Aravindan’s ‘Thampu’ to be screened at Cannes, actors hail his masterclass
Back then, she was just a 16-year-old girl with dreamy eyes.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Back then, she was just a 16-year-old girl with dreamy eyes. It was to be her debut film. 44 years down the line, she’s all set to relive the same excitement once again. Yesteryear heroine Jalaja fondly recalls her nervous excitement on being part of the 1978 Malayalam classic ‘Thampu’, a restored version of which will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday in the Classic Session.
The film starring Bharath Gopi, Nedumudi Venu, Jalaja and V K Sreeraman, among others, was yet another offering of minimalistic brilliance by movie-maestro G Aravindan to movie buffs. The cinematographer for the movie was none other than Shaji N Karun who later rose to join the ranks of notable filmmakers from Kerala. The film was shot on the Bharathapuzha bank at Thirunavaya that straddles Kozhikode and Malapuram districts. The story revolves around a travelling circus company that camps at a village and the events that unfold.
Even decades later, each frame at the shooting locale comes alive in the mind’s eye of actor V K Sreeraman. “The shooting was more of a confluence of friends, artists and villagers, for whom the entire process was more of an unusual spectacle that had somehow nudged its way into their hearts,” he shares.
Speaking to TNIE, Jalaja reminisced how it was the late Nedumudi Venu who introduced her to Aravindan.
“Being an offbeat movie, its making too was a bit different. The director intended to keep the dialogues to the bare minimum. That Aravindan was able to successfully translate the cinematic vision he had onto the big screen is in itself an ode to his directorial magic,” says Jalaja, unable to hide the awe in her voice even after 44 years of the movie’s release.
Jalaja has already reached Cannes accompanied by her daughter Devi. Movie’s producer Raveendranath Nair’s son, Prakash R Nair, and filmmaker-cum-archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur who worked hard to restore the film will also attend the upcoming world premiere of the movie on Saturday. In his interaction with TNIE, actor Sreeraman says that the film has grown on him over the years. “In a way, the movie is also a reflection on the silent persona of the auteur himself.
A deeper reading of the film tends to shed light on Aravindan’s life. We cannot help but wonder how this silent individual has so many friends. How exactly does he communicate with them? The movie could well be a dispassionate translation of his life. He’s like a passive, detached observer who sees and experiences everything, but remains static, while allowing all to flow through him. Even love expressed as well as reciprocated is a passive affair here,” is how Sreeraman chooses to read the movie.
‘Thampu’ now rechristened as ‘Thamp’ is the ninth Malayalam movie to be screened at Cannes.