When the 62nd National Film Awards were announced over a month ago, Joshy Mangalath felt elated. The National Award for Best Screenplay (adapted) had paid off his efforts in penning ‘Ottal’, directed by Jayaraj.
For Joshy, ‘Ottal’ was an ode to the children who live on the fringes of society.
“Layers down the movie, which narrated the tale of a deep bond between a child and his grandfather, there is an underlying message on how children are often exploited and sidelined in our society. ‘Ottal’ is a message against child labour,” says Joshy Mangalath, who works as a HR manager in Dubai.
According to him, the seed for ‘Ottal’ was laid when director Jayaraj who read Joshy’s earlier work, suggested adapting Anton Chekov’s ‘Vanka’.
“In fact, I was under so much pressure because adapting a monumental writer’s work is a huge challenge. But, the National Award has made me confident,” says Joshy.
‘Ottal’ narrates the tale of a young Kuttappayi and his grandfather Vallyappachayi. Kuttappayi is separated from his grandfather and the harsh realities he faces creates in him a strong urge to get back to Kuttanad, his home. He writes to his grandfather and awaits his reply.
“’Ottal’ is a trap used for fishing in Kuttanad. It is also a well-crafted metaphor on how the children are trapped in our society,” he adds.
‘Ottal’ wining the Best Film on Environment Conservation is like an icing on the cake for Joshy, who claims to be an environmentalist.
“The movie brings alive the picturesque Kuttanad. We wanted it to be a tribute to nature conservation. I had scripted another work titled ‘Kuthirachandran’ in which nature was an important element. Jayaraj liked it and asked me to work for ‘Ottal’ on the same lines. As much as ‘Ottal’ is about human life, it is also about nature,” says Joshy.
“Everybody has a role in protecting nature. As an aspiring writer, I wish to moot the need for environment conservation. While setting ‘Ottal’ in Kerala context, we had no doubts about where to centre it. I spent a part of my life in Kuttanad and so the place is always engraved in my mind,” says the writer.
Joshy’s another script ‘Kuthirachandran’ also revolves around nature. “Jayaraj was impressed with the script but we needed a very strong cast for the movie. We will think of the movie once everything falls in place,” says Joshy.