as people live in a transitional state in a dynamic society, the epic story attains a new dimension. Paddayi is a modern day take on Shakespeare's Macbeth in Tulu.

Paddayi, Tulu's own Macbeth

What made him to choose Shakespeare, especially Macbeth, to narrate story of fishermen? "I am a student of English literature and read Macbeth as a text too. Immensely inspired by this play, I was pondering for long over contemporising the theme. During a conversation with Venkataramana Aithal of Ninasam, I learnt that; presenting a picture of society, through the story of a common man is the essence of classics. Paddayi is not a period drama. I adapted Macbeth to suit the needs of the present day society. As I am basically from Tulu Nadu and observing the fishermen community from close quarters, what struck me was greed of modern day man. In the neo-liberal society of the country, both morality and culture is in a transitional state and this is the changing dynamics of community living too.

During monsoon fishermen stop going out to sea. Small traditional boats can't cope with the high tide and turbulent sea. Moreover, it is the breeding season for fish. This was the situation earlier. Now things have changed with the entry of big trawler fishing vessels. Despite government prohibiting fishing during monsoons , these trawlers will carry on fishing destroying the eggs. This has a bearing on traditional fishermen, who are eking out their living. Of the total fishing output, only 20 per cent is being used for consumption and rest is being used for other commercial purposes. The reason for this is greed, and Macbeth also delineates on this. Paddayi essentially focuses on what happens to a culture, when carnal desires and ambition creep in,” says the composed Abhaya.

Though Abhaya wrote the story and screenplay, it was Mr. Yadav from Udupi, who translated the dialogues to Mogaveera Tulu. Abhaya conducted a workshop of the kind for three days for artistes in Udupi with Mogaveera community people. There he further tweaked the dialogues to suit the needs of the narrative. "The dialogues used in the film sound native, as we used local lingo to make it authentic," he said.

Considering the present trend of film makers categorising their film under specific genres, what is the category under which Paddayi falls?

"For me Paddayi is basically human drama. I don't know under which category it comes. It is left to critics, as the film essentially speaks about the aspirations of common men and women."

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 1:26:33 PM |

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