Sanal Kumar Sasidharan is in Cherthala. Only a day ago he was in Kochi, meeting Adoor Gopalakrishnan, chatting about movies. Sanal’s film Ozhivudivasathe Kali is playing in the same Asha Theatre in Kottayam where Adoor’s Kodiyettam had once run for 135 days. It is at times like these that the old taboo about art movies not getting much audience in theatres goes away. Sanal is pleasantly surprised at the turnout in theatres as the movie is about to go into its second week of screening. “It was running in 22 theatres and will continue in 20. Plus, nine more theatres have asked for the film.”
It is also not a silent audience you might expect at the screening of an art house film. They are enjoying, laughing and having a good time throughout the two hours. “We maintain an entertainment factor throughout the film. Despite the politics and other such factors, the whole movie is packaged in entertainment.” And by entertainment, Sanal does not mean the kind of comedy we see in mainstream cinema. “There is nothing as funny as transferring life into cinema; nothing more comical than looking at a mirror sometimes. What happens in serious films sometimes is that they avoid such factors. In Adoor sir’s Kodiyettam also, there was this entertainment element that worked without the help of any background sound.”
The film is full of everyday language and conversations that spring out of any group of friends. Five men play the main roles while Abhija plays Geetha, a maid. “Except Abhija, all are first time actors in cinema; three of them are from theatre. I chose my actors according to my intuition. I don't give them a script, but tell them the situation they are in. I tell them not to be bothered about the camera and perhaps that's how they were able to do it so naturally.” That’s the comment that most of his viewers come to tell him. That they don’t feel it is a film, it feels like life. Even so, many of them had suggested it would work well in festivals, having won the state award for the best film this year.
And then when he least expected it, he saw support coming from all quarters. Mammootty took to Facebook to share good comments on the film, so did Kavya Madhavan. Aashiq Abu went ahead and presented the film.
There were the little groups of youngsters too at every stop to help him reach out to more audience. “They would talk to the people and bring more to theatres,” Sanal says. He was conscious not to make his second film an extension of Oraalppokkam, and at this, the director has largely succeeded....