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Vilakudy Days

Friday, September 09, 2005



By Vilakudy

When first-time director Blessey was filming Kazcha in the verdant backwaters of Alappuzha, he was actually swimming against the tide. The Malayalam film industry was then blindly aping its counterparts in the neighbouring states. But thanks to Kazcha, which tells the story of an orphaned boy’s encounter with a village cinema projector, the tide has turned in good cinema’s favour. Released in August, Kazcha has won rave reviews and is a runaway hit, thanks mainly to its star Mammooty. “Mammukka’s (as Mammooty is fondly called) positive reaction to the script gave me confidence. Not only did he agree to act, but he also wanted me to write the script,” says Blessey. And after many years, the Malayalees have taken a movie into their hearts. “Yes. That was exactly what I wanted. To bring back the family audience to theatres. Bring back the discerning audience.” Blessey was assistant to an array of directors for 16 long years before he himself became one. He says, “My apprenticeship under the late Padmarajan (a rage in Kerala, remembered for his screenplays) was the best.” That — and his being a voracious reader, a fan of R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days and Malayalam writer N S Madhavan’s When Big Trees Fall — is probably why a man who had “not even written anything in a college magazine” finished half his script in just five days. Today, the script of Kazcha has been made into a book even before the film completed 50 days, a first in Malayalam cinema history. Critics and the common man alike have seen shades of Padmarajan in Kazcha, in the brilliant characterisations of Mammooty and Yash (the boy). Blessey says this is a huge compliment, but denies imitating the master. “It’s not imitation. There was never a deliberate attempt to copy him. Maybe, it comes naturally.” Or maybe from his meticulous preparation. For Kazcha, he made all the artists attend a five-day workshop, even shooting many scenes then for the perfection he wanted, something unprecedented in Kerala. So does he identify himself as a serious filmmaker? “I am for good cinema. Let there be no classifications. Actually, I am against the whole concept of art films. The so-called advocates of art cinema have spoiled films and the industry. They kept the audience away by making complicated movies that people could not understand.” Instead, he adores Satyajit Ray for his “perfection”, Akira Kurosowa for his “depiction of strong cultural stories”, Bharathiraja for “the folk-ish images” and the “great Padmarajan for everything he did”. Blessey’s challenge now is living up to the reputation of his first film. The famous poet Balachandran Chullikkadu told him, “Your first movie will be your biggest enemy.” Two months from now, he will be working on his next project. Let the poet’s words not be prophetic.

Published in a leading newspaper's Sunday edition on December 3, 2004.


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