News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 Cartoons/Comics/Humor
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Asia-Pacific
Book Review
"Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema" Authored by Gautaman Bhaskaran
Reviewed by Dr Rathi Jafer, Director, Inko Centre
"Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema" by Gautaman Bhaskaran

As the subject of the biography, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, himself notes in his foreword, “a journalist is turning a biographer with this book”. The biography, Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema, is indeed Gautaman Bhaskaran’s debut work as a biographer or, as the biographer would prefer, an ‘author’.

Gopalakrishnan’s generously supportive foreword gently launches us into his world as lyrically described by Bhaskaran, who invites us on a journey to discover and ponder his subject’s simple, yet enigmatic life. It a marvellously written book on Gopalakrishnan’s life from birth, through adolescence and early youth, to middle age and beyond, playing out against the backdrop of momentous historical events of national, regional and local significance.

A biography is by definition an account of a person's life, a person currently living or dead, famous or unknown, accomplished or anonymous. A biography is a faithful account of the series of events that makes up that person's life. Bhaskaran’s biography of the well-known auteur-director Gopalakrishnan does this with élan. We are treated, with careful attention to detail, to Gopalakrishnan’s peopled universe. His parents, many uncles and aunts, peers and teachers and mentors all come alive as characters in their own right, their stories running parallel to the many stages in Gopalakrishnan’s own life.

Certain defining characteristics such as Gopalakrishnan’s love for Kathakali or the abiding passion for theatre are captured from their inception: Gopalakrishnan sitting on his mother Gouri Kunjamma’s lap watching in wonder the spectacle of this ancient ritualistic theatre form unfold, and how his early interest in theatre developed as a result of his family’s love for most things artistic- theatre, music, dance and even the art of performing magicians! The descriptions of such momentous ‘beginnings’ are often followed by the biographer’s authorial comments:

His earliest memories of Kathakali are perhaps of brightly painted faces, puffed up costumes and men with slow, deliberate stylized action enacting a story with rhythmic eye movements and arm gesticulations. Secure in his mother’s lap, he would watch a presentation, perhaps wide-eyed… The little lad must have imbibed and retained a lot of this drama.

Talking of his first celluloid feature, Swayamvaram, Bhaskaran notes: I suppose even at that point in time, his heart was in theatre. His first love really. And it must have taken him quite an attempt to pull himself completely away from it…For him, life had certainly been a drama (it still is), and his world, a stage. People made their entries and their exits while Gopalakrishnan stood by watching them. He thought about them, analyzed them…. And he created out of them unforgettable characters…

The famous Victorian satirical writer, essayist and historian, Thomas Carlyle, viewed biography as part of history. Carlyle asserted that the lives of great human beings were essential to understanding society and its institutions. Bhaskaran’s biography not only outlines both the ebb and flow of Gopalakrishnan’s life, but also, in the process, allows us to walk through certain chapters of history. Certain spaces, organisations and people come alive almost like alternative film-reels, running parallel to the main story. There is a reference to an India before and after the Quit India Movement. The idealism of Gandhigram comes alive; the magic of the Film and Television Institute at, Pune unfolds. We feel the presence of Satyajit Ray and the inimitable Ritwick Ghatak as their life stories and powerful influences are drawn out with deft strokes by the biographer.

One could argue that this is a tiresome technique that can distract the reader from the main story at hand. But it is precisely this very technique of dispensing with chronology to freely rock back and forth, between the past and the present, that holds and, indeed, piques the reader’s interest. It is almost as if Bhaskaran was scripting for cinema, telling us the life story of Adoor Gopalakrishnan through free flowing frames that defy the logic of linearity. When Bhaskaran describes Adoor’s dramatic birth; when he describes the influence of folk arts, especially Kathakali; when he talks of Gopalakrishnan’s attempt to start the film society movement in Kerala — images and sounds rather than words fly off the pages of the book. It might not really be too hard a task now for any aspiring filmmaker to borrow material from Bhaskaran’s authorized biography to depict the story through the medium of cinema.

