Writer-activist K J Baby had always empathised with the tribals who had lost their identities when the 'civilised world' encroached.
In his eyes, the children were the worst affected-caught in the middle as they were, with neither tradition to fall back upon nor the advantages of mainstream society to look forward to. But today, Kanavu (dream), the school he set up, is helping them rise above oppression and marginalisation to assert their individuality.
Baby moved to Wyanad district in Kerala in the early 1970s. Living among the tribals and experiencing their rich repository of songs, myths and art forms, awoke the writer in him. He wrote his first play, Apoorna in late 70s followed by Nadugaddika in 1982. His first novel Mavelimantram won him the Sahitya Academy award.
Guda is his first feature film.
Guda - 2003
Guda, set in the language of the 'Kattunaikkars', revolves around the story of a tribal girl's 'Thirandu kalyanam' (ceremonies in connection with the attainment of puberty). The ceremonies involve putting the tribal girl inside a hut that looks like a cage.
Lechu, a 13-year old girl, has come of age, but does not want to go through the ritual isolation in the "guda", and the celebration that follows. 'I will not be in the guda, like a caged bird' she says and rebels. But the girl is confined in the 'guda' and has to remain confined in the 'guda', till her parents and elders can organise the money for the celebration. The girl's stay is prolonged for a year. Lechu's only contact with the outside world is through her friend, Nannaru.
Baby's daughter, Santhi, dons the role of the tribal girl. The cast includes 48 students, including tribal and non-tribal, from the 'Kanavu' at Nadavayal in Wayanad district. These tribal children also assisted him in making the film.
Direction & Screenplay: K J Baby