‘Rich literature relating to human emotions and relationships, reflecting the socio-cultural ethos of man, his milieu and value system is the basis for making meaningful cinema,” says internationally renowned Indian filmmaker Biju Viswanath.
In city recently, on the invitation of Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi, the award-winning filmmaker shared his experiences in an interactive session on ‘propagating literature through cinema’ at the UT Guesthouse on Sunday.
“Cinematic version of a literary piece must reflect the intent, concept and literary elegance of an author so that the viewers — who may have read the original work — are able to relate to and relish the venture,” observes the filmmaker whose film, A Voyage, based on the works of Indian writer, Jnanpith-awardee MT Vasudevan Nair, won a gold medal for the best short film in India besides getting recognition at international film festivals.
Equipped with a master’s degree and doctorate in English literature from Chennai, it was his passion for filmmaking that made him give up a teaching career and take up the camera. Combining his love for literature with his passion for cinema, he has been making documentaries and feature films for the last 15 years.
Viswanath as made films in various languages such as English, Irish, Japanese, and many Indian languages and his credits span multiple genres, including thrillers, mystery, horror, romance and critically acclaimed dramas.
He has also received the Golden Palm Award for his film Viola and Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay for Marathon.
“Film Omkara is one of the examples of a classic sculpted out of literature,” says Viswanath, adding, “Each of my films have won multiple awards and as an innovative filmmaker I prefer creativity over popularity. If the contents are good, worth appealing to the viewers’, popularity is bound to come.”
“Filmmaking is a curious artwork wherein you are completely engrossed from the very idea of making a film to its end. I perceive end as the beginning sometimes. In any case good story in hand guarantees 50% completion of a film project. A compatible cast is the next step, while marketing is also equally important,” says the maker of Déjà Vu (English), which won rave reviews at the Locarno Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival and Florence Film Festival.
His spree of critical success has continued with over 15 works, including O’ Henry (Malalyam), Zodiac Tales, Sign of Four, Ladder to Sun, Marathon, Viola, Second Coming, The Nail (all English) Lorg and Rian (Irish), Parwaaj (Urdu), Oshizemi (Japanese).
“A filmmaker must be true to his audience as far the depiction of emotions and life of characters is concerned, and never underestimate their knowledge and calibre to rate the film and offer critical appreciation,” he says.
Elaborating on the process of adaptation of story from its source to target language, he maintains that not just the translation but the total lifestyle, rituals, socio-cultural traditions and all related nuances must commensurate with the new adaptation.