Striking international success for debutant Kerala film director

New Delhi: Marking a striking success for Malayalam short film genre and for a debut director, Sangeeta Padmanabhan’s short film, `Charulatayude Baaki` (Charulata.. A Sequel of the Life Untold) has won two major international accolades.

The film has just won the jury’s Special Mention Award at the 41st International Film Festival of India at Goa, where it competed at the Short Film Centre. It also won the Best Short Film Award at the prestigious Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York last month.

Sangeeta directed and scripted the 24-minute film, which is based on a Sahithya Academy Award winning short story by Priya A S, one of the contemporary leading writers in Malayalam fiction.

The film had also won Special Jury awards at the International Women’s Film Festival Seoul and the International Short and Documentary Film Festival of Kerala this year. It was also screened at the International Short Film Festival Berlin in November.

"Charulata, the woman has a unique aesthetic appeal and Charulata the film, has a resonating relevance, both in terms of content and treatment. So, the very concept of a sequel to Ray``s Charulata, was welcomed with much expectation and curiosity. It was an irony and challenge to posit a modern woman into Charulata``s emotional mould and predicament. The awards validate the ever lasting significance of a silent and solitary battle for liberation which Charulata fought a century ago. I am extremely happy at the appreciation of a film which stemmed out of the sheer conviction to have a honest reflection of a woman``s mindscape, on men, marriage and other choices.", said Sangeeta in New Delhi.

Although she has more than nine years experience in visual and print media including feature films, television, fiction writing, photography and newspaper journalism, this is Sangeeta``s first solo venture in film. The recent awards are a recognition of a gifted young director who is clearly one of the top emerging talents in her field.

“Charulatayude Baaki” is a visual narration set in the mindscape of a young, unmarried girl as she grooms herself for ``the marriage market``. Her parents get busy with the complexities of match making while she breaks up with her lover, an aspiring film maker who dreams of making a sequel to Satyajit Ray``s "Charulata".

Delving into deep contemplation, she shares her compromises - of giving up her simple, sensitive personal self, to accommodate the suave, sophisticated social self, imposed on her - positing herself many a times, into Charulata``s predicaments of love, denial and sacrifice. But even as she embraces her fate of imminent failure, in obedience to and in consolidation of the established order, her spirit refuses to give up, yearning for a resonant beat in another soul. Acclaimed actors Padmapriya and Vineeth play the central roles in this film.

"Working in this film has been a different experience for me primarily because it is my first short film. I love the genre of short films. In contrast to a feature where you take five minutes to explain a situation, in a short film, you have only 30 seconds. As an actor I find the task for portraying myriad emotions in a short span more challenging.", said Padmapriya, who essayed the role of Amritha, the protagonist.

"There are some characters which cannot be definitely defined - Amritha is one such. One cannot measure up her emotions and apply the desired amount, shot by shot. This film is about the conflicts and confusions she faces while confronting the realities of life. The differences she has with her immediate environment and how she sorts it out with them and within herself, forms the crux ", she added.

As the film does national and international festival circuit, Sangeeta is getting down to write a feature to be shot next year.