Kerala

Kerala floods and moral dilemmas of expatriates Down Under

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Empathy is the theme of the 37-minute short film ‘Mullaperiyare Chathikkalle’ made by a group of Australia-based youngsters

When an unprecedented deluge hit the State last year, Malayali expatriates generously loosened their purse strings to help their brethren. But was it the easiest thing to do from a place faraway from all the mayhem while leading a normal life unmoved by the catastrophe that had hit the people back home?

That question of empathy is at the centre of a 37-minute short film Mullaperiyare Chathikkalle, made by a set of Australia-based youngsters -- almost all except its director Jose Sunny were novices with no previous experience of associating with movies. It revolves around the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by the Malayali community in Australia as they grapple with whether or not to go ahead with their Onam celebrations, the most anticipated event of their expatriate lives, in the wake of the deluge back home.

Deluge

“I wanted to look at the flood from the perspective of overseas Malayalis,” said Mr. Sunny, a level 1 science coordinator at St. John’s College, Dubbo, in Australia. Even the title in a way signified the question of empathy discussing, though, in a subtle manner the concerns over a potential breach of the Mullaperiyar dam.

“For some, it could be about losing their dear ones, for the more humanists it could be about the great tragedy it will entail and then there are even people worried about the loss of investment if their hot real estate property gets gobbled up by water,” said Mr. Sunny, who had two critically acclaimed short films to his credit.

Making his third movie turned out to be a logistical nightmare, as the cast and crew were from five different cities separated by hours of travelling. So, the script discussion and a workshop was conducted over Skype while one of the actors doubled up as a location hunter before the shooting gets under way.

It was meticulously planned and wrapped up in a tight schedule of five days as the cameraman Winster John, a long-time friend of the director and fellow movie buff, had to fly back to his workplace at Mongolia on the sixth day.

Since then the movie was screened for the Malayali expatriates in Wollongong, Sydney, Brisbane, New Castle, Canberra and Adelaide to very good reception.

He keeps his fingers crossed as the subtitled version of the movie is about to be released in YouTube for the larger international audience on December 7.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 4:54:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/film-deals-with-moral-dilemmas-of-malayali-expatriates/article30124486.ece

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