It received a stunning applause all along the corridors of Inox Screen II at the end of the second screening on 22nd November 2016 at IFFI 2016. ‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram’ (When the woods bloom) directed by Dr. Bijukumar Damodar was the sixth Indian Panorama Feature Film at IFFI 2016 and it was the first housefull film on the second day of the festival. The film mainly deals with the problems akin to the enforcement of draconian laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) (UAPA) on Dalit and Adivasis in India. The movie portrays this problem in the general social backdrop of the marginalized communities.
The heroine, actor Rima kallingal outshines the rest of cast in this film. The film depicts woman empowerment and social commitment as its nucleus. The ‘nameless’ central character, a suspected Maoist woman, of the movie is far ahead in woman’s empowerment when compared to the social scenario visualised in the movie ‘Venkalam’. A police man arrests a suspected Maoist woman in a forest near a tribal village at night. But the cop loses his way out from the forest. Thus, both the hunter and the hunted (we can say prey and predator also) are stranded in the thick forest.
Dr Biju, also known as Bijukumar Damodaran, is a filmmaker who has won several National and International awards. He has made seven feature films so far, all noted for their unique content and social commitment. Dr Biju is the recipient of India’s prestigious national film awards for three times. His movies were screened at many international film festivals including Cannes, Montreal, Shanghai, Cairo, Telluride, New York, Tehran, Goa, etc.
When contacted personally after the IFFI screening, Dr. Biju said that he tried to describe how the laws like UAPA are jeopardising the identity and integrity of the Tribes. The central actor Rima Kallingal said that more than aiming at awards and other recognitions, ‘Kaadu Pookkunna Neram‘ gave her more personal contentment. UAPA is an Indian law aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. But the government and police have been misusing the UAPA.
Using UAPA the government can detain anyone who raises their voice against the Government, without any evidence, by labelling them as Ultra. Innocent members of the Tribal communities could be booked under this draconian law. The film also focuses on gender equations. The film puts forth its bold politics without any compromise in its content and treatment. Kaadu Pookkunna Neram attempts to be a strong political statement on the contemporary Indian society.
The Producer of the film is Ms. Sophia Paul and the Cinematographer is M.J. Radhakrishnan. Movie Editor – Karthik Jogesh. Sound Designer & Mixer – Jayadevan Chakkadath, Pramod Thomas. Music: Santhosh Chandran. Cast: Indrajith Sukumaran, Rima Kallingal, Indrans K, Irshad, Prakash Bare and Krishnan Balakrishnan.
This article was originally published in the Malayalam online News portal – “Nava Malayali”. Translation by Premchand Cheriyath.
Mruduladevi Sasidharan is a Dalit activist, Poet, Journalist and also the Editorial Board member of Malayalam Magazine ‘Paada Bhedham”.