The latter half of the biography is devoted to the presentation of Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s films, all 11 of them, starting with Swayamvaram (One’s Own Choice) that “stormed Kerala’s conservative city of celluloid” with its plot too radical for the early 1970’s in India. This part of the book will certainly benefit students, researchers and anyone else who is interested in getting deeper into the world of Adoor’s cinema.

The transition from the life story in the first half of the book to a lifetime’s oeuvre in the second half is abrupt. But this sense of unease is short lived. For as one gets deeper into the second half of the book, with its careful attention to film graphic details, it not the academic research as much as the interweaving of the who, the how and the what went into the making of each film that grips the reader’s attention. The suggestion that the “idea for Swayamvaram may have been triggered by Ghatak’s Subarnarekha” ; the delightful characters in Kodiyettam; the symbolic setting free of Gopalakrishnan with Elippathayam; Adoor’s obsession with casting as a “vital element of good cinema”; the controversy that courted Mukhamukham; the awards that trailed almost every film, the festival circuits that the films circumnavigated and the discussions that inevitably followed are the parallel stories that make this second section absorbing, descriptive and even reflective.

What Bhaskaran does not do — and Gopalakrishnan thanks him for this — is attempt to simply paraphrase the auteur-director’s work. He brings in opinions and reactions to Adoor’s work, but largely refrains from being analytical about the films. It is only in the Preface to the book that some degree of authorial analysis prevails, but that too is broad sweep rather than tooth-comb in its approach. Here are some random references: “Gopalakrishnan’s cinema is often filled with humour that is neither lurid nor loud…many of his male characters are weak…Gopalakrishnan’s cinema is subtle, yet forceful… he is a reluctant speaker, and this unwillingness to speak much is apparent in his work… One of the most critically acclaimed directors after Satyajit Ray, Gopalakrishnan’s cinema is rooted in the Kerala milieu and often mirrors the community’s concerns… “his works draw universal appreciation.”

Throughout the biography one is aware that the biographer finds his subject compelling. “The man’s work is fascinating” is the refrain that runs through the book. Bhaskaran’s obvious admiration for his subject could have easily tipped this book over, hagiography replacing biography. It is to Gautaman Bhaskaran’s credit that the book remains true to his aim of being “descriptive and informative”, its asides and air of informality, putting in place a structure of checks and balances.

True to this aim, the book does succeed in whetting one’s appetite for Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s cinema. For the uninitiated, it is an invitation to discover. For those already familiar with this Dada Saheb Phalke, Padma Vibhushan award-winning director’s oeuvre, it is a call to recollect and reconnect.

Dr Rathi Jafer is currently Director of the Inko Centre (Korean Cultural Centre), in Chennai, India



