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A positive take

Still from Insha Allah

Still from Insha Allah   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Insha Allah set in Coimbatore is winning recognition at independent film festivals

The Tamil film Insha Allah that is doing the festival rounds has won a nomination at the Paraguay Independent Film Festival. The film has also made it to the official selection at the Benin City Film Festival in Nigeria and more is expected in the coming days. “For the next one year, it will do the festival circuit before having a theatrical release,” says director Seerkatchi Pakhil Pandian (SPP) Bhaskaran.

The 84-minute film, a straightforward narration of middle-class Muslim society, is partly inspired by short stories of authors Thoppil Mohammed Meeran and Firdous Rajakumaran. It is shot in Coimbatore.

SPP Bhaskaran

SPP Bhaskaran   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“To learn more about the community, I shifted my residence to Karumbukadai, a Muslim-dominated locality in Coimbatore, and lived there for six months,” says Bhaskaran, founder of Kovai Film Society (KFS) that screens Hollywood classics, documentaries and short films over the weekends. KFS has had several film festivals for children too.

Bhaskaran has also written and directed a short film titled Naanudaimai that won recognition at online short film festivals. Insha Allah, he says, sheds light on the philosophy behind the Islamic way of life. The film is produced by Bhaskaran’s friend Shahul Hameed, under his banner Nesam Entertainment Private Limited. “Shahul runs electrical motor manufacturing and is also into farming. He is passionate about literature and arts,” says Bhaskaran

Bhaskaran shot the film for 21 days using live sounds at a location called Pillayarpuram that was once a deserted area. “Now, it is home to hundreds of families from different religion and communities. They co-exist and there is harmony. But even today such settlements suffer without drainage and drinking water.”

Still from Insha Allah

Still from Insha Allah   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The hero is a driver for the organisation Jeevasanthi (the NGO performs the last rites for unclaimed bodies). “Another important character is a beneficiary of the New Generation Trust that builds homes for abandoned women, most of them divorcees,” he says. The team also shot live at the weekly sandhai at Pillayarpuram.

The cinematography is by TS Prasanna of Blue Ocean Film and Television Academy (BOFTA). “As for the actors, some have done serials on television, while others are newcomers. We rented a house at Pillayarpuram where the actors and the technical team lived as one big family through the filming. But a big plus for us was poet Vikramathithan and his wife who play an old couple in the film. Vikramathithan has played character roles in director Bala’s award-winning films like Naan Kadavul. He is an important poet, relevant to our times,” says Bhaskaran.

Still from Insha Allah

Still from Insha Allah   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As for his experience with the community, he says, “It was heart-warming. I had an opportunity to attend an Islamic Conference and have used some shots from there. I have also filmed at the Cheraman Juma Masjid, believed to be the first mosque in the country. It is located at Kodungalloor in Kerala. There is also footage of the 800-year-old mosque at Keeranur, near Palani. The film is an outsider’s view of the community.”

He says feedback from the film fraternity has been encouraging. “ I showed it to Cinematographer Chezian whose independent film To Let won a National award. He advised me to not make any changes. That is a big compliment.”

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:31:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/coimbatore-based-filmmaker-bhaskarans-film-insha-allah-has-won-nomination-at-the-paraguay-independent-film-festival/article29767710.ece

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