‘For the unaffected, wars are merely a source of entertainment,’ says National Award-winning director Dr Biju on his anti-war film Adrishya Jalakangal

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Very few people have an ambiguous way of looking at things. Some treat wars like a cricket match, without considering the outcome or the suffering it causes, and treat cricket like a war, forgetting that it is only a game. When there is news of tension between countries, few suggest war as a solution, sharing their views from the comfort of their homes far away from the border. In fact, even our films glorify wars and do not shed much light on what happens to civilians during and after these violent wars.

National Award Winning Director Dr. Bijukumar Damodaran Tovino Thomas-Starrer Adrishya Jalakangal (Invisible Windows) It is an anti-war film with magical facts.

“Adrishya Jalakangal stands out from the films we are used to. It embodies a magical realism that is not commonly seen in Malayalam cinema. The specific location of the story is irrelevant; The narrative and characters are created in a way that makes the events believable anywhere in the world. While one may have come across people who resemble the characters in this film, Adricia Jalakangal’s story resonates with the social conditions of any country. Incorporating realistic and magical realist elements enriches the overall narrative,” says Dr. Biju. Indian Express.

Elaborating on the theme of the film, Dr. Biju said, “Keralites or South Indians, in general, have not experienced war directly. Even large-scale communal violence was rare here, except for certain regional incidents. Therefore, we are not familiar with the aftermath of wars. However, whenever a war breaks out in any part of the world, it affects that society greatly. Unfortunately, when we look at such conflicts from this side, they can only be seen as a source of entertainment. However, this is not the reality. It is the common people who bear it in times of war, impending war, or communal upheaval. The worst affected are women, children and marginalized people. Adricia Jalakangal is made from this angle with the intention of showing how wars affect common people without any rights.

Watch Adrishya Jalakangal trailer here:

A three-time National Film Award winner and winner of several international awards, the title of his films is the first draw for the audience. Among his most admired works are Veettilekkulla Vazhi (The Beginning of the Road), Perariathavar (Untitled), Valiya Chirakula Pakishikal (Birds with Big Wings), Kadu Pukkuna Neeram (When the Forest Blooms), Sound of Silence, Veilmarangal (Trees Under the Sun). ) and now Adrishya Jalakangal (Invisible Windows), which had its world premiere at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival (TBNIFF) in Estonia.

Holiday discount

When asked how he comes up with these names for his projects, Dr. Biju said, “Titles are usually at the writing stage. For Periyathavar, I decided on the title after finishing the script and considering other options. On the other hand, Akasatinthe Niram (Colour of the Sky) and Vetilekkula Vazhi had titles from the very beginning. When we brainstorm a story, write it, or finish the writing process, a name comes to us. The title is crucial to paint a clear picture of the film and pave the way for the film. Take Adrishya Jalakangal for example. Windows are visible entities, and in fact, there are no invisible windows. An invisible window suggests a magical reality or a realistic concept. Such a title helps us to easily immerse ourselves in the world of the film. Personally, I believe titles should suit the film and have a poetic touch.

The first look posters of Tovino Thomas, who has done an impressive turn in the lead role, have grabbed attention with the first look posters of Adricia Jalakangal. However, discussions about Tovino’s appearance were so intense that such appearances were not uncommon. Therefore, we thought it only fair to ask Dr. Biju whether discussions about appearance are problematic in themselves. Agreeing to this, Biju says, “His appearance in the film reflects the sentiments of many people we meet in our society. This got a lot of attention because it was the first time that Tovino had undergone such a significant physical change. But in the film his character is portrayed as an everyday working class man.

On black fishing

Similarly, in recent years, many films have faced criticism for casting fair-skinned actors and portraying characters with darker skin tones. As Tovino’s situation here shares some similarities, we have discussed this aspect with Biju. “While criticism may be directed at Adricia Jalakangal, the situation here is different. Black fishing is really different. For example, in a biopic or film featuring a famous character with an established black identity, casting a fair-skinned actor for such a role can indeed be tantamount to black fishing. It is not appropriate to choose a white or fair skinned actor, change their appearance to black and cast them Nelson Mandela or Ayyankali. “Black fishing occurs when actors of the opposite skin color are cast to portray real historical characters or literary characters with clearly defined black identities,” he said.

“However, Tovino’s character in Adrishya Jalakangal is completely fresh. It is not based on any real life people or literary characters. When introducing such new and imaginative characters, it is acceptable to use any actor who changes their appearance. Also, given the high budget required for a film of this scale, especially for a film in Malayalam cinema, it would be important to cast an actor with significant market value. Unfortunately, a dark-skinned actor of such marketability is not available in Malayalam these days, which has led to selection from the existing pool of actors,” added the director.

On its central characters and the ‘Pan-India’ phenomenon

Boasting a remarkable performance by the filmmaker, the unique characteristic of many of the central characters is their desire to discover their true purpose. Commenting on the same, Dr. Bijum said: “With a few exceptions, most of my central characters belong to marginalized communities. Although the central characters are not from these communities, the story/plot unfolds in marginalized settings. Hence, many characters in my films do not have names. This choice was made not for the sake of poetry, but to emphasize that these marginalized straws do not even have an identity due to their origin without any special privileges. An identity crisis that reflects challenges in the real world is a critical issue. So, my ongoing endeavor is to portray the lives of people struggling with identity crises on screen.

Malayalam cinema, like its regional counterparts, has steadily penetrated the common people rooted in their locality. However, in our quest to create formulaic ‘pan-India’ films, there is a legitimate concern that we are sacrificing our unique voice. Biju, however, insists that the films we label as ‘pan-India’ are not representative of Indian culture. “Nowadays, films labeled as ‘Pan-India’ are mainly those that have wide releases and have achieved significant box office success across the country. However, this label is not assigned to them based on cultural themes or aesthetics. Films like Baahubali and KGF, though commercially successful, resemble old classics like Sholay and don’t necessarily represent cross-cultural India. True ‘pan-India’ films are those that tell stories that relate to all places and people in the country. For example, Satyajit Ray’s films, especially Pather Panchali (1955), remain relevant even today because of their examination of social realities and their timeless narrative. Unfortunately, these authentic Indian films often have limited releases.

on Malayalam cinema

Responding to a question about the current status and quality of Malayalam films, Dr. Biju said: “In my opinion, we now approach Malayalam cinema from only one perspective – how many people a film entertains in theatres. Entertainment has many forms. Huge and surreal films like Baahubali and KGF fascinate us with their scale, films like these Prison guard It lures audiences in by showing images of mass violence. The third category consists of small films that we produce in the Malayalam industry, which are family-oriented and feature comedy moments.

“In the midst of this (focus on entertaining people in theatres), we seem to be neglecting the production of experimental, political or socially critical films. Currently, such films are either not made or if they are, they are difficult to get accepted in theaters. Consider the work of filmmakers like Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Alejandro González Iñárritu, or Bela Tarer—they create socially relevant films with aesthetic and artistic flair, and these films still do well commercially.

Here, however, films that question social realities or have a political tone struggle to secure theater space. There has been a big change in our movie-going culture, where we now mainly look for small ‘fun’ movies and often ignore those with deep and thought-provoking themes. Unfortunately, we have yet to develop a movie-going culture that extends beyond entertainment. Malayalees don’t seem to fully understand how to watch and appreciate beautiful and artistic films,” concludes Dr. Biju.

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