Living a legacy on screen

Babu Thaliath says he will love to organise small groupings of film lovers in Kerala.

Babu Thaliath says he will love to organise small groupings of film lovers in Kerala.  

: Certain passions, like those that are genetically inherited, die hard. As people flit through many obsessions at different points in life, the embers of such enduring legacies keep them fired up and going. The winding path of Babu Thaliath's life is a case in point.

He was just a three-year-old when his mother, yesteryear heroine Miss Kumari, died in 1969. Years later, Mr. Thaliath graduated in civil engineering, earned a Masters in German literature from the Jawaharlal Nehru University followed by a doctorate in German philosophy from the Albert-Ludwigs-University at Freiburg in Germany and is now pursuing a post-doctoral degree in the philosophy of science at St Edmund's College in Cambridge.

He may, however, soon be associated with a European film project on the last phase of the ‘Spanish reconquista' — the Christian Reconquest of Spain that ended in 1492 — as its scriptwriter.

“As a child, I had watched my mother's films at a cinema hall at Bharananganam [his mother's native place where the Thaliath siblings were brought up by their maternal uncles and an aunt]. However, this grew into an avid preoccupation in the mid 1980s when as an engineering student in Thiruvananthapuram I got associated with film societies. This was followed by a stint with the affordable housing projects of Costford, but soon I was at the Film and Television Institute in Pune to undergo their film appreciation course,” Mr. Thaliath recalled his life's journey after screening Jean-Luc Godard's ‘Contempt' at the Nanappa Art Gallery here on Thursday.

He owes it to one of his guides, Gottfried Boehm, a disciple of noted philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, at the University of Basel in Germany, for gifting him with a discerning eye for the fleeting images, nudging him to watch the classics created by the likes of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Having lived in Europe for so long mulling over literature and philosophies (his post-doctoral work is on the early modern natural philosophy), Mr. Thaliath has evolved a keen interest in the intriguing politics of intercultural exchanges and the political dimensions of people's relations. He also heads a project of the Max Planck Institute for the history of sciences in Germany on the ‘Globalisation of knowledge in early colonial era in India' with a group of scholars from around the world to document the philological, scientific, linguistic and historical legacy left by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French in India. Mr. Thaliath has also authored two books in German on philosophy.

“In the meantime, I may take the plunge into films; that is European cinema, as they fascinate me no end. I would also love to do my bit to organise small groupings of film lovers in Kerala to rekindle the film society movement,” he said.

Babu Thaliath, son of yesteryear heroine

Miss Kumari, is a

scholar who is passionate about cinema.

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