FRIDAY REVIEW

Choosing to walk alone

PASSING SHOT G. Aravindan.  

GAUTAM CHATTERJEE

G. Aravindan's contribution to regional and global cinema should not be forgotten

From "Uttarayanam" (1974) to "Vasthuhara" (1990), G. Aravindan could not have made more films. But since his demise sixteen years ago, we have talked very little about him in cinematic circles . I was with him in January 1991 at the International Film Festival in Chennai. At that time I did not imagine that only two months later he would be no more. Sitting under a tree on the premises of the University Centenary Auditorium during the festival, he softly said, "It is very difficult to talk about one's feelings about spirituality or mysticism. Once you start thinking aloud on these subjects, you ruin it. We all need to keep, our secrets, our faith in what appears to be irrational." We met for the first time in 1985 in Varanasi, while he was making a short film "The Seer Who Walks Alone" on philosopher J. Krishnamurthy. By coincidence I was there to assist him. . The next year Krishnamurthy ji passed away in California. We had the last opportunity to interview him. Aravindan saidthat in making thatfilm we too need a point of confluence like when a river merges into an ocean, like where the Adyar river meets the sea. The following morning, 17th February, he rang me from Calicut to say that this river (Krishnamurthy) had merged in divinity. Six years later we met again in Chennai. He was more soft, calm and silent than usual . "Finally, I have completed "Vasthuhara" and it is showing in Kalaivanar Arangam (a theatre in Chennai)... What next? I don't know," he said resignedly. "Uttarayanam" (The Throne of Capricorn), "Kanchana Sita" (Golden Sita, 1977), "Thampu" (The Circus Tent, 1978), "Esthappan" (Stephen, 1980), "Pokkuveyil" (Twilight, 1981), "Chidambaram" (1985) and "Unni" (1989) are his well-discussed films. But after his sudden death in 1991, the discussion has stopped outside Kerala. His death has been a great loss for meaningful cinema. Aravindan (and after him Adoor and others) remained in regional cinema but was discussed universally . "I wanted to make my final film "Vasthuhara" (The Dispossessed) way back in 1975. The story is by the Chidambaram writer C.V.Sreeraman. I couldn't do the film earlier because I didn't have the money to shoot in three different locales - Bengal, Kerala and the Andamans. The film relates a displaced widow's story through her husband's nephew. It's a departure from the rest of my work because it blends political reality with a personal story . But, now I feel, the departure is always a form of mutation. Life is an alchemy of experience." These were his last words to me.