KOZHIKODE: Adjudged the state’s second best film this year, Kenjira mirrors the lives of the bruised tribal community of Wayanad. The film also won the top awards for cinematographer Prathap Nair and costume designer Ashokan Alappuzha. Director Manoj Kana’s third feature, Kenjira neither preaches nor offers solutions. But it delineates disturbingly the lives of the most sidelined community, depicting how the state and the mainstream society exploits them in new forms. “The tribes have been physically and culturally evicted from their own land and forest,” says Kana, who lived 23 years at Muthanga among the tribal people.
The real-life story of a 14-year-old Paniya girl impregnated by a landlord in Kodagu, where she had gone for work, triggered the making of Kenjira. When the protagonist returns to her colony with the newborn, neither her lover, Kannan, nor the colony ostracize her. “Father is not the one who impregnates a woman but who rears the child,” is Kannan’s philosophy.
“I found the tribal people’s vision and philosophy towards life rather superior to that of the mainstream society,” says Kana. Barring a few, all actors in Kenjira were the tribal people of Wayanad, with Vinusha playing the title character. The film was selected to the Indian Panorama and to the IFFI in Goa, International Film Festival of Kerala and the Kolkata International Film Festival.