The big first step

A scene from the film `Ente Kochu Kauthukam.'

A scene from the film `Ente Kochu Kauthukam.'  

IT WOULD be like a homecoming for Sabu James when the Cochin Film Society screens his debut directorial venture at the Savitha Theatre on Sunday. He was a former member of the Society and "still interested in being part of its activities," as he put it.

His first film, `Ente Kochu Kauthukam' (I am curious), won the Film Critic's award for best children's film this year. Though not marked for commercial release, he has plans to show it around through film societies and festivals. So it is natural that the premiere of the film happens at the Cochin Film Society.

The Society, as editor of its newsletter `Sequences' notes, has always supported new directors and their works. It has another stake in this film; one of the lead actresses in the film is a product of the acting camp conducted by the Society. Incidentally, Chandra Mohan, who led this camp, is also playing an important character in this film.

"The film was triggered by the news of children of expatriates returning home unaccompanied from war-affected West Asian countries," said Mr. James. The protagonist of the film, Priya, comes to her grandparents, alone from Kuwait as her parents were denied permission to leave after the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Priya finds a friend in Manu, her neighbour. Manu, and his sister Manju are also in a similar situation, they are living with their grandparents and parents are working in the U.S. The film evolves over a period of 12 days, starting with a Maundy Thursday, when Priya meets Manu.

Together, they explore the village and church as they prepare for their first communion.

As the local belief goes, they plant a Indian liquorice, `kunni' as it is called in Malayalam, which would ensure their life-long friendship if it sprouts in a week's time. Just before Priya leaves for Kuwait, it does. It is also time for Manu and Manju to fly. But the hope to meet again and memories of a new, colourful relation lingers.

Shot in just about 10 days and completed over 10 months on a shoe-string budget, the film brings in Mr. James experience as a cinematographer. He learnt the art from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and worked as assistant to Sunny Joseph in the film `Train to Pakistan'. He has also cranked the camera for a couple of ad-films and documentaries.

The Society has also organised a post-film interaction with Mr. James, who has also done the script and lyrics for the film, besides handling the camera and producing it. It is truly a one-man effort.

By Anand Haridas

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