Related Articles
    Tiger Man Mike Pandey
    Egypt's First Edition of El Gouna Film ...
    El Gouna Film Festival Opens with Sheikh ...
    New Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival to Add ...
    India Stands Shamed after Racial Attacks near ...
    The Dashing Pedro Almodovar to Chair Cannes ...
    Korean Cinema Comes to Chennai in India
    The Horror of Custodial Death
    Modi Is the Man We Need in India
    Mumbai’s Child King
    The Cocktail at Cannes
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Hollywood Note
    Mumbai Terrorized Again
    Venice Lines Up Impressive Jury
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Delightful Note
    No Indian Movie at the Festival
    Meaningless Film Censorship
    This Bloody Life!
    Mumbai and Pusan Film Fest Establish Ties
    On Road, in Rage
    India Picks Wrong Films for Oscars
    Robert De Niro to Head Cannes Film Fest Jury
    Someone Killed Jessica, But of Course!
    Middle Eastern Cinema Hits Hard
    Dubai Film Fest Opener
    Dubai Film Fest to Unravel Diverse Selection
    Indian Police Cut Corners to Tackle Crime
    Goa Festival Not God's Own
    "West Is West" Sets IFFI Sailing
    Fine Cinema at the Coming Dubai Film Festival
    "The King's Speech" to Set the Fest Rolling
    Abu Dhabi Film Festival a Fantastic Mix of ...
    The Venetian Storm
    Frieda's Venice
    Jafar Panahi's Music Soothes Souls
    "Black Swan" Opens Venice Festival
    Festival to Bounce with Youthful Energy
    Shame and Scandal Plague Commonwealth Games
    Child Needs Compassion, Not Cane
    A Beast Called Beauty
    Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema
    Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Crime Called Bhopal
    Honour Killings Are India's Shame
    Cannes Film Festival And Poetry
    Cannes More Art Than Glamour This Time
    An Indian Pilgrimage to Cannes
    Maoist Rebellion in India
    Asians to Carry the Torch at Cannes
    Cannes Film Festival and Probables
    "Robin Hood" to Open Cannes Film Festival
    Persecution of Artists
    The Only Two Real Races This Year
    Curry Bashing in Australia
    US Director Tim Burton to Lead Cannes Jury
    India's Car Boom Creates Its Own Chaos
    Making Idiots Out of Men
    Indian Girls Find Paris Hilton’s Shoes Too Hot
    Mexican Film Wins Top Prize at Marrakech
    Ben Kingsley Hopes to Be an Envoy for Cinema
    Movie Director Hopes Obama Would Solve the ...
    Nandita Das on Marrakech Jury
    A Decaying Film Festival
    Marrakech Festival a Boon for Local Cinema
    Panorama Selection Questionable
    IFFI to Open on a Note of Visual Lyricism
    South Korea to Be Focus at the Film Fest
    Dalai Lama’s Tawang Visit Vexes Beijing
    Why Mumbai Film Fest Scores over Goa
    Mumbai’s Young Movie Critics Ready to Tear ...
    India Is Still Hungry for Food
    Honor Killing through Lens at Mumbai Festival
    11th Mumbai Film Festival to Open with Matt ...
    Film Festival to Showcase Some Gems
    Can India Host 2010 Commonwealth Games?
    A New Irritant in India-China Ties
    The Venetian Sorrow
    The Tiger War
    Israeli War Film Wins Venice’s Top Golden Lion
    Politicians Livid over Festival Movie
    "Bad Lieutenant" Creates Bad Blood between Two ...
    Clooney and Damon Star Attractions at Venice
    Muslim Bashing Must End
    Mumbai Film Festival Prizes to Be among the ...
    An Indian Juror in De Sica Land
    India's Gays Can Now Love without Fear
    Moore's "Capitalism," 70 Other Films to ...
    An Indian Summer at the Lagoon City
    Festival May Be Strong on European Fare
    A Tamil Film with a Difference
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: But ...
    India Is Racist Too
    Hollywood Bungles in Bollywood
    The Tragic Tale of the Indian Tiger
    Cannes Jury Honors Chilling Tales
    Lars Von Trier’s Sex and Horror
    Gems and the Cannes Film Festival
    Market and the Cannes Film Festival
    Keats Poetry, Campion’s Reading
    Lou Ye’s Controversial Disaster
    Clash of Titans on the Croisette
    Sexy Sirens and Political Propagandists
    Is Sharmila Tagore the Right Choice for Cannes ...
    The Stars in Cannes’ Dark Skies
    Cannes Courts Controversy
    Indian Elections: A Circus of Villains
    Festival Unveils Lineup of Masters
