Interestingly, Rima's love for books has seen her start a lending library in her dance studio.

Malayalam cine stars talk books patriotism and feminism at Sharjah Book Fair
news Book Fair Monday, November 06, 2017 - 15:07

Over 2,000 expat Malayalis thronged the Sharjah International Book Fair as popular Malayalam film personalities – filmmakers Kamal, Aashiq Abu and actors Rima Kallingal and Anoop Menon – came together to celebrate not just cinema, but the written word as well. They released their own books, talked about serious issues like the patriotism debate, feminism and much more.

While director Kamal re-launched his autobiography on an international stage, Anoop Menon introduced the audience to his travelogue "Bhramayathrikan." Husband-wife duo Aashiq Abu and Rima Kallingal released their book called ”Athente Hridayam Ayirunnu” (That was My Heart) at the fair over the weekend.

Speaking about his memoir "Athmavin Pusthakathalin", Kamal said, “My book, which has already been released in India, is an autobiography. It is about my journey in cinema, especially the early years.”

Asked what set his travel diary apart from legendary litterateurs like SK Pottekkatt, Anoop Menon said, "One can't compare with greats like Pottekkatt sir or Raveendran sir's “Raveendrante Yatrakal.” The one difference is that I haven't gone too much into historical matters, the people whom I came across in my journeys are the main narrative.”

“Every milestone in my journey is a person. Even all of you have come across people in your travels, but have not penned it down. I haven't seen anything different from what all of you might have seen during your travels. It is an interactive book and you might find people in it that you may have come across in your journeys," he said.

"It includes places like London, Italy, Russia, places across India and China – countries I have travelled to. I would say it's an interactive travelogue," he added.

According to Ashiq Abu, his book with his wife is a compilation of many things to do with love. "It's a compilation of references to love across all art forms, whether it's literature, theatre, novels, cinema, poetic references, cinema dialogues, theatre dialogues..." he explained.

Interestingly, Rima's love for books has seen her start a lending library in her dance studio.

"Reading is something I've grown up with, a habit that gives me a lot of happiness and taught me to dream. I used to read books borrowing from a lending library, so that's how we started off in a corner of my dance studio. I think there is a lot of energy, freshness and depth that a library brings with it in my studio. There are little children who come back every day to take new books ..that's beautiful," she said.

The focus soon turned from books to all things political as the film personalities fielded questions from the large audience.

Kamal, who was last year hounded by the state Bharatiya Janata Party over the singing of the national anthem, was asked his view on the latest Supreme Court observation that people do not need to stand up for the national anthem in cinema halls to prove their patriotism.

"On occasions when our democracy faces troubled times, we find relief in judiciary. I don't think patriotism is something which should be drummed into people forcibly. I believe that my love for my country and my patriotism is something that others really do not need to question," he stated.

Interestingly, three Malayali nurses working in the UAE asked Rima a question through video, having been inspired by Rima's portrayal of a nurse and a woman wronged in "22 Female Kottayam." They asked how ordinary women should deal with barriers in the form of societal norms in everyday life and emerge as bold individuals in society.

Rima pointed straight at leading dubbing artist and actor Bhagyalaksmi in the audience as said: "Bhagyalakshmi chechi here is an example – 35 years’ illustrious career, she has taken strong stands, has a never say die attitude, you can't fight her down. She is someone who has broken barriers and made a career and life for herself. That is how I would like to live my life, that is how all women should live."

"It's not about being put into a set mould of men or women. As humans, we should have love in our heart, be able to dream, live the way we want, explore our own personality, travel and do what our heart wants without barriers," she stressed.

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