Sajin Baabu’s Biriyani is told from a woman’s perspective

Kani in a still from Biriyani   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The ingredients of Biriyani, maverick film director Sajin Baabu’s third film, are all common place events that we see around us. But the filmmaker has used those incidents to come up with a hard-hitting film that does not shy away from asking some tough questions. With Kani in the lead as Khadeeja, Biriyani’s narrative is from a woman’s perspective.

“For a couple of years now, the media has carried reports about youngsters being radicalised and travelling to countries in West Asia to join the Islamic State; some have been arrested, some are missing. I wanted to find out what happens to the families of those men. How have they been treated by neighbours, society, government and community? How have they sustained themselves? The questions haunted me,” says Sajin.

Sajin examines what happens to Khadeeja’s family and life when her brother goes missing and is said to have been radicalised. Before writing the script, he did careful research and spoke to families that had been traumatised by the disappearance or arrest of a family member. “I also know people who are living that nightmare. But Biriyani does not stop there. It delves into the woman’s state of mind and what drives her to rebel against society and religion,” adds the director.

A still from Sajin Babu’s Biriyani

A still from Sajin Babu’s Biriyani   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Khadeeja’s world falls apart when her brother disappears. Gradually, she has to learn to start living again and find her feet on her own. That is when she begins questioning her cloistered existence. As a result of the ostracisation, her husband distances himself from her and she also loses her son. Her family comes under the police scanner. Forced to fend for herself and her mentally-challenged mother, Khadeeja finds herself isolated and bereft of any support.

Kani, in Sajin’s word “understood the character so well that there was no need to tell her anything more about Khadeeja”. He adds that he could only think of Kani while writing the script. “So, I contacted her and sent her the script as she wanted to read it. Although she took her time, she agreed to play Khadeeja and that, I believe, did the film a world of good,” says Sajin.

Theatre actor J Shailaja acts as Khadeeja’s mother. Theatre persons Anil Nedumangad, Surjith, Jayachandran and Shyam Reji are in the cast along with filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, playback singer Pushavathy and Kani’s father, Maitreyan.

Shot in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram and Atankara in Tamil Nadu, Biriyani has been filmed by Karthik Muthukumar and Harishankar, son of the late writer-director Lohitadas. The flick does not pull any punches while documenting Khadeeja’s emotional arc from a conservative sheltered homemaker to a woman thirsting for revenge.

Biriyani is doing the rounds for selection to some prestigious, international film festivals and Sajin is keeping his fingers crossed.

Film director Sajin Baabu

Film director Sajin Baabu   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“Nevertheless, I hope Biriyani gets a theatre release too because it is a film that must be seen by viewers in Kerala,” adds Sajin.

And where does the Biriyani come into the picture? “Cooking is all that Khadeeja knows and she uses that to get her back on an uncaring society,” he says, refusing to elaborate any further.

Sajin seems to enjoy exposing the hypocrisy, posturing and specious talk that we often find around us. His protagonists discover themselves in the strangest of situations and through unconventional methods. His first film Asthamayam Vare (Unto the Dusk), questioned conventional mores and sanctity of familial bonds. Ayal Sasi, his second film, tracked a man’s desperate craving for publicity and how he would go to any length to become the cynosure of all eyes.

Asthamayam Vare was premiered at Mumbai International Film Festival in 2014 in India Gold category and Bengaluru International Film festival 2014. It won the Rajathachakoram of the International Film Festival of Kerala and a Certificate of Merit for Promotion.

Although Ayal Sasi did not get enough traction on the film circuit, Sajin hopes Biriyani will attract millennial viewers because of the theme and its relevance.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 11:55:46 PM |

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