Cinema and Literature are joined at the hip: IFFK panel

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 09: A high-profile panel comprising cinema icons and litterateurs on Wednesday reiterated both the indivisibility of cinema’s relationship with literature and the primacy of a film’s narrative.

The august assemblage at Mascot Hotel featured master filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Lenin Rajendran, evergreen film star Madhu as well as officials from the Kerala Sahitya Akademi, including president Perumpadavam Sreedharan, vice-president Akbar Kakkattil and secretary R. Gopalakrishnan.

“The Golden Age of Malayalam cinema was when our literary classics, such as the works of Thakazhi Sivasankar Pillai and Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, were adapted to the big screen,” Adoor said, adding that the education traditionally neglected cinema while embracing literature.

“When I graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, I was adamant that there was no connection between cinema and literature. But both are derived from life,” he added. “Like how Mathulikal (1989) came from a real-life incident in Basheer’s life.”

“Great filmmakers are also great storytellers. M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Thoppil Bhasi came to cinema from literature. Aravindan was a voracious reader,” Adoor said.

Contending that the story was the most crucial aspect of a film, Madhu said that “when literature formed the basis for a film’s screenplay, you could be sure it had soul and humanity”. “A good script inspires both the director and the artiste – writing, acting and direction are intertwined together.”

Sreedharan concurred, noting that “the treasure of Malayalam literary history formed the foundation for the golden age of our cinema”. “The strength of the characters written in their novel form can be seen in the longevity in popular memory of the movie protagonist versions,” he said.

“That is why despite having acted in over 400 films I am still recognised as ‘Pareekutty’ from Chemmeen (1965),” Madhu said.

Lenin Rajendran said such longevity was possible because “cinema is an all-encapsulating snapshot of a moment in time and literature is the reminder of an entire age”.

Noted author Akbar Kakkatil thanked the International Film Festival of Kerala for providing space for such a symbolic summit, noting that “film and literature are forever joined at the hip”. 

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