THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Making a documentary on sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman was more of a personal affair for Nemom Pushparaj. While pursuing bachelors degree in Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts in the city, he was among the fortunate few who could learn the lessons of sculpting right from the master. “I observed closely the sculptures he made during those times. I got to watch the sculpting methods from close quarters. No other artist would have made that many sculptures in India, especially in public places,” says Nemom Pushparaj. So he did not have to think twice to undertake the assignment of making the documentary from the Information and Public Relations department.
When asked about the influence of the personal relation in the making of film he said, “our relation is such that so many open-hearted chats happened between us. So the information included in the documentary are from the several conversations we had at various times. Besides, it also includes the third person account from my part.” Through out the journey, Kanayi was with the film making team so that the crew never had the feel of staying away from the subject.
In their journey together, he says, Kanayi was a jubilant man who cracked jokes and made everyone happy. But he remembers one moment that stands out while they set out to shoot ‘Yakshi’, the first sculpture made by him at Malampuzha in Palakkad in 1969. After watching ‘Yakshi’, the crew observed that the happy man immediately switched himself into silence. “It was after 42 years that he was seeing Yakshi again. On continuous probing, he opened up his mind and it was the negligence shown in maintaining the structure that hurt its creator,” says Pushparaj. ‘Yakshi’ was subjected to scathing criticism from various corners for the iconoclastic approach adopted by the artist in the portrayal. Therefore, while shooting Yakshi, Pushparaj and crew created fire encircling the structure and also made artificial showers to show how the sculpture withstood them.
The highlight of the 30-minute documentary ‘Shilpa Kalayude Naalam Maanam’ (fourth dimension of sculpture), is that it literally covers the life of the sculptor from all possible dimensions. Though he attained popularity as a sculptor, in the documentary, his life gets unfurled through his paintings and poetry too. His works that were not widely talked about are included in the film.
Therefore, many things that were left unnoticed about the artist too are covered in it. From the technical side, Pushparaj has hired a 40-feet high jib arm crane ‘Jimmy Jib’ to provide a bird’s eye view of the sculptures. His well-acclaimed works including Yakshi and ‘Sagarakanyaka’ at Sanghumugham, were shot using Jimmy Jib crane that absorbed the artsy elements to the fullest. The background score is set by Pandit Ramesh Narayanan.
After finishing the documentary, Pushparaj wrote a book on Kanayi, ‘Brihadakarangalude Shilpi’ that was published by the State Institute of Languages in 2012.