There was this misconception, ever since the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) began two decades ago, that Malayalam movies are not eligible to bag the Golden Crow Pheasant award alias Suvarna Chakoram, the top award of the fete. Never in the last 19 years had any Malayalam film qualified win the top prize and there have always been murmurs of protests from Kerala’s filmmakers. That myth was now been exposed when Jayaraj’s Ottal bagged all the four awards for best film from the competition section including the Suvarna Chakoram.
“I never thought that the Suvarnachakoram was not meant for a Malayali or a Malayalam film. If the film is good and better than the other films in the competition section, it can win the title,” says the director, who had also bagged the Golden Peacock award at the International Film Festival of India for his film Karunam, 15 years ago. “I got that in 2000 when it was considered a tough task for a south Indian to win that award,” he recalls.
Jayaraj says he knew the film was a winner. “Even when the award for the best film was denied for Ottal, in the 62nd National awards and selected as the best film on environmental conservation, I was sure that it would get more awards. From the scripting till the shooting, I had all the support from nature. Now, as I wished, it is creating history,” he says. According to him, it could impress the jury members from around the globe because of its universal theme. “It is not an easy task for a film and its maker to convey his idea to the viewers from different parts of the world. That’s why I believe that my film could create a universal emotion,” says Jayaraj, adding with pride that it is a rare occasion when a film has been accepted by both the jury as well as the audience. “Ottal was conceived as an art house film. But, for all the screenings, I witnessed huge crowds. That shows Ottal could blend the commercial as well as aesthetic elements,” he says.
How come then that the film had to be content with just a lukewarm response at the theatres? “Yes, it is a fact that good films are not getting audiences during their theatrical release. But, I think it is a transition stage when more people are coming forward to watch good films, compared with the past,” says the director who has started the pre-production of his next film Veeram, which is a tri-lingual project.
“Veeram will be completely different from Ottal. It is being narrated in a big canvas as it is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is set against the backdrop of the 16th century and is being made in Hindi, English and Malayalam. Hollywood technicians are also roped in for the project,” says the director.
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