The three films, one each in Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil, bring a unique mix of subjects and narratives to the screen.

Southern Tales Three poignant south Indian films shine at the 2016 MAMI film festivalScreenshot from trailer for "Railway Children"
Features Cinema Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 10:43

This year’s Mumbai Film Festival has been in the news for the choice of films in its lineup.  Amidst all the hype and clamour of the festival organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) that kicked off on October 20, three southern language films are quietly making their mark with a mixed bag of intense emotional stories.

One film each from Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil have made it to the top list at the festival in various categories. Here’s a quick glimpse at them:

“Railway Children”

This Kannada film is directed by Prithvi Konanur who had previously made the acclaimed “Alegalu”. Exploring the sensitive world of runaway children who adopt railway platforms as their homes, the film looks at the issue in the style of a docudrama with a documentary approach. The protagonist is 12-year-old Raju who gets onto a train to run away from his home and lands up in the dark world of underground trade alongside railway platforms.

The moving story shows him transcending his fear to become someone who gains the confidence to launch his own trade against the other kingpins. It also looks at the perils that these children face and the possible rehabilitation measures for them. Raju along with his accomplice Jollu gets into the murky establishment of drug abuse, using a substance called “solution”. It’s not just substance abuse – these children also face the constant threat of physical abuse and adopt drugs as a means of overcoming this fear and pain.

The film is adapted from the book “Rescuing Railway Children”, by Lalitha Iyer and Malcolm Harper as well as being based on a few real incidents. The indie film has been produced by Tindrum Beats of Udupi through crowd funding. Using non-actors, it is a fine example of the kind of parallel cinema that has started to slowly creep into Kannada films in the recent years. The film has been selected in the India Gold category that presents the best of contemporary Indian fiction and documentary feature films. Manohara K, Syed Pervez, Yash Shetty, Divya M.R., Karthik and Parimala are among the cast.

Watch the trailer for the film here:

The Narrow Path (“Ottayaal Paatha”)

This Malayalam film has already done rounds at many film festivals, including the 38th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) and deals with the precarious relationship between a father and a son.

Sarath Sabha plays Akhil, the unemployed son who has to constantly care for his crippled father Vikraman (K Kaladharan). However, the circumstances shift when his well-to-do girlfriend suggests that they both shift base to Bengaluru.

Akhil is torn between responsibility towards his father and the world of possibilities that await him in a whole new city. His decision forms the crux of the film coupled with how the two deal with the prospect of separation. The film is directed by Satish and Santosh Babusenan who had previously made the controversial “Chaayam Poosiya Veedu” or The Painted House which had run into trouble with the Censor Board over female nudity.

Talking to the Scroll about the film, the duo said, “The film is an internal exploration of the minds of two people, father and son. It is a fictional story. All of us have a hidden past, which we have to come to terms with, and when that happens, there is true freedom”. This film too is being screened in the India Gold category.

Watch the trailer here: 


“Sila Samayangalil” (Sometimes)

The Tamil social drama, made by Priyadarshan, deals with awareness about AIDS. The film follows eight people who are awaiting the results of their blood tests, which would determine the direction their lives will take in the future.

As the film progresses, stories from the characters’ past are also revealed. The film features a cast of exceptional performers like Prakash Raj, Sriya Reddy, Nassar and Ashok Selvan, while maestro Illayaraja has composed the music. 

This film is being screened in the Spotlight category at MAMI that “looks to recognise Indian cinema’s historical trajectories and explore its future”. The film produced by Prabhudeva and Amala Paul was previously selected to be screened in the final round of the 74th Annual Golden Globes awards.

Unlike the other two, this film has managed to garner a fair amount of mainstream attention, thanks to its prolific cast and crew, and is set for a commercial release very soon.

Watch the trailer here:

Besides these contemporary films MAMI is also organising special screenings of classics like Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s “Pinneyum (Once Again)” and John Abraham’s “Agraharathil Kazhuthai (Donkey in a Brahmin Village)”.

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