After 40 years, ‘Thampu’ returns, to save a river

Entranced: Aravindan (right), Nedumudi Venu and singer Njeralath Ramapoduval near the Bharathapuzha in 1978.  

When director G. Aravindan reached Thirunavaya, on the banks of the Bharathapuzha, four decades ago with a group of actors and circus artists, the river was not on its death bed. With its clear waters and stunning sandbanks, it formed a majestic setting for his National Award-winning documentary feature, Thampu (‘Circus Tent’). But today, with the river struggling for survival, the film’s ageing crew are planning a rescue.

“Now the Bharathapuzha has shrunk to a trickle. It doesn’t even meet drinking and irrigation needs. The village, too, has lost its sheen,’’ says actor V.K. Sreeraman, who made his debut with Thampu. It was while sharing his concerns with actor Nedumudi Venu, who also starred in the film, that an idea was born: to observe the 40th anniversary of its release as an occasion to explore ways of giving the river a new lease of life.

During March first week, artists and technicians who worked on the film will throng the banks of the river, along with Aravindan’s friends and relatives.

"Only a few alive now"

“Aravindan died 26 years ago. Bharath Gopi, who played a major role in the film, died nine years ago. Very few of the artists and technicians are now alive, and they include Jalaja, Nedumudi and me. We will all come,’’ Mr. Sreeraman told The Hindu.

Sreedharan Champad, the circus artist-turned-writer who has chronicled the history of the Indian circus, will be there. “He helped Aravindan understand the circus. Local resident Kunhumohammed, who arranged stay facilities for the shooting, will attend. Singer Kavalam Sreekumar will organise a musical evening in memory of his father, Kavalam Narayana Panicker,” Mr. Sreeraman said. Shaji N. Karun, who did the camera work, and Aravindan’s close friend, the artist Namboodiri, are also likely to attend.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 5:43:16 AM |

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