FRIDAY REVIEW

The wails we missed!

ANUJ KUMAR

FOR A FRESH ANGLE Kunju Mohammed in New Delhi. Photo: S. Subramanium

FOR A FRESH ANGLE Kunju Mohammed in New Delhi. Photo: S. Subramanium  

Since "Garam Hawa", Partition has provided many a script to cinema but most of the time, it's the plight of the North Indians that has found the focus.

Now Malayalam filmmaker Kunju Mohammed is working on a project focussing on the trials and tribulations faced by the Malabar Muslims who migrated to Karachi before partition.

"It is about how the India-Pakistan partition affected Kerala - an issue that is hardly ever discussed. In the 1930s and 40s several people, most of whom were bidi workers and tea makers migrated to Karachi for better economic prospects. But once India became independent, they lost their nationality. They have been facing passport problems both in India and Pakistan. Their immediate society accepts them but the country at large or the Government doesn't feel for these marginalised people. The issue has been raised in the Parliament but nothing has come forth."

Aptly called "Paradeshi" (The Wanderer), the film, says Mohammed, captures the plight of one such family in present day India. The filmmaker, in Delhi recently on his way to Myanmar where he is going in hunt of some locations, is not in a mood to reveal too much. Mohammed says he has finalised Khushboo as the female lead. Meanwhile, rumour mills suggest Mohanlal is going to do the male lead.

Ask him why Malayalam film industry is known for just two actors Mohanlal and Mamoothy, Mohammed maintains this has been the trend.

"Earlier there were Satyan and Prem Nazir, now there are Mohanlal and Mamoothy. Though a new crop of actors is emerging."

Talking about Malayalam cinema, which has hardly been swayed by the Bollywood breeze, Mohammed says it has been able to carve its identity but at the same time was influenced too much by false post-modernist ideas, which never touched the lives of the people. "We lost touch with ground realities, our local issues. And I don't blame others. I was also among them. Now I know I was wrong."

Elaborating further, he says a section of filmmakers (including the new wave that emerged in the 1970s in Calcutta and Bombay) got too much inspired by European ideas and cinema, instead of developing their own language of expression.

"There is nothing wrong in getting inspired. In most of the fields we have followed the West, but there has to be a natural evolution. You just can't expect the common man to understand Goddard because you love his thought."

Somebody who is not all too happy with youngsters like Jeyaraj who manage to mix art and commerce successfully, he agrees directors do see the world through their eyes, but adds, "the perspective should be such that you could read it through my effort. This, however, doesn't mean you compromise on the art. I think the solution lies in addressing local issues in the common man's language."

Hope "Paradeshi" will bridge the intellectual divide.

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