Online Petition against Ban on Screening Sanskrit Movie in Kerala

via Jayashankar Menon - CHANGE.ORG published on October 18, 2015

Dear friends…..

God’s Own Country’s Chalachitra Academy has hit a new low, this time the name of the third Sanskrit movie ever being made, Priyamanasam not finding its slot in the selection process, for the best reasons known to them. The Academy boasts big names like Shaji N Karun and Rajeev Nath as Chairman of the International Film Festival and Academy respectively. What is the criteria for the selection of good movies, be it in Malayalam or the biopics made by Malayalee artists in different languages? Friends, we all know how the nominations went last year, with undeserving actors and actresses bagging accolades. The trend continues unabated. It is high time we stem the rot. In the Malayalam film industry, lobby plays a key role, right from producer to the directors and actors. It is a chain reaction. Actors, especially, the so-called mega stars and super stars have their own fans associations and they work in their own terms. Often, big budget movies are being tailor-made for these stars. The moment the movie is planned for release, the distributor lobby takes over…they will decide which movie should be screened on priority. Often times, very good movies are being withdrawn after few days of successful run, in order to accommodate the movies enacted by these sharks. Resistance starts from grassroots levels. Producers are a different lot now. Unlike the yesteryears, production houses had enough budget to make movies of all genres. Now, individual producers, either the neo-rich petro-dollar enterepreneurs from the Middle East or the homegrown ones with shady and dubious past, with equally dubious agenda, pump money to meet their vicarious agendas. These new gen producers prefer new gen movies that has instant returns, no matter the stories have any social message or not.
Against all odds, if few film makers think differently and involve in lot of research and come up with movies that have international -standards, the so-called jury mercilessly reject their film on flimsy grounds or without even giving any explanation. The Director of the movie, Priyamanasam, Vinod Mankara has confirmed that the Sanskrit film is not there in the list.

After two decades, Vinod has brought out a Sanskrit movie and that too about the great poet Unnayi Varier, thus paying a fitting tribute to the great man. With Rajesh Hebbar acting in the lead role, care has been taken to learn Kathakali spending lot of time in Kalamandalam. The movie is a sequal to the already released documentary, Nalacharitham Aatakatha Anjam Divasam, for which Vinod was conferred with an award by the Kalamandalam in 2014. The genesis of Priyamanasam can be traced back to at least 8 years, when Vinod delved deep into the character of Unnayi Variar and his emotional turbulance in great detail. After undergoing all these efforts, and when the movie is about to be released, here comes the shocker. As a journalist and as a movie lover, I thought it is my responsibility to highlight the mess that is going on in the Malayalam film industry. I know Vinod from my college days and we also happened to be colleagues in a popular Malayalam television channel. The umpteen number of awards he has won over a media career spanning more than two decades is more than enough for a person to establish his credentials. I have never come across a person in Kerala who has directed more than 600 documentaries. Vinod’s previous film, Otta Mandaram also saw the same fate, rejected by his own state as a non-descript film, nevertheless, Vinod won at least half a dozen awards for the same.

When I tried to reach the officials of the academy and the festival committee, they were not available for comment. I will pursue it further, eventually reach out to Shaji N Karun and ask for explanation. Any further developments, I will let you know. Meantime, I request all the film lovers and those who genuinely want to save the Malayalam film industry from cesspool it is…..try to share this information and get justice for Vinod and his team.

Hope the Union Government uses its good offices to solve this issue amicably. By leaving out a Sanskrit movie, we are showing disrespect to our nation and our culture. I request all language lovers and cinema lovers to sign this petition and create a change.

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