It happened hours before the film was to start. A young, good-looking adivasi woman rushed through the gate of the theatre in Attappady. She was sobbing inconsolably, her face pressed against the wall of the building. When the theatre owner and his assistants asked her the reason for this unbridled sorrow she, in between sobs and tears, narrated what had happened to her. It left those listening to her stunned.
V. M. Akhilesh, the theatre owner, could not get this off his mind. He told what he had heard to his friends V. H. Dirar and Rajesh Mohan. Dirar was in government service, did research on the adivasis in Attappady and Wayanad, sometimes doubling up as a freelance journalist. Much later , Dirar wrote a story based on this incident. Akhilesh sold his theatre in Attappady, had a long stint making ad films and turned to directing two films. And Rajesh Mohan went on to make his mark as a music director.
Much later, the three got together, worked on Dirar’s story, and the result is the film Poompattakalude Thazhvaram , which opens in theatres on March 8.
“This film is strongly woman-oriented. Though it speaks about an adivasi woman, the issue is universal. We have attempted to speak straight not metaphorically. The film moves through Rengi, played by newcomer Nima. In fact, Nima also plays her young daughter, Pappathi. Love, fall in values, plight of women, the film touches them all. That’s why we wanted this film to be released on Women’s Day,” says Akhilesh, who earlier directed Achante Ponnu Makal and Maya Kazchakal .
Shot entirely on locations at Attappady and Palakkad in about 26 days, the small-budget film introduces a host of new actors and technicians. “The entire cast and most of the crew are new to the industry. Nima is a Bangalore-based airhostess. She dons the role of the mother and daughter. Rajesh (Mohan) essays the role of Muthu, Dirar, scenarist Pramod Raman, mimicry artiste, magician and television anchor, Prathijnan, Krishna and Sandra complete the cast. This is the first time, perhaps, in Malayalam cinema that a music director dons a significant role.”
Rajesh Mohan, a trained vocalist, made his debut as music director in Guard and worked in other films like Lanka , Nadiya Kollapetta Rathri , Asuravithu etc. He plays the male lead in the film, a first for a music director. “Muthu, my character in the film, is interesting. He is a Tamil orphan, rough, wayward but kind at heart. People who watched the preview felt that I was okay. My priority is music but I’m open to acting too. There are four songs in the film. All of them blend with the story and backdrop. Jyothsna, Durga Viswanath, Baiju Madhav are the singers. I have also rendered one,” informs Rajesh, who has composed music for the recent Tamil film Sollamatten . Lyrics are by Engandiyoor Chandrasekharan, Shaktidharan and Dirar.
Poompattakalude Thazhvaram , the three friends hope, will reignite a debate on the plight of adivasi women, which the film attempts to portray. “After a long time, perhaps, our film will take the viewer back from the hustle and bustle of city life; from the new generation characters, from the glamour and glitz to issues that people, especially women, in places like Attappady and Wayanad confront. We hope we will be listened to,” says Dirar.