One of the foremost filmmakers of the country, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s latest Malayalam release, Pinneyum (Once Again), is his first film he has shot digitally. Pinneyum, starring Malayalam actors Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, was screened in the Special Tribute section of the ongoing 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival.
The septuagenarian, who pioneered the new wave movement in Kerala with his debut film, Swayamvaram (1972), admits that he was apprehensive about the digital medium. So, he researched a lot on the opportunities and limitations of the medium before shooting the film. “I have been shooting movies all my life on film camera. But when I started working with the digital camera, I found it very convenient. Earlier, we had to wait till the film was processed, printed and projected. We couldn’t watch the film till the entire process was over. But when a film is shot on a digital camera, you can see the rushes instantly. You can discard or improve a shot. That worked well with me,” says Adoor, who has been instrumental in revolutionising Malayalam cinema. His recent film, Pinneyum, which released in August, is based on a real crime incident, which took place in Kerala in the 1980s.
Three years ago, Adoor was in Kolkata to attend the 19th Kolkata International Film Festival, where a retrospective of his films was held. The filmmaker had then praised the new look of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. This time, the Dadasaheb Phalke-awardee praised the new look of the city for coming up with so many flyovers. “Coming to Kolkata after three years, the first thing I noticed was the flyovers. The flyovers have changed the entire look of the city, otherwise Kolkata had been looking the same for several years,” he smiles.
Adoor loves coming to Kolkata. In fact, every time he comes to the city he makes sure he meets Mrinal Sen, one of the master filmmakers of Bengali cinema. This time too, he met the Padatik, Akaler Sandhane and Kharij filmmaker at his residence.
“Mrinalda is keeping well at his age (Sen is 93-years). We had a long conversation. Kolkata has always nurtured great cinema made by the likes of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak. The audience here loves serious cinema and knows about my work. When we talk about Indian cinema, we have these three great masters before us. We are making the kind of cinema because of them,” says Adoor, who is highly influenced by Ray’s works and has often been called his successor.
Pinneyum was selected for the ‘Masters’ section of the Toronto International Film Festival, 2016 and was also screened at the recently-concluded MAMI film festival. This is also the first film Adoor has made in eight years. His last film, Oru Pennum Randaanum (A Climate for Crime), released in 2008.
Adoor says that a number of people have been contacting him to make films but he cannot just start working on a film even though he has financial backup. “My mind goes blank after making a film and I need time to find a proper subject to make another film. I respect my audience. I should not be wasting their time. Just because money is available it doesn’t mean someone should make films. Many directors do that but I don’t believe in this model. It’s important for me to find a theme that’s worth making a film on,” said the Elippathayam (Rat Trap) and Naalu Pennungal (The Four Women) filmmaker.
Adoor is the second Indian filmmaker after Ray to win Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. His film, Elippathayam, won him the British Film Institute Award for ‘the most original and imaginative film’ in 1982. The International Film Critics Prize has gone to him six times for Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Nizhalkkuthu, Mathilukal, Vidheyan and Kathapurushan. “Initially, when I started making films, I admit finance was a problem. But big corporate houses approach me to make films now. I have been in the industry for 50 years now, but have only managed to make 12 films. Some of my contemporaries have made more than 100 films. I was not making films most of the time,” he smiles.