Quiet voices from afar

Saturday, 11 November 2006 - 11:13am IST
Deepa Gahlot on Suddha, an award winning Tulu film

Deepa Gahlot on Suddha, an award winning Tulu film


Can you make a film for less than a shoestring? Made with Rs 1.5 lakh, shot on a mini-DV camera, on location, with non-professional actors, PN Ramchandra’s Tulu feature film Suddha (The Cleansing Rites) won  the award for Best Film (Indian Competition) at the Osian’s-Cinefan Film Festival in Delhi,  for its poetic, evocative and uncompromising style reflecting the moods of contemporary India.


It was invited to the Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival (Stuttgart), Split Film Festival (Croatia) and Thrissur, Kolkata and Chennai film festivals.


Suddha is the first film in Tulu (a language spoken in two districts of Karnataka) to have garnered so much acclaim. In 35 years of Tulu cinema, just 30 films have been made, the last being Koti Chennaiya, made a few months ago, which released in just one theatre and flopped.


Ramchandra, a graduate from the Film and Television Institute in 1991, says, “We cut characters, mikes,  artificial lights and even the number of shooting days,” he writes in his blog. The budget was now a ‘pathetic’ Rs 1.5 lakh, and the film was completed in 17 days—five days behind schedule. (Transferring it to celluloid would have cost  ten times the budget.)


Suddha is a moving, well told  story about a crumbling feudal family in coastal Karnataka,  and technically flawless. Ramchandra says he decided  to make the film in Tulu and not the more widely spoken Kannada, because “the milieu demanded it. The gutthu or the feudal landlord system was more prevalent  in Tulu-speaking areas.”


He is now exploring DVD and Internet download options. Besides, he is working on a script about a Tulu migrant in an Udipi restaurant in Mumbai, and editing a documentary called Mumbai Montage about migrants from Karnataka in Mumbai, from a rag picker to   George Fernandes. 

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