When Kerala flood heroes become Chekuttys: Now, a short film on the Chedamangalam doll

Gopinath Parayil and Lakshmi Menon – the people behind Chekutty – hope that there will be more such short films telling positive stories from Kerala.
When Kerala flood heroes become Chekuttys: Now, a short film on the Chedamangalam doll
When Kerala flood heroes become Chekuttys: Now, a short film on the Chedamangalam doll
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For a few days it was fun. The monsoon rains that'd come to Kerala every June and stay on till September. But by mid-August, the flood came. The flood that Kerala would painfully remember for months to come. Among the many losses were the weaving community's livelihoods, washed away in the flood, affecting more than 300 families in Chedamangalam. It is from there that the Chekutty doll was created - the handloom ruins turning into a smiling little face, sold to thousands across the world.

Many stories came of Chekutty, the doll that brought hope back to many lost lives. But now the two people who had thought it up - Gopinath Parayil and Lakshmi Menon - decided they will tell the story too - through a crowdsourced four-minute film, released on Women's Day, Kerala – The Land of Chekutty.

"We wanted to tell that story and also the story of how Kerala survived. Kerala has always been a much-loved tourist destination but stories of the flood have kept many away. We wanted to promote the destination by inviting positive stories, and hope there would be more such short films,” says Lakshmi. That’s the next step. They’d be asking for one-minute positive stories on anything they wish to talk about – flood related or otherwise.

Gopinath Parayil has more such films in his deck, Lakshmi says. He has given the voice over to Kerala – The Land of Chekutty. "This is where the story of Chekuttys began. Through crowdsourcing 50,000 volunteers in 9 countries, upcycled the ruined clothes into 1,20,000 plus Chekuttys, 360 dolls out of each worthless Saree, selling the Chekuttys raised the much-needed funds for the weavers," he says in the film.

Therefore, they call every person who did something for the flood, a Chekutty, says the director of the film, Harshad Ali. Pokkali for e.g. is a rice variety that has survived three major floods since the 14th century. By resisting and being innovative the farmers are overcoming crisis and hence becoming Chekuttys themselves. “The film is about the spirit of the movement,” Harshad adds. The film ends with a visual of these Pokkali farmers. It isn’t the story of one village but of the 3.5 crore people that make Kerala.


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