Raj Nair has a legacy to live. Be it literature or motion pictures, nothing short of sheer brilliance is expected from the grandson of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. But the doctor-turned-filmmaker seems to have his own personal credo when it comes to art. After Punyam Aham, his 2010 film built on the lore of Naranathu Bhrantan, he is gearing up for his next, this time a saga of insanity and love. “Vyadha, my next film, is woven around Naredran, a lower-caste Kathakali artist. This time I am using sort of ‘soul’s play’ as the thread to weave a love story,” he says.
Punyam Aham had Prithviraj and Samvrutha Sunil playing the leads, but this time Raj Nair is on the lookout for a real Kathakali artist. “Kathakali is not a mere backdrop in Vyadha, the film portrays the art form in all its glory and authenticity. There has been many Kathakali films in Malayalam, but an expert can easily spot the mistakes in them. I want Vydha to be error-free and so decided to cast a real artist. I think it will be better than making an untrained actor perform Kathakali on screen. Rest of the cast will be announced soon and the film will be canned in and around Kuttanad,” he says.
Vydha, just like Punyam Aham, will be cutting through the socio-cultural fabric of Kerala, exploring both personal and political spaces. “Punyam Aham had a specific syntax, I used the idiom and flexibility of a dream for the film. The title means limpid souls, a spiritual status. The film was open to mixed responses. Adoor Gopalakrishnan watched it two times and there were people who couldn’t comprehend it. Vydha will be more personal an account,” he explains.
As an expatriate settled in Australia, the filmmaker maintains a strong and perhaps intensely emotional bond with Kerala. “I belong to a generation when we used to convert every memory into images, there was no profusion of visual and print media then.
Today we live in this information superhighway that such things totally go missing. Contemporary Kerala is slowly regressing to some dark past and I think it’s often reflected in everything around us including art. Vyadha will be my own grief mouthed through the hero,” he adds.