interview: g aravindan



ORIDATHU:


The theme of this film is the electrification of a village and the changes this introduces in the village. Is it in any way a statement on modernity or mechanisation?
What the film underlines is the necessity for basic ethical premises, whatever one is engaged in. The film strictly is not on the effects of modernity or modern technology. This is just incidental - the theme could be anything. In this instance the overseer is a man without any scruples - and that is the central point.

What the film underlines is the necessity for basic ethical premises, whatever one is engaged in. The film strictly is not on the effects of modernity or modern technology. This is just incidental - the theme could be anything.




















The film seems to be more allegorical. Many people work towards the electrification of the village apart from the overseers. So how is it that the ethical issue becomes only that of the overseer?
Everything in the village happens according to the scheming of the overseer who manipulates for his personal interests.

This film is very humorous compared to your other films.
There is an element of caricature in all the characters. A little exaggeration and lot of humour was consciously introduced to make effective the last sequence, which is the explosion. In fact the whole film moves towards the climax - the clash on the day of the festival and the breaking out of the fire.

The film begins and ends with a festival.
The film begins with a festival in the temple (this happens before work begins for the electrification) The festival does not come up to the expectation of the villagers. According to the belief in the village, if the temple festival does not do well, the Poorum festival will be a great success. The film ends with the celebration of Poorum.

This is a film where you have used the maximum number of shots.
ORIDATHU is complex in that it has many characters and many incidents and therefore does not have a single motif - the usual type of music is also absent. I worked with a cinematic form, which could engage the audience, for which I had to use more shots taken from different angles. This is also a film where I have used the sounds of the incidents to the maximum.

Why did you use a Trivandrum accent for the overseer, Sundaresan (Nedumudi Venu)? Was there not sufficient comedy in the film without this element?
I have used different dialects used in Malayalam, for example the villagers speak pure Valluvanadan Malayalam of South Malabar, the fake Doctor uses Travancore Malayalam etc.

The setting of this story is between 1952-55. Is not the portrayal of the communist in the film a little out of place and also a little unbelievable?
A bit of caricaturing is done of this character also. Yet someone like him lived in my village too. Some one who believed that everything that happened and is happening in Russia is great-like the bridges they build, their hydro-electrical projects etc - and worthy of being emulated. Many have reacted violently to this portrayal. It is really sad that when the Russians themselves are re-evaluating their politics and practices we react badly even to a joke! I have sought to portray this character positively as someone who is concerned about society.

How was this film received outside Kerala and abroad?
On the whole the response was good. The film has gone for the maximum number of film festivals and everywhere has received a positive response.

We can relate this film to the electricity problem we are facing in the country. A nuclear power plant is going to be established in Koodamkulam near Nagar Koil. Some say it is good and some consider it is bad. What do you think of it?
My opinion is that nuclear power is dangerous. However it is not only nuclear power plants, but the entire trend in science and technology which is negative. The question is how do you perceive development. What is 'development'? The problem is of how you handle the process of development. Though concepts like "small is beautiful" etc. have existed, people are more conscious about it these days. Countries like Japan are also trying to contain 'progress' and people are giving more time to leisure. The business establishments spend a lot of money for creative works like theatre, paintings etc.

ORIDATHU is discussing a serious issue, but I have a feeling the treatment of it is very simplistic....
I will not debate that.

Recently a lot of offbeat films were received well in Kerala - ORIDATHU, ANANTHARAM of Adoor Gopalakrishnan etc. What do you think of it?
This is a very local trend, which perhaps is also there in Bengal, where a number of filmmakers and film societies make films and have discussions on new cinema.



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