Malayali student wins British Royal Television Society award for cinematography

Jithin Majeed, 22 years old, won the award for his film ‘Moksha’, made on Varanasi.
Jithin Majeed
Jithin Majeed
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For the first two minutes, the screen is all black with white and yellow text passing through. A conversation is about to begin, the text tells you. From a distance, it seems, Patric Levy’s echoed voice is heard. The French man who lives in India for six months a year, a spiritual globetrotter studying and practicing religions.

When his voice disappears, the film begins: Moksha, directed and cinematographed by 22-year-old Jithin Majeed. This March, Jithin was to go to the United Kingdom to collect the Royal Television Society (RTS) Award for Cinematography for his work in Moksha. The RTS – a British based educational charity – is believed to be the oldest television society, set up in 1927.

But the COVID-19 situation prevented him from leaving his home in Kozhikode, where Jithin had come last October after the end of his cinematography course in London.

He made Moksha as his graduation film in early 2019, on Varanasi, the place he calls a ‘mysterious city near River Ganga’. Jithin watched a three and a half minute film by Dubai-based filmmaker and cinematographer Aeyaz on Varanasi and really loved that. “I wanted to approach the visual aspect of it. People have a different idea about life and death in this place. Pilgrims go to die there. To get salvation. It was really intriguing for me and I aimed this film for people in the West,” Jithin says, on a call from Kozhikode.

Still from Moksha

The film contains a long byte by an American called Jeremy Altman who had moved to India in 1997, and later made Varanasi his home. There is also a long byte by an Indian, who says that their forefathers did something great for them by giving birth to them in Varanasi.

As for Jithin, there is this scroll of text at the beginning: “of a perplexed mind's inquisitiveness on life and its absence.”

He is now working for a London company from home – the place he had earlier done internship for. “It was three good years in London (at the university). I went on a partial scholarship,” says Jithin.

The day he found out about the university – Regent’s -- was the last date he could apply for the course. For months before that, after finishing school, Jithin had tried other options. His first choice was the National Institute of Design, which he didn’t get through, and then Srishti, which he didn’t like after joining. “My dad – a sailor who has been all over the world – suggested that I apply to a UK university. We have lived for four years in the UK, when I was a child. So I had a sentimental value for the place,” Jithin says.

He had a month after application to clear several rounds of interviews and paper submission, get a visa and travel to London.

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