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Kanthan The Lover Of Colour's asset is the social worker Daya Bai: Writer Pramod Koovery

Filmmaker Shareef Easa's directorial debut Kanthan The Lover Of Colour was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

There is a rhyme that is repeated in Kanthan The Lover of Colour — "The forest will take away the plants in the courtyard/Men will take away the trees on top of the mountain", which sets the tone for the concerns that first-time filmmaker Shareef Easa explores in his film.

At the world premiere of the film at the ongoing Kolkata International Film Festival, Easa spoke about the lives of the adivasis living in Wayanad, Kerala, drawing attention to their way of life being threatened and the atrocities faced by them. His film focuses on the Adiya community that lives a life in union with nature, bearing witness to the effects of the ravaging of forests and the profound impact all this has on the mind of a child.

Amongst the various tribal groups, the Adiya community follows a certain ideology and rituals in a world where modern men simply revamp theirs' in accordance to their circumstances and convenience. The film portrays life and survival, that is governed by rituals by a group of tribal people living at Thirunelli Colony in Wayanad.

Although deeply rooted in the community, its rhythms and way of life, the film encompasses much larger and contemporary concerns about the environment. The film is in the local dialect of the adivasis, Adiya, as well as in Malayalam, and includes the traditional songs of the community.

In a conversation with us, the screenplay writer of the film, Pramod Koovery talked about the journey of making the film and some of its themes. “This is not an entertainment movie, we are telling about the life of those living in Wayanad, Kerala, the dalit adivasi section of the people. The main asset of the film is the social worker Daya Bai, who acted in our film,” he said. Social activist Daya Bai has been working for the upliftment of tribals in India.

Talking about the centrality of language in the film, he said, “We are using the language which has no script. There are many problems shown in the film - farmer suicides and the resistance of life, even love.”

Koovery also revealed that the film only had non-actors in its cast. “All people in the film are adivasis living in the Adiya section and not professional actors,” he said.

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Kolkata International Film Festival