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Ode to nature

G. JAYAKUMAR

R. Sarath's latest film `Bhoomikku Oru Charamageetham' is a poetic expression against the rampant exploitation of nature.



REEL POETRY : R. Sarath

R. Sarath's first film `Sayahnam' won seven State awards and the Indira Gandhi National Award in 2000. This film was followed by `Sthiti' and `Sheelabathi.' He is now working on `Bhoomikku Oru Charamageetham,' a docu-fiction of 40 minutes duration. The film is a visual adaptation of O.N.V. Kurup's poem of the same name, which was first published in 1984. Sarath talks about his latest venture and his films. Excerpts.

What is `Bhoomikku Oru Charamageetham' about?

I would like to call the film a sequel to my previous film `Sheelabathi,' which dealt with man's greed destroying nature. I felt that O.N.V. Kurup's poem could give me a chance to elaborate this point with a sort of poetic freedom. So, I discussed it with O.N.V. sir. At the outset I told him that it would not be an exact reproduction of the poem. But a different visual interpretation without compromising on the basic ideas. He asked me to go ahead. The poem is in its 22nd edition - still it has not lost its relevance, the devastation of nature continues.

I was fortunate that Jolly Zachariah, a reader in Malayalam at Mar Ivanios College who is keenly interested in O.N.V.'s works, came forward to produce the film.

How did you transform the poem from print to celluloid?

I have used images of earth-movers and excavators that dig into the bowels of the earth wreaking havoc in our villages. I fear that in less than 10 years all the hills of Kerala will be flattened. Then there is the character of the girl who sells flowers. She plucks the flowers, unaware of the consequences because it is her livelihood. So, both knowingly and unknowingly we are causing destruction to nature. And nature warns us in the form of natural catastrophes like tsunamis and earthquakes. Still we refuse to learn to control our greed. This film is intended as an eye-opener. We propose to bring it out in CDs and DVDs and show it in schools and colleges all over Kerala.



A scene from `Bhoomikku Oru Charamageetham.'

Who are the main characters in the film?

O.N.V. has an important role in the film as a mute spectator to the exploitation of Mother Earth. He is helpless. Kavya Madhavan's role symbolises the poet's mind. In the film, her name is Kavitha. The poet's pain becomes hers too. The music has been scored by Devarajan master. It is a rare privilege to have both O.N.V. and Devarajan master together. P. Jayachandran and Aparna are the singers.

How did the film `Sayahnam' come about?

India's nuclear test at Pokhran served as a thread and I began to work on it. In other States like Tamil Nadu and elsewhere there were huge protests. But here in Kerala, there was no protest whatsoever. So, I decided to make a film against such a background. I also decided to have a character like E.M.S. in it. Seeing O. Madhavan on stage at VJT Hall in a play, I thought he would be the best person for that role. Even in his seventies he was very active just like E.M.S. was. I spent nearly a year preparing the script. It took 20 days to shoot the film. We were able to produce it on a small budget of just Rs. 14 lakhs.

Were you influenced by any filmmaker or film?

Films like `Piravi' and `Elipathayam' always fascinate me. And `Bicycle Thieves' was one that changed my idea of a film. I have seen it many times.

For a while I worked as an assistant to Shaji N. Karun in `Piravi,' `Swam' and `Vanaprastham.' After that I made a couple of documentaries.

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