The faded-white mustache on Kittettan’s dusky face curls just beneath his set mouth. The hollow cheeks are etched with deep-written lines that imply the years of toil he spent on Manathana soil. With faltering strides and impervious tenacity this 85-year-old ploughs the land that he calls his own. Nonetheless, like many others in this small hamlet in Kannur, this 85-year-old man’s life is in a quandary today, says ‘Kunnolam’, a documentary directed by Dawn Antony.
‘Kunnolam’, What the hills say in silence, is a lamentation of a languishing hill and its inhabitants.
Foreseeing the disappearance of Kottakkunnu, the only water-giving hillock in the area, with the constant laterite stone mining, Dawn and his friends set about to make the locals aware of the issue. With spellbinding visuals, and enlightening narrative, Kunnolam takes you for a spin around Kottakkunnu. On a one-day journey through the lives of Manathana inhabitants, Dawn lets the viewers to delve deep into the issue. ‘Kunnolam’ has also been selected to show at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala 2013 (IDSFFK) in the national competition section.
Dawn Antony started his celluloid journey in 2009, when he was still in his school uniforms, today this 22-year-old has two documentaries in his kitty with both garnering recognition around the state. From social-stigmas to environmental crisis this youngster handles serious issues that would bring major changes in our society.
“We should adapt a sustainable lifestyle not sustainable development, which is not just people-centered but is also considerate to each and every form of life co-existent in this planet. In the case of Kottakkunnu, it is the only water source in the area, and it has much historical relevance as well. It says that Kottakkunnu had a fort which was used by Pazhassi Raja and his men during their fight against British. Though there’s nothing that proves this claim, from its name itself Kottakkunnu signifies this. Today, Manathana, the little village around this area is facing a dearth of water due to constant mining,” says Dawn.
Dawn’s first documentary ‘Jalaayanam’ was taken up by Kerala University for their BA Malayalam syllabus and included it in their environmental studies. Jalaayanam, which dealt with another socially and environmentally-relevant issue around Kannur, was a team effort of ten youngsters from his school.
“Kottiyoor temple is quite famous around the state. Bavali River, which flows between the temple was facing destruction when we were studying in plus one. We, the NSS unit in the school, wanted to do something about it. In two or three notebooks ten of us wrote down all the research we had done. We found out from where the river originates. Thus we made Jalaayanam,” says Dawn.
The plus one students did not have any prior experience with camera or filmmaking. All they had was the fervour and mind to do something for the river and with that make a difference to the society. They approached an amateur yet experienced filmmaker from the area, Jithu Kolayadu, for some hands on advice. When he saw the collected materials with them he offered his service on camera. Jalaayanam was noticed by social workers as well as ardent film lovers from the area and thus a young filmmaker was born.
“We were quite new to filmmaking. That was the year two teachers from our school conducted a film and documentary festival at our school. That was quite a novel experience. The documentaries we saw at the festival gave us a vague idea of how to go about movie making,” says Dawn.
Though there were many technical errors in their first venture, Dawn and his team managed to rectify them in his Kunnolam.
Dawn, a talented photographer himself, is quite adept about his visuals. With Jithu Kolayadu handling camera and Nithin Sivaraman at its music Kunnolam boasts of stunning visuals and a pertinent background score. Sreedevi Narayanan and Dawn had written the script while the editing was done by Anu Kamala. Dawn dedicates the name he gained from ‘Kunnolam’ to ‘Kottakkunnu Eco-heritage Protection Forum’.
Today, Dawn is all set to give answers to the query, “What is development if it means being witness to the erosion of a whole bio-rich-world that you were born into?” Let us hope he succeeds in his endeavour.