Cyclone Ockhi caused considerable damage on the coasts of the state last November. It was one of the greatest natural disasters witnessed by the state in the modern era. The cyclone claimed at least 218 lives in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala along its way, and caused severe damage to property. Kerala alone reported 60 dead and 102 missing, all of whom have now been presumed dead by the state government.
Ockhi-hit fishermen were next seen during the recent floods that left Kerala devastated, in the worst affected areas including Pandanad, Thiruvanvandoor, Edanad and Mangalam at Chengannur, Tiruvalla and other parts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, leading the rescue operations.
Many families lost their bread winners and livelihood in Ockhi. Walter D’Cruz thought it fit to view the tragedy through the perspective of the families who were affected by the tragedy, and to bring it to the public domain. This led to the birth of the documentary Ockhi: Kadal Katteduthapol. The documentary sheds light on not only the havoc caused by the cyclone, but also the struggles of the people who survived the tragedy.
The 45-minute documentary has been divided into two parts — Onnam Kadal and Randam Kadal. The first part tries to explore the devastation caused by the cyclone. They have used media clippings and archive materials for the purpose. The second part is about the fisherfolk who survived Ockhi and their hopes for the future. “The documentary was born out of the strong belief that such a disaster has to be documented,” says director Walter D’Cruz. He works as deputy director in the Public Relation Department.
However, the view of the people was that Ockhi was an issue that only fishermen had to be worried about. “It was not an issue that should be sorted out by the fishermen. The general public should view this as a problem that has to be tackled collectively. This was the way fishermen viewed the floods and took part in the rescue operations even if they were not directly affected by it,” says D’Cruz.
The life of a fisherman is always a struggle for survival. However, the general public, by and large, are unaware of it. People have failed to identify with the struggles of those who battle the sea on a daily basis facing many odds. The documentary has been successful in showcasing it in the public domain.
As part of the documentary, D’Cruz and his crew interviewed many survivors of the natural disaster and their families. The faces of the survivors and their families truly expose the fears in their eyes and their aspiration. These experiences have been very well documented. There are many who are afraid to venture into the sea even after one year of the tragedy. The plight of such persons has been showcased in the documentary. The preparations for the documentary started from the 58th day of the disaster covering four days of shooting in the fishing hamlets in Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Poovar and Adimalathura. Walter D’Cruz had earlier taken a documentary on artist T.K. Padmini’s life. Padmini, was a student of K.C.S. Panicker.
The documentary Ockhi: Kadal Katteduthapol was released on November 14 in Lenin Balavadi. Produced by Sixtus Paulson, it has been scripted by S.N. Roy. K.G. Jayan has cranked camera and editing is by Rahul Rajeev. Music is composed by Sidharth, Jayasurya and Anand....