Stranger than fiction: Kerala prisoner pens movie script from jail

A native of Irinjalakkuda, Sha was found guilty for a murder during a temple festival 30 years ago.

Published: 26th August 2022 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2022 01:27 PM   |  A+A-

Sha Thachillam, right, with  film director Chidambaram Palaniyappan

Express News Service

THRISSUR: Ekan Anekan, a movie based on his script will release soon, but Sha Thachillam is not excited at all. For, his life has been stranger than fiction. His mind is preoccupied with the thought of returning to the Cheemeni open prison in Kasaragod where he has been spending the past decade of his life, having convicted for a murder.

A native of Irinjalakkuda, Sha was found guilty for a murder during a temple festival 30 years ago. Though the sessions court acquitted him, the Kerala High Court sentenced him to life term in prison. After two years’ stay in the Viyyur central prison, Sha was shifted to Cheemeni jail in 2011 considering his behaviour and mental health. In 2018, as a part of ‘Transition through Creation’ project of Cheemeni jail, 21 inmates were selected for a filmmaking training workshop. Chidambaram Palaniappan was the trainer. He has directed Ekan Anekan.

“Out of the 21 attendees at the workshop, Sha took extra interest and went on to do a short film in the jail with the help of warden and other officers. His passion made me take him in the Ekan Anekan team. The movie deals with custodial torture and is based on Sathankulam incident. It is taken in such a way that the same incident is perceived from different angles. Eight people including Sha have written its script,” said Chidambaram.

Physics grad to jail inmate
At 50, Sha finds his life totally uncertain. “The murder was an accident,  happened in the rage of young mind. When the sessions court had freed me, I became optimistic and worked hard for a government job. When I was put back in jail following the High Court order, two appointment orders --- for the posts of excise guard and KSRTC clerk --- came in search of me,” he said. During his days in Viyyur, Sha had written four-line poems and sent them to a friend on postcards. They later got published as a collection under the title ‘Thadavarayile Dhyana Nimishangal’.

He is not sure if he would write a script again but if he does, Cheemeni jail and its people could form its subject. The Cheemeni jail authorities were criticised for organising the filmmaking workshop for inmates.“They spent `3 lakh on the workshop. The officials were asked why such a huge amount was spent for the inmates whose release from the prison remains uncertain. Even if we come out of the jail, there is no guarantee that we pursue filming, which might have added to the worry of the officials,” he added.
Sha said if he gets remuneration for the script, he along with the other 20 workshop attendees, would pay back the sum to the jail authorities.



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