The law of the jungle

A still from ‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’  

D. Bijukumar has made a name as a filmmaker who does not hesitate to take a strong political stand in his movies. His new film, Kaadu Pookkunna Neram (When The Forest blooms), is no different. It also happens to be his fifth film in which the characters remain nameless all through the flick.

“Names can be restrictive as they carry the baggage of religion and ethnicity. My characters represent a certain strata of people, they symbolise them as a whole; the characters by virtue of their birth or occupation inhabit certain economic and social spaces. They are the displaced, the dispossessed, the marginalised and the oppressed in society. That representation is more important than names,” insists the filmmaker who is planning to explore new physical and psychological spaces in September.

Kaadu Pookkunna Neram will be premièred in the world cinema section at the Montreal Film Festival, his second film after Perariyathvar to be selected in the prestigious fete. Biju says the film will also travel to a couple of film festivals before being screened in Kerala in November.

Soon after that Biju will travel to Bhutan to begin the shoot of his new film set in the country and in the local language. “There will be nothing political in that film. It is on Buddhism and unfolds in a monastery in the Himalayas, a serene tale of an inner quest. I have completed the script and it has been translated into Bhutanese. The actors will all be Bhutanese while technicians will be my usual team,” says Biju.

The award-winning filmmaker says he wants to work in a different place and on a completely new theme as he feels a kind of ‘rejection’ in Kerala. “I want to break free from that mood and feel this would be an interesting project in a completely new setting,” says Biju.

However, for the moment, Biju is excited about Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’sjourney to many film festivals abroad. He says it is a multi-layered work that examines many issues that are hindering our freedom of expression and political beliefs in society. Biju says that on the pretext of arresting radicals, the authorities are suppressing Adivasis and Dalits. He talks angrily about the case of Gouri, an Adivasi student who was arrested for putting up a poster calling for boycott of the elections. “Although the elections were over more than two months ago, Gouri is still languishing in jail.”

He adds: “My film is about the clash between agents of authority and those oppressed in the name of law and security. It is a subversive work that discusses gender roles and what happens if there is a role reversal.”

In Kaadu Pookkunna Neram a policeman is sent into the forest to arrest a woman branded as a radical. He manages to arrest her but then loses his way in the deep woods. Although the woman knows the way, she is in no mood to help him. “That is when there is a role reversal. The face of authority - the man - becomes helpless in the forest while the woman gains in strength. She is the only one who knows her way around. The hunted becomes the protector while the hunter becomes the victim. The woman becomes the guide and their survival depends on her. The wild does not respect the mores of the city,” says Biju.

Indrajith, Rima Kallingal, Indrans, Prakash Bare and Krishnan Balakrishnan are some of the actors in the cast while camera has been handled by M.J. Radhakrishnan. Shot in the forests of Achenkovil and Konni, the film also stars 60 students of a school for tribal children.

Indrajith and Biju share a close rapport and the two have worked together in many films while it is the first time that Rima is working under Biju’s direction. “I wanted a bold and active actor to play the radical female activist. Rima was perfect for the role. She is also an actor with political views. She was marvellous. There was a lot of trekking and action and Rima never tried to take it easy,” gushes Biju. He says while he was confident about Indrajith, Rima was an unknown factor initially.

Moreover, the shooting was a challenge for the entire cast and crew as the locations were deep in the forest and involved quite a bit of hard trekking to reach the place.

But Biju feels these are stories and themes that need to be discussed today. The filmmaker’s devotion to his craft is evident when he says that cinema must talk about such subaltern issues as it is one of the best mediums of expression to highlight such subjects and bring it to the mainstream. The filmmaker’s quest continues.

What’s in a name

Biju’s films that did not have names for the characters:

* Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal

* Perariyathavar

* Akashathinte Niram

* Veetilekkulla Vazhi

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 6:13:58 PM |

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