The Malayalam short, screened at the IDSFFK, shows the magic that conversation between two strangers could produce.

A man in police uniform and a younger man in t shirt and shorts are riding on a motorbike. the photo shows their side profile and behind them is an animated picture of buildingsPoster of Kootuprathi
Flix Film Festival Tuesday, September 06, 2022 - 14:23

In her interview to the TNM at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), editor and documentary maker Reena Mohan said she was surprised to learn about the number of short films and documentaries that get made in Kerala every year. For someone in the state, following the scene, it wouldn’t be so astonishing. There are so many short films that you, unknowingly, form a prejudice against them – after all everything can’t be so great. But then you come across a short fiction film that, by being so simple and straightforward, knocks you off your feet. Kootuprathi or Partner In Crime, screened at the IDSFFK, is one such.

There is no heavy drama, no cinematic tricks. Just good old conversation, between a very unlikely pair: a middle-aged policeman and a male college student. That’s where the script began from, says the young director Nikhil Sudersanan. “The thought began there, to have a conversation between two strangers. Not friends, because that would be a different story,” Nikhil says.

It matters that they are strangers; that they are laying bare their life stories in a matter of minutes. That of course is a byproduct of sharing a bottle of alcohol between them. The script, in this manner, moves smoothly. You don’t think of the ‘why’s – why are they talking so much, how are they ok with it – because the conversation simply flows. A tiny version of the magic you see in the Before movie series. Baiju Bala and Majeed playing respectively the older and the younger man are an absolute joy to watch.

“We began with that conversation and went back from there to build their individual stories,” Nikhil recounts. That part has a bit of drama, not particularly appealing, but it is nice the way it is worked into the conversation.

It is a question why Nikhil didn’t choose a woman to play one of the parts. Perhaps if it were an older policewoman and a male student, or vice-versa, what then? But Nikhil says that would have been another story, a different film.

This is his third film as a director. The first one, See-saw, came before he went to study editing at the KR Narayanan Film Institute. The second, Inertia, came during the course.

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