Filmmaker and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Adoor Gopalakrishnan. (DC File Photo)
Taking a trip down memory lane, legendary filmmaker and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Friday said his first movie, ‘Swayamvaram’, decided his future.
The filmmaker was in the city for a three-day screening of his movies starting Friday by Moving Images Film Club, Hyderabad. On Friday, Adoor’s directorial debut ‘Swayamvaram’ was shown. The movie was introduced by the master filmmaker himself. On Saturday, ‘Videhyan’ will be shown while the retrospective will end with ‘Kathapurusham’ on Sunday.
Today Adoor is a director of international repute but things were different when he started. Recalling his journey, Adoor said, "People often ask me which is my favourite film. I reply each of them because I could not have done a better film at that time. I always feel my last film is my best film, probably it may not be so for the audiences. Different people like different films. Work of art should not be like table and chair. It should look different to different people. You enjoy work of art on the basis of what you have acquired in life in terms of experience and exposure to art."
"I can always say ‘Swayamwaram’ is my favourite film as it was first. In fact, this film decided my future. After the film was made there was no distributor. There was a distributor while the movie was being made. However, he later backed out as ‘Swayamwaram’ was a different kind of movie. So, the Film Co-operative Society took up the distribution of the film. It was a big release back then as it had two important actors, Madhu and Sharada. It was released in as many as 14 cinemas then, which was a big thing for Kerala.
"After a week, theatre managers started calling to say it would have been better had the movie had some songs. After a week, the movie stopped playing in most of the cinemas. It was considered a flop and we were finished. People started writing obituaries for our movement. "
Further detailing the turnaround of events, Adoor said, "However, after a few months it was announced that ‘Swayamwaram’ has won a national award for Best Film. This movie had the distinction of winning all the major awards. Hence, we re-released it and then every show was housefull. In three months, it made a huge profit equivalent to the profit made by a commercial film. That made me. It gave me the confidence to do what I believed in."
Sharing an interesting anecdote on the movie’s finances, Adoor said, "‘Swayamwaram’ was not an easy production. The cost of production of the movie was Rs 2.5 lakh. We had to apply for the loan from Film Finance Corporation. They gave us a loan at an interest rate of 18%. They were surprised when we returned the money after the movie was successful. Since we paid back on time, they gave us a concession of two per cent. That’s how I started my filmmaking career.
At the outset of the programme welcoming Adoor, Jayesh Ranjan, who is president of the film club, said, "It is a matter of great satisfaction that we are honouring one of the great filmmakers of our time. He has been a source of inspiration for everyone involved with cinema".
Noted economist Dr Mohan Guruswamy said, "I have been an admirer of Adoor Gopalkrishnan for a long time." He also highlighted the mishmash of movie cultures operating in Hyderabad.
Later, as a token of appreciation, a book about Hyderabad which has been published by the Deccan Chronicle was gifted to Adoor.