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Documentary on Gudiyam caves makes it to Cannes

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Few know of Gudiyam’s prehistoric caves and not many visiting it treat the site with the respect it deserves.

Tourists often leave behind a trail of garbage and broken liquor bottles, not to mention graffiti on the walls of the cave.

But for a couple of men who visited the site — 60 kilometres from Chennai and close to Poondi reservoir — it was a life-changing experience.

For over three years, Ramesh Yanthra and cameraman Vasantha Kumar tried to capture the beauty of the caves on film. Their perseverance paid off finally, with their documentary film — Gudiyam Caves: Stone Age Rock Shelters of South India — being selected for screening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival to be held in May.

A graduate in fine arts from Chennai, Mr. Yanthra, the film’s director, first visited Gudiyam, in 2011, by chance. Incidentally, the Wikipedia page on Gudiyam Caves was created by him.

“The mere thought that people lived here so long ago is mind-boggling, but it is extremely disappointing to see how the place is abused by visitors,” he says.

The duo visited Gudiyam every single weekend, apart from doing research in libraries. They also interacted with experts from Archaeological Survey of India and Geological Survey of India. They also interviewed residents of villages around Gudiyam.

Fedo Pete of Chennai helped them with the soundtrack for the documentary film. A portion of the film was uploaded on the official website of Cannes Film Festival. On Tuesday morning, the duo received confirmation of their film’s selection in the short film section.

So far, Mr. Yanthra and Mr. Kumar spent Rs. three lakh from their personal funds on the project. They now need financial assistance to complete post-production work.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 8:11:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/documentary-on-gudiyam-caves-makes-it-to-cannes/article6968247.ece

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