The master speaks

Adoor Gopalakrishnan: `Television programmes are slowly killing the sensitivity of people.' — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

FROM SWAYAMVARAM in 1972 to Nizhalkuthu (Shadow Kill) his last film, Adoor Gopalakrishnan has come a long way. Call him a maker of art films and Adoor will dismiss it instantly. He firmly believes that a film is a film and classifications such as art and commercial are media's creations. This sensitive filmmaker was in Mangalore recently to present the Sandesha awards. His relation with Mangalore is not new. He made a documentary film on Yakshagana in 1974. "I had interacted with Shivarama Karanth and Ku. Shi. Haridasa Bhat of Udupi," he remembers. "Yakshagana as a folk art has broken barriers. It is still admired in Karnataka."

His film Vidheyan was shot in the surroundings of Nelyadi near Mangalore. This outstanding film, based on Paul Zachariah's story, expertly captured the culture of people in border areas.

Ask him why he takes a long break between producing one film and another film. (His first feature film, Swayamvaram, was released in 1972. Kodiyettam followed in 1977, which was after a four-year gap. Then came Elippathayam in 1981 and Mukhamukham in 1984.)

Adoor has a reason: he was going through a financial crisis. He made documentary films for about seven years, and wasn't idling like the world imagined he was. "I mostly write scripts from my own ideas. And every time I have to write a script, it takes a great deal of time."

Adoor also fears that he might repeat himself. "Every time I want my audience to view something which they are not familiar with," says the man who won the British Film Institute Award for Elippathayam. According to him, he is not just trying to tell a story through his movies. "Stories are only an excuse." Unlike several other contemporaries, he is ambiguous about his ideology. Is he a communist sympathiser? "If I am not one, why would I make a film like Mukhamukham? Communism is a great ideology. But nothing remains static." Incidentally, the communists bayed for his blood when he made Mukhamukham, a scathing commentary on them.

Adoor recently lambasted Doordarshan for not giving importance to documentaries, taking the authorities to task for emulating the private television channels in their choice of programmes. Sensationalism has taken prime position in most TV channels, he says. "Television programmes are slowly killing the sensitivity of people."

Adoor, who has won several national awards, said that a film of artistic value and good taste has audience all over the world. "Such films don't die in three months". According to him, a society that does not respect its artistes is a "retarded society".