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Book Review: Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema

books Updated: Sep 27, 2010 16:48 IST
Derek Malcolm
Derek Malcolm
Hindustan Times
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Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema

By Gautaman Bhaskaran
Penguin/Viking, Rs 599

Adoor Gopalakrishnan is not the easiest of subjects for any biographer. He is an intensely private man whose outstanding work over three decades does not always reveal its secrets easily.

Gautaman Bhaskaran's A Life in Cinema

delves into the man and the films with an enthusiasm and respect. We learn more about the work, generally from the director's mouth itself, and about the struggles Gopalakrishnan had to transfer his vision onto celluloid.

Though now regarded as India's best film-maker outside the commercial field, it was not always easy to gain a reputation outside Kerala, where he always had a faithful audience.Even now, the fact that Gopalakrishnan's films are seldom given a commercial life abroad shows how difficult it is. True, they are shown as tributes to and retrospectives


of a remarkable artist in Britain, America and at festivals all over the world. But one constantly feels that ordinary non-specialist audiences would appreciate films like The Walls and Rat-Trap too.

Bhaskaran's book ought to be widely read and I hope will be, especially in India. We need to celebrate a world-class director and this biography does so without becoming a mere hagiography.It is substantially from the master's lips and that is as it should be.

(Derek Malcolm, Hon. President of the International Film Critics Association (Fipresci) was chief film critic of The Guardian,London, for many years and is now film cCritic of the London Evening Standard. He has been a regular visitor to India since the 1970s.)