Malayalam Cinema is at the moment leading India on the world stage: Anurag Kashyap.
As things begin to open up in the Americas after Covid, for the first time ever the 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will be held in a hybrid way, with both in-person and digital screenings.
While Indian entries at the international film festivals remain a talking point in India and among the diaspora in the West, off late a lot of debutante directors and story writers are getting accolades from the world community for their works.
One such film is Nithin Lukose’s debut feature as a writer-director in the Malayalam language, ‘Paka’ (River of Blood). The feature is all set to have its world premiere at TIFF to be held from Sept. 9 to 18.
The film has been selected for the Discovery section, which showcases debut or new features of directors from around the world.
Produced by Anurag Kashyap and Raj Rachakonda, ‘Paka’ is a tale of a river that swells with the blood of two feuding families and a young couple that tries to overcome this hatred with their love.
The film set in Wayanad in north Kerala, features an ensemble cast including, Basil Paulose (Johnny), Vinitha Koshy (Anna), Jose Kizhakkan (Kochappan). The music is by Faizal Ahamed.
Anurag Kashyap, who boarded the project as a producer during its post-production stage says, “Malayalam Cinema is at the moment leading India on the world stage and I am so grateful to be associated with it in a small way. ‘Paka’ is yet another powerful debut from a rooted new voice.”
Nithin Lukose, the movie’s director, talks about the storyline and how his childhood in Kerala influenced the feature.
“I grew up listening to stories told by my grandmother,” he says. “These were stories of migration, survival, the fights for land and wealth which resulted in the family feud while a large number of the population migrated from the south to the north of Kerala in the 1950s.
“In this film, a family feud resurges from the past when someone comes back from jail after life imprisonment.”
“I always wanted to make my first Film in Wayanad where I grew up,” Lukose says. There is a dangerous river near my place, notorious for its deep trenches. Floods, accidents and murders have pushed people and dead-bodies into the river which only one man in the village can retrieve.
“He is a middle-aged man named Jose, an outstanding swimmer who knows the river in and out. He is the one who takes out the dead bodies from the river.”
“I grew up seeing this and I shaped the story of the film from my memories. I connected such unique aspects of my hometown to the stories which my grandmother told about family feuds and started writing the story for my first film, and that’s how ‘Paka’ (River of Blood) shaped into a feature film,” Lukose says.
“We shot it and treated it as an independent film in which 90% of the actors are non-actors from the village and we had a film school crew mostly from my alma mater Film and TV Institute of India,” he says.
“I aspire to tell stories that not only represent and reflect the culture and space I belong to and are also universal,” Lukose says. “Therefore, ‘Paka’ (River of Blood) too, is an attempt to tell a story from the space that I belong to while connecting it universally through its theme — Vengeance.”