Feb 5, 2013

10th Feb 2013; Adoor Gopalakrishnan's KATHAPURUSHAN

(Man of the Story)
A film by Adoor Goplakrishnan
1995/India - Kerala / Col/ 102 min
10th Feb 2013; 5.45 pm
Perks Mini Theater

Main screening followed by documentary - 
Adoor on Kathapurushan -16 minutes

Kathapurushan is arguably Adoor Gopalakrishnan's most ambitious film, epic in scale but intimate in tone, covering nearly forty-five years of Kerala's history.  Adoor has described it as "an emotional journey through time and history" to distinguish it from a socio-historical document which it superficially resembles. The film begins with the protagonist Kunjunni's birth and ends with the publication and subsequent banning of his first novel, The Hard Consonants.
Thus, in many respects, Kathapurushan is a cinematic Bildungsroman, charting the emotional and psychological evolution of a man and his consciousness, framed by some of the key developments that have shaped Kerala's complex transition from feudalism to modernity. Kunjunni, in fact, belongs to a land-owning family whose decline is linked to unfolding historical events.
Kunjunni enters the world precariously. As a result of a breach delivery, he has to be held upside down and smacked so that he can take his first gulp of air. He will, later in life, develop a stammer and a limp. Along with these markers of ‘otherness’, which point to his physical and emotional frailty, he must also live with the social stigma of having been abandoned by his father.
Thus the protagonist of Adoor's epic is not the prototypical tough-guy landlord but an ordinary - even flawed - human being whose private destiny is linked to the social and historical processes shaping Kerala as well as India as a nation.  He is the ‘Man of the Story’ (as per the English title of the film) who will step outside his own class, become author of his life, and find the common humanity he shares with everybody.

Kathapurushan begins in 1937 and covers the following historical events:

  • The assassination of Gandhi;
  • The Communist electoral revolution of 1957;
  • The Land Reforms Bill of 1959;
  • The Naxalite uprising of 1968;
  • Indira Gandhi's declaration of the Emergency in 1975;
  • The return of the Left Alliance in Kerala in 1980.
These events define the context of Kunjunni's evolution and the reciprocal nature of his relationship to them. As he interacts and struggles with the forces unleashed by history, Kunjunni is moulded by them just as he, in turn, moulds them to a certain extent. For Adoor, history progresses through such a struggle between the individual and the system within which he/she functions. He believes it is the duty of every man and woman to question and oppose all political systems - even the ones they create - as soon as they become (inevitably) rigid and oppressive.

(Excerpt from the booklet essay by Suranjan Ganguly. - 
http://www.secondrundvd.com/release_more_man.php )

Adoor  Gopalakrishnan

Satyajith Ray's role in revolutionising Indian cinema during 1950s with his first film Pather Panchali was taken-up by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in Kerala to create a drastic change in Malayalam cinema. Adoor's first film Swayamvaram (1972) pioneered the new wave cinema movement in Kerala.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in 1941 in Kerala. He belongs to a family with strong links to the performing arts, especially Kathakali, a highly-stylised form of dance drama. From the age of eight Adoor began acting for the stage, later producing and directing over twenty plays, several written by him. He is the author of two books on the theatre as well as a book on the cinema, "The World of Cinema", for which he won a national award in 1983. In 1962 Adoor enrolled in the Film and Television Institute in Pune and graduated in 1965 with a diploma in Scriptwriting and Direction. The same year he founded the Chitralekha Film Society of Trivandrum as well as the Chitralekha Film Cooperative. Both played a key role in the development of film culture in Kerala. In 1972
Adoor made Swayamvaram/One's Own Choice, his first full-length feature film. It launched the New Cinema in Kerala and became one of the major films of the Indian New Wave. He has since made seven more films (along with over 25 shorts and documentaries), all of which have won major national and international awards: Kodiyettam/Ascent (1977); Elippathayam/Rat Trap (1981); Mukhamukham/Face to Face (1984); Anantaram/Monologue (1987); Mathilukal/The Walls (1990); Vidheyan/The Servile (1993), and Kathapurushan/Man of the Story (1995).
Elippathayam received the prestigious British Film Institute Award in 1982; Mukhamukham won the FIPRESCI prize in 1985; Kathapurushan was honoured in India in 1995 with the National Award for Best Film. Retrospectives of Adoor's films have been held in Pesaro, Helsinki, La Rochelle, Nantes, Munich, and New York. All of Adoor's films draw on the history and culture of his native Kerala. Kerala's transition from feudalism to modernity serves as a backdrop to his complex meditations on the psychology of power, the nature of oppression, the corruption of patriarchy, and the coexistence of the modern and the feudal in post-Independence democratic India.
Elippathayam, his masterpiece, vividly captures the descent into paranoia of a man trapped within his feudal universe. In Mukhamukham, a study in failed idealism, a Communist leader gives up on revolution and decides to go to sleep instead. Vidheyan, a parable-like story, deals with the abuse of power, the plight of the outsider, and the nature of a master-servant relationship.
The more recent films--especially Anantaram, Mathilukal and Kathapurushan--display a new concern with interiority and reflexivity, foregrounding time, memory, consciousness, and the nature of storytelling itself. Adoor's genius lies in his ability to create visually complex films that operate on multiple levels, that are culture-specific and yet universal in significance.

Source : http://www.cinemaofmalayalam.net , http://www.adoorgopalakrishnan.in/profile.htm 

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