In a recent interview to a weekly, Adoor has gone after veteran filmmaker KP Kumaran with whom he collaborated for 'Swayamvaram'.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan holding a mic
Flix Opinion Friday, August 28, 2020 - 17:21

Adoor Gopalakrishnan rants when he talks about KP Kumaran, another veteran filmmaker and the former co-writer of Swayamvaram. And this time, it's in the third degree, quite unusual and unheard of. However, Adoor doesn't know that such acts only deflate his stature worldwide as a renowned filmmaker. He didn't spare a thought for KP Kumaran in his coarse war of words.

It has become almost a vulgar display of imperious behaviour to other filmmakers. The stories jog back to almost half a century. What went up the wall now is a recent interview of Adoor's which appeared in a mainstream weekly (Mathrubhumi Weekly Dt Aug 16, 2020). In that, he hit Kumaran with below the belt, unfounded allegations that have not been raised so far. The title of the interview read: My Greatest Mistake Committed in Life - Adding His Name as a Co-Screenwriter.

What else is needed to arouse the curiousity of a reader? What has made Adoor angry? Why is he at loggerheads with Kumaran? No one knows exactly what has pricked him. He stated that Kumaran was only a 'helper' who had been asked to write down and record the script dictated by him. History, as we have heard from older people, says that Kumaran also had an equal part to play in completing the movie, Swayamvaram, which later turned out to be an important juncture in the history of Malayalam movies. 

Swayamvaram, though not got considered for the main State Awards, fetched top-most laurels at the national level in 1973. It bagged the top National Awards for the best feature film, director, actress and cinematographer. The only reason one, could guess, for the intense hostility that Adoor exhibits towards Kumaran is the latter's short movie The Rock, which of hardly two minutes, that fetched a gold medal at the Expo'72 Tokyo Film Festival. That was great news for Kerala and the whole of India to be proud of. Even the media at the national level had carried the news, making Adoor blow his top. That was just before Swayamvaram's national recognition, probably why Adoor was unhappy. There seems to have started his displeasure which hasn't ended even after more than four decades.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan is a great name in Indian cinema. He is respected as one of the masters of cinema across the world. But, he has never been seen promoting movies made by others from Kerala. He's the author of a worn-out slogan, "Cinema is the art of the Director''. Although that slogan was celebrated decades ago, the new tech-revolution in cinema has rewritten that slogan into a product of plural contributions. Cinema now is no doubt a collective art and the product of a big group, thanks to the long and never-ending list of people, shown as an add-on to the titles. 

Adoor is a product of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He still believes that only an academic pass-out can be licensed to make or judge a movie. If we look at the global scenario, a good number of film personalities have no official qualifications to fall back on other than their experience. Adoor, however, always finds fault with others' filmmaking. He always has bones to pick with the jury when his films fail to fetch recognitions. He never appreciates movies made by others.

He was not on good terms with directors like G Aravindan, MT Vasudevan Nair, KG George etc., who were of his time. He didn't even spare Dr Biju, much younger to his generation, a filmmaker from his place, who fought many a battle to come up. He even laughed at Biju's profession and suggested that he was supposed to concentrate on treating people, and not make movies. Both of them would indulge in their share of mudslinging wherever they met.

Adoor also tried to belittle the part played by actor Sharada (called 'Urvasi' Sharada for winning the National Award for Best Actress, then called Urvasi Award), by revealing the 'unbearable remuneration' she asked for at the time of making Swayamvaram.  When the remuneration is a 'secret contract' between the actor and maker, it was so untoward for a director to reveal it at a venue set to felicitate her.

KP Kumaran is not a man of straw as Adoor thinks. He has proved his mettle not only in making a number of movies, he is well versed in history and world politics. He has written a lot in various publications on diverse subjects, including literature. He refused to take up many lucrative offers extended by governments for fear of losing his working freedom. Going through a few chapters of his autobiography, I failed to spot any personal allegations against any of his friends.

It's quite unfortunate and unbecoming of a man like Adoor to make new allegations against his fellow beings that hurt many people around him. It's an unhealthy game, with none of his friends coming forward to put a lid on, a game where no one wins.

Views expressed are author's own.

Suresh Nellikode has written fiction for Malayalam periodicals like Mathrubhumi and Kalakaumudi. He's also been a contributor for The New Indian Express and Khaleej Times. He currently lives in Canada.

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