Skip to main content

The dreamcatchers

We were a bunch. The students from colleges in the neighbourhood. We were unbridled and impetuous as we could be. There were student union activists who set many a tranquil days into raging conflageration. There were brooding loners who would walk by the din as if the world had never been a spectacle. There were loiterers simple and vain. There were kiddos destined for greater futures that had been mapped out and choreographed by their parents. And then there were us, who just happened to be there for no apparent reason. Sure there were thousand other students who looked just like us: in those over crowded buses, "bootilicious" noon shows, among the clamour in mess halls, hostel and along the periphery of life itself.

We ran into each other in some of those happenstances. We met again at Kerala Kalapeetam, a tiny 1200 sq. ft. rendezvous for writers, artists, oglers, pretenders and movie buffs. It used to be a major haunt for the arty intelligentsia in the sleepy town of cochin. Some of the folks I met in that mosquito infested cusbah were Kamala Das, Balachandran Chullikad, his wife Vijayalakshmi (both poets), Ayyapa Panickar and a few other names I don't remember. The enterprise was held together by Kaladharan - he looked like santa and lived in the haunt. Two other art endeavours from Kalapeetam were Cochin Film Society and Little Theatre. Little Theatre later split into too little theatres though. One delved into the Indian aesthetics (Karnabhaaram and other heavy epic based scripts) and other went after woody allen and low-brow enactments of shakespeare plays. Film Society however had more followers, partly due to the fact that local media gave it serious backing and the voluntary efforts of people who had steady job.

Cochin Film society brought a lot movies from all over the world into the town. Sometimes they showed them in theatres, other times they showed them in the public library auditorium. We had Italian film festivel that showcased the neorealists (Desica, Rosellini), Antonioni. We had Hungarian films (Jancso, Istavan Szabo, Gall, Zoltan Fabri), Iranian (French Avante-Garde cinema (Renoir, Godard, Resnais), Polish new-wave cinema (Andrej Wajda, Krystoff Zanussi, Kieslowski), Indian (Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul) and the retrospectives: Bergman, Ghatak, Bimal Roy, Satyajit Rai, John Abraham, Thomas Alia (Cuba), Kurosava, Misoguchi and countless others.

They also let the screening of independent movies by fledgling directors from inside and outside the country, even though the audience could turn hostile sometime. We have seen a girl who showed her longish arty movie getting grilled and booed by the hostile audience who watched it for free. We have seen the unusually huge turn out for Milos Forman's movie Hair. Then there were plenty of short film screenings. Once after the screening of a short film, Kaladharan introduced the director as
Fellini's prodigy and asst. director. He asked for a write-up for press release. I did that with another mate of mine, Rajeev Ravi. He was a generally a mute spectator and together we collected all the brochures and write-up on all the movies ever screened in Film Society. The synopsis had enough sound bytes for us to explore the inner workings of cinema and together we shared this wonderful fascination.

He and I applied for FTII (Film and Television Institute, Pune) after bachelors. Cinematography was his passion and I wanted audiography. However the day we supposed to leave for Pune, I had some serious talk with my parents and realized my journey might just not start then. I bade him farewell and came back with a heavy heart. My path then digressed quite a bit.

Rajeev had his ups and downs. Second year he had an aggravated chemical reaction and spent almost a year in medication at home. But he'd overcome that and on his way to become one of the best cinematographers in India. He did Chandni Bar, Sesham, The Bypass and many more projects on his resume.

I must mention one more dude who made a difference and perhaps threw in a little light. His name is Anup Kurian. Though I have not met or even heard of him before, I felt I know him more than I think I do. He had his school in FTII, but took up a job in IT and later came to US to hunt for the bounty. A short visit of Syamaprasad (renowned malayalam director) to the west coast gave him the nudge he desperately needed. The money that he made in US was enough for a shoestring project and he made Manasarovar. Critic Derek Malcolm after having seen the movie, sought Anup to talk about his movie. In a rare honour to Indian independent movies, `Manasarovar’, a 90-minute feature film in English had been selected to be screened across 35 theatres in UK, starting January 2005, ahead of its India release. He is living up his dream and has done enough to bring a smile on dreamers among us. Let me wind up this meandering of a blog with a few lines from an obscure poet:

It's easy, perhaps to die for a dream
With banners unfurled - and be forgiving!
It's the hardest part to follow the gleam
When scorned by the world - and go on living!

--Myra Brooks Welch

Comments

Rajeev Gopal said…
"There were kiddos destined for greater futures that had been mapped out and choreographed by their parents"

Yup, that was me....destined to be a doctor... the only alternative to being an engineer... and I (my dad in fact) had too many idols to follow...but I revolted in a Gandhian way...by convincing my dad that I cannot do justice to that profession...

And here I am, the Software Doctor...
Anil P said…
To die for a dream is the surest way to give yourself a chance to succeed. Nothing else will possibly work as surely.

Popular posts from this blog

Padmarajan: A Loss in January

[Malayalam Movie director and writer 1945 - 1991]

Padmarajan died in a cold January, untimely. He was in a hotel at calicut, in the middle of a celebration of his latest film Njaan Gandharvan (I, the celestial enchanter), in 1991. It was as if audience of the show was subjected to a dismayed silence, and the show was stalled. I for one who had just begun waking upto adolescence and the charm of his creative genius, felt the void, instantly.

Padmarajan started his career as a writer. Unfortunately I have not read any of his books. I know him from his films. If the literary quality of his films is anything to go by, they must be a world to discover. In fact like most of the films, his first film was based on his own novel Peruvazhiyambalam (The grand roadway Inn, 1979). The movie tore down the mythical fence between popular and art house movies. He pioneered the middle of the road solution for commercially succesfull good films and began a short lived golden period of malayalam films alo…

Kunhunni maash

Kunhunni maash was an archetypal teacher of children and adults who have an open and earnest mind of a child to learn. No one has distilled knowledge and enlightenment to the degree of simplicity that he so effortlessly achieved. It spread like sunshine for decades over many generations of young kids who not only soared in their imagination about the open sky he unleashed, but learned the secrets of goodness and being kind and appreciative of mother earth.

For the twenty years I who read his(Kuttettan) editorial notes and advice to budding writers in the Children's Section (Baala-Pankthi) of Mathrubhumi magazine and having met him under a tree along with other students at school, felt the irrevocable loss of his long shadow. It's not just the charm of old world that is lost; I believe it is more than that. I doubt if we can ever find such fine folks anymore who can clear the gloom and guide your spirit to all that is worthy of life and living.

He was a short man. His poems were …

Ophelia - death by water

One of the most tragic and haunting images from Shakespeare plays that you ever read would be that of Ophelia lying drowned in the still water. She lay in the glassy stream weighed down by the viscous gravity of her tunic, unable to wade through the whirlpool of worldly woes. An image that is so earthy, erotic, deathly and saintly gleaned effortlessly from Gertrude’s soliloquy (from Act 4 Scene 7):

There is a willow grows aslant a brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; There with fantastic garlands did she come Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them: There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke; When down her weedy trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide; And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up: Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a crea…