• Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed | The News Minute | March 8, 2015 | 9:20 am IST Nestled away from the public glare, about 60 km from Chennai lies the Gudiyam caves - a touristic spot for many wanting to get away from the hustle -buslte of city life. A getaway spot in an area surrounded by rural life, this prehistoric rock shelter caught the eye of a Chennai fine arts student cum filmmaker, Ramesh Yanthra who has been responsible for coming up with a documentary on the caves. It took three years to make. But the efforts to make the documentary a success with patience and detail have not gone waste. Sent on a whim as an entry to the Cannes Film festival, the short film has been picked to be screened during the festival this year. “One day in 2011 I found this place. We just visited it like tourists. That was when I saw a signboard that said it was one lakh years old where paleolithic people lived,” said Ramesh Yanthra. That was when the interest in the caves sparked for him. Though the idea was Ramesh’s, the decision to make it into a short film came from the movie’s co-producer Vasanthakumar Venkatachalam who is also the Director of Photography for it. “Its not a video documentary, its a documentary movie. We are eligible for theatrical projection. that is essential for international movie festival,” said Ramesh. Explaining some of the interesting facts their research brought up, he said that unlike the dates given on the sign board at the caves, collected stone tools at the spot had been dated to around 200,000 years ago - which pushes the date back by a lakh years. Investigated first by British geologist in 1864, Robert Bruce Foote, it was later documented by the Geological Survey of India memoir in 1873. Not only has Ramesh’s research found interesting factors about the archaeological significance, geological age of the caves , it also focuses on the importance of protection by the ASI or the State archaeology department. “A deity has been installed here,” he said explaining the disregard with which the rock shelters with much historical importance were considered. “The local people using this place as a holy place, as they have placed one deity statue and doing rituals, cooking and damaging the site making cement steps and dumping the garbage under this rock shelter.… drinking alcohol has been a big den for the drug abusers and leaving a lot of left overs which is contaminated and spoiling the entire area..“ writes Ramesh in his director’s note. “We also captured the appeal for conservation,” said Ramesh explaining the main goal behind the documentary.  (Ramesh and Vasanth in the backdrop of the caves) The website for Ramesh Yanthra's projects can be found here. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute