Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who made films like S Durga and Chola, has been conferred the first-ever ‘Disruptor in Cinema’ award by the Government of Victoria at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, for his unique style of filmmaking in Kayattam. The film, which has Manju Warrier in the lead role, was completely shot on an iPhone.
“It is obviously an honour and I am happy,” says the filmmaker. “I choose the equipment after we finalised the subject and the Himalayas as the locale for shooting. It is tough to shoot in the Himalayas, and we cannot use heavy equipment. So we opted for the iPhone.”
While the weather didn’t surprise Sasidharan, who shot his first film in the Himalayas apart from Unmadiyude Maranam (Death of Insane), he says the journey was full of revelations. “Firstly, I was surprised when Manju Warrier asked me to make a film, and then the actress surprised me with her performance. Later I was surprised when she was not nominated [for an award],” says the director.
Kayattam was also nominated at the Busan Film Festival. “We shot the film in 2020. It was not released. It went to festivals. It was basically made as a reaction to the ban on Sexy Durga (following the Censor Board ban, the film was released as S Durga), and I am sure that the Censors would have made another disruption,” chuckles the ace filmmaker.
While Sexy Durga was about a north Indian migrant and a Keralite youth named Kabeer running away on a midnight, his other film, Chola, too, was well received at the Orizonti Competition at the Venice Film Festival. “I have also made another film called Vazhakku with Tovino Thomas in Malayalam. It has to be released in theatres, and we are waiting for theatres to reopen, Sasidharan says, adding, “I am planning a Tamil film next.”
“I have a few scripts in place but I haven’t decided on anything yet on the genre. The script work is still under way and I shall reveal things when the script and cast are finalised,” says the filmmaker, who is also a poet and lawyer.