Kochi: It is not every day that someone wins a National award, far lesser when one is just a student. Yet, Christo Tomy is not overly excited about having won a National award. In this telephonic interview, he sounds emotionally well-balanced. “I am happy to have got the award,” says the 26-year-old director who is currently pursuing his PG Diploma in direction and script writing at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. He has bagged the National award for Best Debutant Director in the Non-Feature section for the 11-minute drama Kanyaka (Virgin) at the 61st National Awards.
Christo says he least expected this award while making Kanyaka which was part of his curriculum project. “Every year the institute sends the films made by their students. Though my friends had said that I would win, I kept my expectations within limits,” says Christo, who hails from Changanassery in Kottayam district. He thanks his family who was very supportive in his venture. In fact, it was my amma who informed me about the award,” he says.
It was while studying in the 12th standard that he was bitten by the film bug. “During that time I developed an affinity towards cinema, which made me select this path. I used to watch all kinds of movies,” he remembers. As a first step, Christo headed to Kolkata after completing his graduation in Mass Communication from Mar Ivanios College.
Satyajit Ray Film Institute, is one of the largest standalone film school campuses in the world. It opened new avenues before him. Christo who is doing his final year here, says, he enjoys being in Kolkata and in the college. “Life is very good here. As it is a national institute, it is equipped with all facilities needed for filmmaking. Besides, we are blessed to attend classes by pioneers of cinema. The experience it provides is precious,” he opines.
It was during his second year of film studies that Kanyaka happened. It is a movie that throws light on the desires of Sister Nirmala, a nun in a convent. Why such a subject? “I wished to do a film based on the lives of nuns. The entire movie was shot on the sets of our campus studio. The actors were Malayali students from the campus. It was a combined effort. Hence, I dedicate my award to them,” says a happy Christo. Subina Balakrishnan, Laila Cherian, Pushpa Sreedharan, Nidhi Cherian and Akhila Henry are the main actors. The camera was wielded by Lalithaprasad Kalluri and sound by Arka Ghosh. The movie was edited by Goutham Raj Nerusu.
Kanyaka has also won the Special Jury Award in the 2nd National Students film festival and 11th Kalpanirjhar International Short Fiction Film Festival. It has won the Best Film Title in the First Frame International Students Film Festival, Delhi, Cinematheque 2014 and Odessy Film Festival 2014 in Kolkata. It was also featured at the 44th International Film Festival of India, Goa (students section) and Chennai International Short film festival. Apart from Kanyaka, he has also directed Grahanam.
Christo dreams to do his first feature film in his mother tongue. “I want to make a Malayalam movie first. I will come there, assist a director for some time and will do an independent one later. But, I have not thought much about it. First I have to finish my studies,” concludes Christo as he goes back to the busy schedule of his college....