Documentary to reclaim Kesari’s genius screened

SiGNS film festival goers view intellectual biography of one of state’s greatest thinkers


Kochi, Oct 1: To describe Kesari Balakrishna Pillai as a Renaissance man alone is to do disservice to his multi-facetted genius, which ushered in a sea-change in the thinking of the Malayalee, National award-winning filmmaker K.R. Manoj said.

“The dismissal of, or rather the refusal to engage with, his late-in-life contributions to history by intellectuals is an extension of this tendency. His output from his period is unrelatable to most modern historians,” said the director, whose latest work, Kesari, attempts a course correction by reclaiming this lost space.

Speaking after screening Kesari at the ongoing tenth edition of the SiGNS film festival at Ernakulam Town Hall today, Manoj said the documentary was not a typical biography in the mould of Rajiv Vijay Raghavan’s seminal two-decade-old production on Kesari.

 “It is an intellectual biography – an investigation into the genius of the man who pushed Kerala’s consciousness from its post-colonial plateau to a cosmopolitan high. Kesari’s story is the story of Kerala’s modernity,” Manoj said.

“This was not some intellectual in Calcutta or Bombay, but a person from the erstwhile Travancore region who turned prevailing public mindset on its head by writing on such taboo subjects as homosexuality. He was unfairly ignored for decades but is now being revisited by academicians,” he added.

Framed around thoughts on Kesari from such celebrated personalities as renowned poet K. Satchidanandan, noted cultural historian Prof. Dilip Menon, scholar Prof. M.V. Narayanan, cultural theorist Udaya Kumar, among others, the documentary seeks to add to the existing corpus of literature.

The documentary, commissioned by the Muziris Heritage Project, will be on permanent loop at the Kesari Balakrishna Pillai Memorial Museum at Madavanaparambu in Paravur, where Kesari spent the last decades of his life.

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