Kolkata: The timing for director Bijukumar Damodaran's double National Award-winning film "Perariyathavar" ("Names Unknown") couldn't have been more perfect. Highlighting the "sensitive issue" of scavengers and garbage dumping, the film's theme has generated quite a buzz for its link to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Clean India campaign.
According to Biju, the team is "seriously thinking" of screening it for the leader though the connection is entirely coincidental.
Malayali film "Perariyathavar" clinched the Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation Award as well as bagged the National Award for Best Actor for Suraj Venjaramoodu in the 61st National Film Awards this year.
Written and directed by the homeopathic doctor-turned-filmmaker, "Names Unknown" tells the story of the marginalised community of sweepers and scavengers through the life of a widowed father (played by Suraj) and his eight-year-old son (enacted by Master Govardhan).
"It rakes up a lot of issues related to garbage dumping in populated areas which is a huge issue in Kerala. Lots of people agitated and this problem persists. There is no specific strategy to dispose waste. Garbage dumping is one of the major topics shown in the film.
"I think the film is a timely one and it has struck a chord. The issue needs awareness. Now, after our Prime Minister's campaign started and after people got curious about the movie, we are seriously thinking of showing it to him... but we do not know how to go about it. It is a good thing if it can help in generating awareness and furthering the campaign," Biju told reporters over the phone.
The 110-minute film was screened Friday at the ongoing 20th Kolkata International Film Festival in the 'Indian Select' segment to a packed audience.
"Names Unknown" will be releasing across theatres in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Cochin Dec 12 as part of PVR Director's Rare.
In the film, the father works as a temporary municipal sweeper along with Chami, his friend and fellow worker (portrayed by actor Indrans). Both-belonging to the tribal community-collect garbage from the city streets into a vehicle and dump them in a rural area.
"The other topics showcased are the marginalised community and how people are evicted from their homes in the name of development," said Biju, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, who has earlier helmed four award-winning ventures.
The 41-year-old self-taught filmmaker, hailing from Kudassanad, in southern Kerala, works for the state government as a doctor when is he not behind the lens or penning new stories.
While his maiden project Saira (2005) was the opening film in 'Cinema of the World' at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, "Perariyathavar" had its world premiere at the prestigious 38th Montreal Film Festival, Canada, in September this year.
"Regional movies are doing a good job. The problem is we do not get to see the regional cinema in Kerala. Local problems are depicted in regional cinema which must have a wider audience," said Biju.
Biju, who was bitten by the cinema bug after watching "good movies" at the International Film Festival of Kerala, is filming his next outing centred on the plight of victims of endosulfan (pesticide) tragedy of Kasaragod in Kerala, dubbed as one of world's worst pesticide disasters.
"Exposure to the harmful pesticide led to severe disabilities and rare diseases in children and more than 10, 000 children have been affected. They die within five or six years.
"It is a year-long project shot in four different seasons. We are going to Canada for the Model United Nations conference for the next phase, i.e. winter," said Biju. It was at a UN conference in Geneva that the pesticide was banned worldwide.