    Beyond Bollywood’s Melodramatic Mishmash
    India's Infrastructure at Breaking Point
    Guessing the Festival Goodies
    Kate Winslet the New Face of Brilliance
    Tarantino’s ‘Basterds’ to Spit Fire at Fest
    Animated Film, Up, to Open Festival
    Smoking Screen
    Oscar-Rich Penelope Set to Master English
    Cannes Honours Clint Eastwood
    Renowned French Star to Chair Cannes Jury
    Fable of Mr Benjamin Button: Riveting Cinema
    The Mangalore Molest
    Aamir Khan Film Is a Bad Copy
    It May Well Be the End of Agony in Sri Lanka
    Woody Allen’s "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
    International Film Festival of India
    Mumbai Terror
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival Has Grown
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival
    Marrakech International Film Festival
    Shambled Secularism
    Benegal’s Sajjanpur
    Birdwatchers
    Venice Festival Blues
    Venice under the Hollywood Spell ?
    A Riveting Movie on Islam's Crisis
    Venice Festival a Haven for World Premieres
    Pakistani Films Come to India, at Last!
    Tamil Super Hero Rises Again
    The Comic Fantasy
    The Smoking Screen!
    Bollywood and Beyond at Stuttgart
    New Film May Spell Hope for Bollywood
    Indian Cinema Feeds Deceit
    An Indian Film on an American Power Plant
    India Not At Cannes
    Cannes Line-Up
    Writer Taslima Nasreen Forced Out of India
    India Inspires World Fashion
    Mills & Boon
    "Jodhaa Akbar" Creates Controversy in India
    Sania Mirza Subject to Ridicule in Native India
    Sarkozy and Bruni Love Causes Moral Outrage
    India and the Oscars
    Marrakech International Film Festival Reviewed
    Paranoid Park
    Cannes 2007: Killings
    The Spy Case
    The Good and the Not So Good
    Bollywood Superman
    First Kashmiri Film in 20 Years
    Chinese Influence Seems Unstoppable
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Minimalism, Too
    Cannes Fest Prizes
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Great Delights
    The Da Vinci Code
    Missing Tigers
    The Despair of Tibetans
    Trilateral Stratagem To Slow China's Growth
    Sri Lanka Crisis
    Hollywood Movies Doing Well In India
    Peace Pipe
    Mangal Pandey: The Rising
    Honda Clash
    Bush-Manmohan Singh Pact
    Satyajit Ray, Still India's Most Noted Movie ...
    Ban on Cigarettes in India
    "Match Point" Excoriated by Britons
    Crisis In India’s Hindu Nationalist Party
    Manmohan Singh’s One Year
    58th Cannes International Film Festival Begins
    Indo-Pakistan Cricket Diplomacy
    U.S. Visa Refusal
    The 7th Deauville Asian Film Festival Closes
    Seedy Film Journalism
    Indian Tigers Butchered in Broad Daylight
    No Oscar for Scorsese, Yet Again
    Nepal in Turmoil As King Sacks PM Deuba
    History Repeats in Struggle for Free Press
    India Could Have Prevented Tsunami Deaths
    Argue over Freedom on Internet
    "City of Gold" Dubai Stands like Oasis in ...
    Towards a Solution to the Kashmir Problem
    India & China Rising
    Bush Victory and India
    Indian Robinhood
    After 9/11, World Links Muslim with Violence
    India's Great Heritage Taj Mahal in Danger
    "Kashmir": A Never Ending Thorny Issue
    The Village -- A Silly Joke
    Jakarta Bombing Aimed at Aussie ...
    Millions of Indians Go to Bed Hungry
    Sri Lanka's Ethnic War Knows No End
    Over 600 Tibetan Monks, Nuns Should Be Freed
    India's Schoolgirl Killer Hanged in Controversy
    3 Kidnapped Indians Endure Agonizing Torture
    Musharraf's Sets Deadline on Kashmir
    Usefulness of Nepalese Monarchy in Question
    Temple of Learning Turns into Grave of Death
    AIDS Keeps Threatening the Poor in Asia, Africa
    Fearful of Dowry Parents Kill Newborn Girls
    Hot Discussion on Death Penalty in India
    India's Flag of Democracy Kept Unfurled
    Politics Dominates Cannes Int'l Film Festival
    Intolerance Grows before India General Election
    Fears of Strife Continue in Sri Lanka
    Torture, Rape Occur in Indian Classroom
    World Leaders Must Take Stand against Nukes
    India's Cities Prosper as Country Folk Starve
    India, Pakistan Form Friendly Ties
    Cell Phones Bring Joy, Sorrow World Over


 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange