Friday Review

Talking cinema

Murali Gopy in a scene from Kanyaka Talkies, directed by K.R. Manoj

Murali Gopy in a scene from Kanyaka Talkies, directed by K.R. Manoj   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Independent cinema in Malayalam gets another shot in the arm with the release of K.R. Manoj’s Kanyaka Talkies.

Everyone’s talking about independent cinema these days thanks to the Kerala State Film Development Corporation’s (KSFDC) move to give it a space in its theatres. National award winning director K.R. Manoj’s debut feature film, Kanyaka Talkies, a booming triumph on the international film festival circuit, is all set for release this week, following the unprecedented success of Sudevan’s CR No. 89 and Sajin Babu’s Asthamayam Vare (Unto The Dusk) in theatres last month.

“It’s a much-needed and therefore a welcome move by KSFDC, which is finally giving independent cinema its due, in an industry where only commercial films get all the perks. There was a time, in the 70s, when parallel cinema flourished in Kerala, only to peter out sometime the 90s, for the lack of any support. This move reiterates what we, the independent filmmakers, have been saying all along – there is a discerning audience for our films. In fact, I estimate that there are 15 to 20 towns in Kerala, at least, which have the potential to be first release centres for independent cinema, where we can build up a parallel distribution network.” says Manoj, who directed the documentary A Pestering Journey, which won the National Award in 2010 for Best Investigative Film.

Incidentally, Kanyaka Talkies, based on the story ‘18+’ by P. V. Shaji Kumar and starring Murali Gopy, Lena and Alencier Ley in the lead, too talks about the state of cinema in Kerala, specifically, the loss of those once ubiquitous ‘B’ and ‘C’ class theatres.

Set in a sleepy hillside village, the film narrates the tale of Kanyaka Talkies, one such old cinema hall that survives by screening soft porn films, and its pious owner Yakoob (Alencier).

A series of personal tragedies forces Yakoob to leave the village and hand the theatre over to a local Christian diocese, which then ‘converts’ the space into a church. Father Michele Plathottathil (Murali Gopy) is appointed the priest and soon the church attracts a steady stream of followers. One among them is Ancy (Lena), who lives the double life of a home nurse and that of an ‘extra’ in B-grade movies. Meanwhile, Father Michele starts hearing strange voices that hark back to the building’s disreputable past…The events that unfold connects the three lead characters “as three dots of a triangle,” while delving deep into nuances of body, desire, pleasure and guilt.

“The narrative is rather complex and attempts to dissect two significant but different levels of imports from colonial times – Christianity and cinema – and the interconnections between them,” says Manoj.

“Religion abhors pornography; pornography adores body; body attracts gazes; gazes arouse desire; desire induces guilt; guilt anchors religion and religion abhors pornography…it really is a never-ending circle, isn’t it? The film is thus a contemplation of human desire – desire for cinema, desire for the film industry, desire for fame, desire for the body, particularly the female body…It’s not a film that will leave the viewer at peace with the world. Instead, it will make them ingest the issues that are being talked about and contemplate and be troubled by them as if it’s their own,” he adds.

The director is all praise for Murali. “The role is very different from the macho ones were used to seeing from him. Here, we’ve completely stripped him of that overwhelming masculinity and given it an altogether new dimension. It is undoubtedly one of Murali’s finest ever performances to date,” says Manoj, showering equal praise on his other two lead actors. Sound also plays a significant role in the film and it has been entirely shot in sync sound.

“It will be a very different hearing experience for viewers because we’ve attempted something different with the sound design and mixing, anchoring on subtle sounds and silence to fill the gaps and not noise,” says the director.

Apart from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Thrissur where KSFDC has theatres, the film, produced by Tropical Cinema in association with Work In Progress, is also being released in Kochi, Angamaly and Kanghangad.

At a later stage, they are also planning to release the movie on the internet and on digital cable networks as Video On Demand.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 11:02:49 PM |

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