Time Is Another Name Of Love

Love is about memories and rememberence. Love is also about knowing Saba - the 'suchness of things'. Time is the medium where Saba is recorded. Yet, at the same time, Saba is the 'imprint of time' on things and beings. When one truly gets over the fear of time, then he/she can say that "I am in Love" or "I am alive". Love is the true unconditional existence.

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Location: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

I believe in Love

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remembering G Aravindan

[Introductory remarks prior to the G Aravindan Memorial Lecture by Amos Gitai at IFFK 2008]

Like cinema, remembrance is an act of love. To remember is to love and also to live. To live is also to imagine and to create. Imagination and images are the two most important elements of human existence and human civilization. Without images and memories there will be no love, no history. Without imagination there will be no civilization.

Today we are here to remember one of the most loved and respected filmmakers of Kerala – G Aravindan. Every film festival in our small but beautiful city evokes the gentle and enigmatic presence of a creator and a great human being. Whoever had the fortune to interact with G Aravindan, will never forget his compassionate and benevolent presence.

G Aravindan lived his life and created his multi faceted work of art based on the principles of love and sacrifice. He once said, “If there is any aim for art it is to create a compassionate and strong humanity”. Yes, from Uttarayanam to Vasthuhara all his films made us remember the need for a compassionate and strong humanity. Like any other great artist G Aravindan’s film also spoke to us about the absence of a loving and compassionate society, and the need for love.

Biographical sketch:

Born in Kottayam, Kerala, G Aravindan was well known to the readers of Kerala through his cartoon serial Cheriya Manushyarum Valya Lokavum (Small Men and the Big World), which appeared in the Mathrubhoomi weeklyduring the early 1960s, even before he started with films. The cartoon serial chronicled the adventures of its characters, Ramu and Guruji and noted for its piercing humor and socio-political comments. At a point of time, Aravindan also got engaged with theatre and music. He loved to sing Tagore songs. Later he became associated with eminent theatre figures like CN Sreekantan Nair and Kavalam Narayanan Panikker. Avanavan Kadamba born out of association with Kavalam has become a major theater production in Kerala and it is still remembered by Malayalees.

Aravindan was part of a group of modernist artist based in Kozhikode, represented particularly by artist Devan, playwright Thikkodiyan and writer Pattathuvila Karunakaran. Aravindan's first film, Uttarayanam came out of this associations and his early association with Chitralekha Film Society.

From his first film Uttarayanam (1974) to his last film Vasthuhara (1990) Aravindan kept changing his cinematic forms consistently during his film career spanning almost fifteen years. Aravindan successfully went beyond the limits and styles of filmmaking created by the new wave filmmakers of that time. This journey towards new facets of narrative included current incidents, history, myths and traditional stories. He also occasionally composed music for other filmmakers like Pavitran’s Yaro Oral and Shaji’s Piravi.

His feature works Include: Uttarayanam, Kanchana Seeta, Thampu, Kummatty, Estheppan, Pokkuveyil, Chidambaram, Oridathu, Marattam, Unni and Vasthuhara. His documentary films include: Sahaja, The Seer Who Walks Alone, The Brown Landscape, Contours of Linear Rhythm and Anadi-Dhara

In a personal level Aravindettan is the one who taught me the meaning of true spirituality. He through his life and creations showed me the interconnectedness of all things. He showed me the interconnectedness of man to man and man to nature. Observing his life I too learned how to be compassionate and loving towards fellow human beings. His cinema taught me to be big-hearted among men with tiny souls.

I was always attracted to the cinema of Aravindan from the day I saw Uttarayanam. I still remember the image of the dead face of the father with crawling ants. I still remember the dialogue from the film ‘Asking questions is more important than finding answers” or ‘There will be a time when the spoken word of the other will be appreciated like music” etc.

Is it not the two fundamental principles of art itself? Asking questions [to be active] and trying to evoke the essence of beauty. Asking questions about the essence of hope and harmony that which creates this beauty? It is no wonder that Dostoyevsky once said “Beauty will save the world”.

Please, it is not my intention to say that an artist should always show only the beautiful. No… Never…

How can be the images of fleeing refugees from a war in Vasthuhara be termed as beautiful? How can the agony written in the faces of two great artists – Gopi and Smitha Pattil in the climax sequence of Chithambaram be termed as beautiful? How can be the dispossessed wailings of a displaced humanity in the end of Vasthuhara be termed as beautiful? This essence of beauty lies in the final moments of the experience of that work of art. At that moment of absolution a work of art reveals the beauty of creation and becomes a “Mirror of Love” like the “Mirror” of Sri Narayana Guru.

I have always thought that any great work of art is a ‘mirror of love’ and Aravindettaan’s films always stood as one fine example. From my experience, I have seen more spirituality in a cinema hall than in a church. As Andrei Tarkovsky said, cinema or any other work of art is probably the evidence of a Creator. Aravindettaan’s cinema also evoked that higher connection to the Divine.

It is not my intention to dwell deep into the aesthetics of Aravindettaan’s cinema. Many critics have eloquently and scholarly wrote on his cinema. From my experience of seeing 100 classics cinema at one go in the 1995 Soorya Film Festival, G Aravindan’s films stand among the best cinematic creations of the world. He is our most poetic, original and truly experimental filmmaker. His cinematic genius lies in the power of simplicity. Like a Zen monk he is a master of the principle of ‘MINIMUM’. His cinema always tried to chisel out the inessentials. Like a haiku poem his cinema revealed the true essence of nature and people. It is a paradox that we tend to forget that the long lasting creations of human civilizations like pyramids are made from the art of simplicity.

Let me now recount one incident. I was shooting with him for a documentary on Bharathanatyam. It was a three-day shoot of just clouds, wind, grass, light etc. And we were going to Ponmudi to shoot the jungle in different moods. I reached his home early in the morning at 5 am. As he came to the car, he gave me a paper cutting and said, “Sunny you must read this interview.” I just glanced at the paper in the back seat light of his black Ambassador car. I managed to read the name of Vilmos Zigmond. One of the finest cameramen of Hollywood!! I was very surprised at why Aravindettan gave me a Hollywood cameraman’s interview to read!!! Well, after the shoot I went back and read the interview in its entirety. One line from that interview became my guiding principle in cinematography. Vilmos Zigmond says, “No image can be more beautiful than its meaning”


Blogger jayarajmurukkumpuzha said...

nanmakal nerunnu.............

1:22 PM  
Blogger Biju said...

Dear Sunny,

Could you please tell me where we can get DVDs of Aravindan films like Marattom, Chidambaram, Esthappan, etc?


12:12 PM  
Blogger Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...

Nicely Written Sir!

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ravi D Deshpande said...

Super like

7:14 PM  
Blogger Ravi D Deshpande said...

Soooper like!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Suresh Nellikode said...

A befitting tribute!

9:26 PM  

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