Vivek Vishwanathan on his award-winning short film and breaking same-gender stereotypes
THIS year’s Kashish, Mumbai’s International Queer Film Festival, has chosen a Chennai-based short for a winner. The film, Mudivu Thedum Mutrupulli (The Full Stop that Searches for its End), directed by Palakkad boy Vivek Vishwanathan, is a shift from the usual coming-out stories and, instead, talks about love and closure. The movie set in the 60s (and ends in the present day) explores the companionship between two boys in a traditional Tamil Brahmin community through the eyes of an old man who is coming to terms with his childhood friend being gay.
With 12 shortlisted films from over 20 —and themes such as gender identity and social opprobrium —Viswanathan shares the prize for the best Indian short narrative with Rohan Kanawade. The five-member jury—including Anubhav Sinha and Aamir Bashir—unanimously said the film was a refreshing idea dealt with sensitivity. Bearing a strong resemblance to Satyajit Ray’s short stories, it was conceived by Vishwanathan as part of his diploma project during his stint in LVR Prasad Institute last year.
A love story
What’s surprising is that Vish-wanathan never intended to tell a story on the LGBT theme. A Tamil-Brahmin himself, the 24-year-old decided to make the protagonists differently oriented only once the plot was conceived. “To me, it was never about the same gender. I did not want to cast an effeminate actor to talk about the conflict of coming out of the closet. When there’s so much advancement in technology, why are our minds still putting on blinkers when it comes to a topic on LGBT?” asks the Mumbai-based director, who is excited about it being screened at the Chennai Rainbow Film Festival (June 26-28).
The cast comprises people from various theatre groups in the city as well as people he met while studying at the institute. Shyam Sunder, who essayed the role of Krishnan (the protagonist), says, “Krishnan is a sensitive man who would do anything for the person he loves. It was a conscious decision to not portray him with all the stereotypes of being gay because homosexual men are no different from heterosexual ones—they just want to be loved.”