KOCHI: The Rahman brothers are ecstatic. Vasanthi, their experimental film that came to fruition after nearly three years of blood and sweat, was just declared the ‘Best Film’ of the year at the 50th Kerala State Film Awards. “We were definitely not expecting this win,” Sajas Rahman told TNIE, as his elder brother Shinos Rahman nodded along. “It came as a pleasant surprise.”Vasanthi is the duo’s second full-length feature film after their critically-acclaimed Kalippaattakkaaran (Toy maker), which was well received at film festival circle across the world.
“The idea for Vasanthi took root after we came across Indira Parthasarathy’s Tamil play Porvai Porthiya Udalgal,” Sajas said. “We are not saying that the play is similar to the film in anyway. But certain thoughts that Porvai... imbibed in us was what eventually evolved into the film. It is a journey that traverses through stage plays, story telling, and a host of male domains in Vasanthi’s life. Swasika did justice to the role wonderfully, as was rightly adjudged the ‘Best Character Actress’,” he said.
Theatre and cinema have historically had a symbiotic relationship, but the link between these two worlds is especially close to the heart for Sajas, who has an extensive theatre background.
He is an alumnus of the School of Drama, Thrissur, and has directed several plays before venturing into the world of films. Shinos, on the other hand, is a video editor, who has bagged prestigious awards including the Balan K Nair Memorial Award and the AKPA Best Editor Award.
A bone to pick
All that said, the duo still has a bone to pick with the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy. As is the case with many independent filmmakers and technicians of Malayalam cinema, Shinos and Sajas Rahman continue to question the academy’s tendency to sideline off-beat and experimental films.
It is over this contention that they had teamed up with a number of like-minded filmmakers, technicians, critics, and cine artistes last year to form the ‘Movement of Independent Cinema’ collective, ahead of the International Film Festival of Kerala 2019.
“We are not saying that films from the supposed parallel stream don’t get recognised at all. In fact, many of the films that won awards this year were by independent filmmakers. Kani Kusruti won the ‘Best Actress Award’ for her performance in Biriyaani, which is an indie film. So is Kenjira’, the Second Best Film this year. But it’s almost always just a balancing act.
The jury ends up giving half of the awards to mainstream films, and then hand over a few to experimental movies so that this tendency won’t be questioned. This is what we are raising our voice against,” Shinos said.
As is expected considering the Covid-19 situation in the state, Vasanthi may soon be available on an OTT platform. “We have not decided anything yet and are still in talks. But it is most likely to be released on
an online platform,” Shinos said.