Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s debut feature film, “Swayamvaram,” screened in 1972. The film’s title, which means “One’s Own Choice,” won him the National Award for Best Film. It deals with the complexities of living in an urban environment and portrays the protagonist’s struggle to maintain a meaningful relationship with his wife while battling poverty.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan is a prominent Indian filmmaker known for his realistic and issue-based filmmaking. His best-known works include “Elippathayam” (Rat-Trap), “Mathilukal” (The Walls), and “Nizhalkkuthu” (Shadow Kill).
Gopalakrishnan was born into a family of patrons of the classical dance form Kathakali. He studied cinema at the Film Institute of India (now the Film and Television Institute of India) in Pune and obtained a diploma in 1965. Later, he founded the Chitralekha Film Cooperative in Thiruvananthapuram, which produced and distributed films as an alternative source of inspiration to the commercial Malayalam movie industry based in Kochi, Kerala, India. He also established the Chitralekha Film Society, which was the first of many organizations that showcased classic and artistically ambitious films from India and the West.
“Rat-Trap” examines the end of feudalism in Kerala through one family’s fall from power. “The Walls” is set in a British colonial prison in the 1940s and is about a political activist who falls in love with an unseen woman in a neighboring prison after hearing her voice. Gopalakrishnan’s “Kathapurushan” (“The Man of the Story”) examines the life of a communist activist from 1937 to 1980 and won the National Award for Best Film. In “Shadow Kill,” a hangman grapples with the knowledge that he executed an innocent man. Gopalakrishnan’s later films included “Naalu Pennungal” (Four Women), based on short stories by Indian writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, and the family drama “Pinneyum” (Once Again).- WILLIAMSJI MAVELI