Fences are meant to separate. The entities that they divide into two zones may vary from region to religion. According to Vineeth Vasudevan, a chakyarkooth performer by profession and writer-director by passion, a fence — in terms of the thoughts and beliefs of society — is about the discrimination that we make amongst ourselves on the basis of caste, creed, religion, money and many other aspects that judge a person’s position in the environment he/she lives. That is the reason why this artiste, who has a couple of award-winning short films to his credit, chose to portray this subject in his latest work Veli (Fence). The short film, written and directed by Vineeth, deals with the fences that exist in our minds, which make us discriminate between people in terms of caste.
Vineeth appears in the lead role in the short film, which has a group of children as the central characters. Vineeth says it was a conscious effort to draw attention of people belonging to all ages. The short film narrates how some children who gather at their teacher’s place to rehearse for a drama based on the Ramayana are discriminated by their teacher’s mother. While she serves them refreshments, the boy who enacts the role of Ravana is given juice in a steel glass whereas the others get juice in glass tumblers. The boy has a problem with it and feels that he is being treated so as he plays the role of Ravana, an evil one. However, the teacher who questions his mother gets startled to know that his mother has an issue with the little boy’s caste. The film ends with the boy breaking the glass tumblers with his catapult, which, according to Vineeth, is symbolic to breaking the barriers built on the grounds of caste and creed.
Elaborating on his thoughts about the subject, Vineeth says, “Religion is a person’s choice or something a person follows as he/she is born into one. But caste, according to me, is a fine way of corruption that uses the emotions of people to root itself in our hearts. I would say that temples are pilgrim centres where casteism exists in the raw form even today. Veli deals with one of the untold truths of casteism that exists in every stratum. Being a person who works in the Malayalam film industry, I feel sad to admit that feature films dealing with such topics will take many more years to happen in our industry. Movies like Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, which at least had a mention of caste discrimination, took all these years to happen. This is why I chose to take this subject for a short film and narrate the plot in just a few minutes as it will precisely put forward the idea. It is an aspect that even though doesn’t make it to a coffee table discussion, automatically pops out amid a conversation in some or the other way even without our knowledge. This is solely because of the way we are conditioned. Even our language decides our caste. People are judged for their caste depending on the extent of sophistication while conversing,” he says.
Vineeth is happy that the short film is getting critical acclaim and has been welcomed to various short film festivals. He doesn’t expect Veli to receive huge number of views on YouTube as it is not purely meant for entertainment. He very well understands that the subject he has dealt with has very few commercial elements and thus the impact, too, will be slow....