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'Chayilyam is people's cinema'

Last updated on: December 17, 2012 10:18 IST

'Chayilyam is people's cinema'

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

In the seventies, the avante garde film-maker in Malayalam, the legendary John Abraham, made films with finance collected from a large number of people. For him, cinema was a people's movement. He was perhaps the only Indian film-maker who held this view.

After several decades, a group of young men in Kerala is following in the footsteps of John Abraham.

Their Malayalam film Chayilyam, is one such unique effort. It was selected for the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), Thiruvanathapuram, the Indian Panorama section at the Chennai International Film Festival, the World Competitive section at the Delhi International Film Festival and the Indian Competitive section at the Bengaluru International Film Festival.

 


Image: A scene from Chayilyam


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'Members moved around with buckets and people would donate whatever they chose to'

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Manoj Kana, the director of Chayilyam, says that it took the film society, Neru Films, based in Kozhikode, four years to collect the required Rs 35 lakh from the public to finally make the film.

Manoj Kana is a Kerala State award winning theatre person. He describes how the money was collected.

"At that time, I was doing a one-and-a-half hour solo act about the life of an information technology professional. After the solo act, I would talk to the audience and ask them to contribute to the film which I told them would be their film.

"Members of our film society would then move around with buckets and people would donate whatever they chose to.

"So, for four years, we did this 'bucket collection'."


Image: A scene from Chayilyam


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'In addition to the cash we also collected sets and props from the public'

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Though they collected Rs 35 lakh, the film society still had to take a loan. The completed film cost Rs 50 lakh. It took four years to collect the money but it took Manoj only 22 days to shoot the film.

"In addition to the cash we also collected sets and props from the public. So, in all aspects, Chayilyam is 'people's cinema'," he says.

What does Chayilyam mean?

"The face of a Theyyam dancer was painted red using vegetable dyes. The paint, prepared for every performance, was called chaiyilyam. Today, nobody makes chayilyam; they just go to a shop and buy the colour," the director explained.



Image: A scene from Chayilyam

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'The film is real cinema without any commercial elements'

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"The film depicts various faces painted red, in the lives of different people," says the director. "You see the red of struggle, you see the red in the lives of women at various stages...." 

He emphasises that "This is not 'art cinema,' but real cinema without any commercial elements. To take this film to real people, we have planned to exhibit it in all the villages where we have our theatre groups. We will be touring all over Kerala just as we toured with our plays."

Manoj is positive that people's cinema is a viable model and he will be able to make films in this manner again and again and there will be "people to watch them".


Image: A scene from Chayilyam

Tags: Kerala

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