That was how Jesus screamed — Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani?, meaning ‘My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?’ A filmmaker asks himself this question after making a movie of that name. Jiju Antony has hurdles galore to get his movie the censor clearance and reach his audience. Having received a screen at MAMI (Mumbai Film Festival), Eli Eli... is one of the movies to let out a sigh with a parallel screening in the city where the International Film Festival of Kerala is happening. The film, which captured the dark underbellies of modern day Mumbai, had its third festival screening in India held on Sunday at Kazhcha Indie Film Festival, a platform spearheaded by a team headed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, director of the much debated movie S Durga.
“My film has herds of cattle in the scenes. I am being asked why so many of them! It’s a realistic portrayal of life and street dogs have become part of the shots, without us bringing any of them for filming. I could not even go to the Central Board of Film Certification since a clearance from the Animal Welfare Board had to be obtained first,” sighs the director. Apart from having in common the fight S Durga has been facing for long, certain factors connect these two movies also. Rajshri Deshpande, female lead in S Durga, has acted in Eli Eli... as well. Director Sanal Kumar is the editor of the film. The crowdfunded movie is produced by Kazhcha Chalachithra Vedi and Niv Art Movies.
Hailing from Thrissur, the business development professional based in Coimbatore courted problems with his maiden filmy outing itself. “My inspiration came from the Nirbhaya incident having a juvenile convict. How do people happen to be like this? That thought was active during the writing process and finally I realised it is social circumstances,” he says. Jiju, a voracious reader from his younger days, had some inclination towards a different genre — of reading movie scripts. “Screenplays were available in bounded volumes those days. Among other literature, this was also included. I got introduced to the scripts of MT and Padmarajan thus. I had in my mind, the way a film script works. After all, everyone has a story to tell and I had one in my mind too,” he rewinds. Eli Eli..., a Hindi-Marathi bilingual was screened in the India Stories category at the Mumbai Festival and All Lights India International Film Festival in Hyderabad where he won the award for best debut director.