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Nadiyude Moonaam Kara preview: Lyrical film that delves into themes of existentialist cinema

Created as a classroom project for students of St Joseph's College of Communication, the film is an adaptation of a short story by the Brazilian writer Joao Guimares Rosa.

Shriram Iyengar

Existentialism is a theme that has not often been explored in Indian cinema. It is a theme that finds strong resonance in this lyrical film by students of Changanacherry's St Joseph's College of Communication.

Based on the short story, The Third Bank of the River, by the Brazilian writer Joao Guimaraes Rosa, the film deals with anxiety, human bonds, and inescapable guilt through an absurd story. 

Guimaraes Rosa is known for his profoundly philosophical themes dealing with existentialism in particular, and this story is no different. Nadiyude Moonaam Kara excels in creating a universe that makes you question the rationality of people, and the purpose of existence. 

The film has been adapted to suit the backwaters of Kerala, and the location certainly does justice to the story. A man decides, on a whim, to build a boat and row away into the river. He never sets foot again on land. His only point of contact is his son, who keeps placing food on a rock for his father. The rest of the tale delves into the reason, the anxiety of his children, and, despite all, the continuous, never-ending flow of life.

The film is a lyrical and visual novella that flows with the rhythm of the backwaters. Visually serene, it tackles the metaphysical text of Guimaraes Rosa with a languor that is refreshing. Considering that Rosa is a writer very few people are familiar with, it is a praiseworthy effort. But the magic lies in the transposition of the story from Brazil to Kerala, bringing to it an authenticity and flavour. 

A film that talks through its visuals, the camera moves through the backwaters to create the mystery and abstraction that the story seeks. The story also finds a voice in Eby (Sanal Aman) and Maria (Kani Kanmani Kusruti), the two children of Oudhachaayan (Jayapalan). They are also the key narrators through whose eyes we see the story unfold. 

Is there a reason to every action taken by men? Does attachment become a burden? Can someone escape the world simply by not participating in it? These questions slink through the narrative flow of Nadiyuda Moondram Kara. 

The cinematography and visual storytelling style are reasons alone to watch this film. However, the faithful transposition of Guimaraes Rosa's story to the Indian backwaters, and the adaptation of a novella that is fairly unknown on these shores, adds to the attraction of this very flowing folktale.

Nadiyude Moonaam Kara will be screened at IAWRT India's Asian Women's Film Festival at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 9 am.

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IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival