Kerala-based director Biju Damodaran talks about his film Names Unknown, parallel spaces and the state of cinema
Regional National Award winning director, Biju Damodaran, researched for over 15 years on the issue of marginalised people in Kerala before he decided to make a movie about them. “I studied many garbage pickers and put all of this together. Then came the film Names Unknown (Perariyathavar),” he begins. The movie revolves around the life of a father and his eight year old son. The father works as a temporary sweeper and along with Chami, his friend and fellow worker; he collects garbage from the city streets in a vehicle and dumps it at a rural village. Damodaran tells us how the issue is relevant and current in Kerala. “The Government hasn’t done anything with regard to garbage pickers, though there have been protests. People throw garbage in the rivers, on the road and the cities are so nasty,” he describes.
The movie has been well received and has been part of several film festivals too like Montreal World Film Festival, Canada and Mumbai International film festival. “The subject is very informal and can be shown in several parallel spaces, not necessarily theatres. These kind of movies can run for more than just 30 days,” says the director who has done several off-beat Malayalam films like Saira, Raman and Akasathinte Niram. Talking about the state of cinema in Kerala, Damodaran says, “Making an artistic film is suicidal. We used to make movies with an impact, but these days everything has become commercial.” As for his favourite filmmakers, the director picks Iranian director, Majid Majidi and Polish director, Roman Polanski for their choice of subjects and execution.
Names Unknown part of PVR Director’s Rare is scheduled to release on December 12.