IFFK at 20: A life-long connection with films

Thiruvananthapuram, December 07: Ashraf Palamala has worn many hats in his life. His stars, though, always seem connected to the movies: whether as child artiste, clap boy, film muse and now, a long-time official International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) auto-rickshaw driver.

The 62-year-old, who hails from the neighbouring suburb of Attingal, has been a part of the film festival for 15 years, having first joined the crew as an IFFK book seller for two years and since the 2002 festival as official autorickshaw driver, ferrying around important guests and delegates.

Ashraf started his career in the Malayalam film industry with roles in Bobanum and Moliyum (1971) and Vidhyaarthikale Ithile Ithile (1971), among others.  He then moved behind the camera as a clap boy.

When he went on to take a job in the Gulf, that too ended up with a filmic connection. A travel agent cheated Ashraf and 10 others, who thought they were being taken by ship to Saudi Arabia, but were dropped off in Chennai instead. The incident hit the news and became the premise for the much-loved 1987 Malayalam comedy, Naadodikattu.

Ashraf is not much of a filmgoer now, but is very pleased to be a part of IFFK.

“It is a good way to maintain relationships and meet the old crowd who have made it big,” says Ashraf, who still gets an artiste’s pension thanks to his long-term membership in the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA).

“This generation of film people too should work towards building strong friendships.”


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