Berlinale 2016 Winner: Filmmaker Jayaraj on Making ‘Ottaal’
Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair’s Ottaal (The Trap, Malayalam) has won the Crystal Bear given by the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation Kplus Children’s Jury. Unfortunately, the director could not be present in Berlin, but the award was collected by producers K Mohanan and Vinod Vijayan, and Ashanth K Sha, the lovely child protagonist of Ottaal, to a rousing applause from the audience. The film is a lyrical portrait of a childhood robbed by child labour.
The jury citation read, “This exceptional movie touched us all with its irresistible images of nature, laid-back music and amazingly gifted actors. The unique way of filming certain details blew us away. We think it’s important that such a sad and serious topic be tackled in a movie though the film also managed to capture the humour and joy of life.”
Ottaal, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Vanka, is about the tender relationship between a young boy and his grandfather, set in Kerala’s backwaters. The boy’s parents are farmers who have committed suicide because of debt, and the grandfather is forced to sell the child as child labour to a fireworks factory, as he is ill and won’t live long. But the film rises above the issue with a haunting, exquisitely photographed, lyrical portrait of childhood. The much-awarded director, who has directed over 40 films in a 23-year career, talks to The Quint from Kottayam.
(Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist.)
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