Charanya and Ponvannan in scenic Shanghai.
PONVANNAN IS an extremely happy man. He has reason to be. His film, ``Jameela,'' produced by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), was the only entry from India shown at the Shanghai International Film festival recently. Back from the Chinese city he had visited with actress wife Saranya, Ponvannan narrated his experience with enthusiasm. ``The selection of Jameela thrilled me for two reasons," observed Ponvannan. ``I had directed it and it was a Tamil film." Giving a brief sketch of the story, he said, ``It is about Jameela, a girl caught in the ego clash between her father and husband. At one point the girl decides to take charge of her life. Suvalakshmi plays the title role." It is significant that the film has been selected for the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival to be held in New Delhi in October. ``Saranya and I made it to China after uncertainty regarding travel dogged us until we boarded the flight. We were kept on tenterhooks as visa arrived late and immigration was not cleared. Anyway, everything was sorted out and we reached Shanghai in time to watch my film. The standing ovation that the audience gave after the screening was so heart-warming. Here, I must thank the NFDC for making this possible for me," Ponvannan said. The screening was followed by a lively discussion among the top Asian directors and producers from Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong and India. The subjects ranged from the present trend in cinema, marketing strategy, the Hollywood invasion and the onslaught of television. We all spoke in our own languages and it was translated into English and Chinese. The president of the Cairo International Film Festival, Cherif El Shoubashy, wanted to have ``Jameela'' for his festival. He also introduced me to some of the festival directors of other countries." With its skyscrapers, big buildings, broad tree-lined roads and gardens, Shanghai is as advanced and beautiful as any city of the West, according to Ponvannan. Cycles raced along with cars. He found the cultural and social aspects of the city interesting. He does not remember to have seen any beggar on the street. Strikes are unheard of. The visit to the Jade Buddha temple was a highlight of his trip.
Ponvannan mentions with pride how Saranya attracted attention. The Chinese women were especially impressed with her bright kumkum, jewellery, long braid and of course the sari. They wanted to take snapshots with her. On the whole, the trip was fruitful, says Ponvannan. Matt Truseh, a film producer from Shanghai, expressed his inclination to do a film with him and liked the story Ponvannan outlined. ``It is about the Buddha and we are working on the details," he says.
S. R. ASHOK KUMAR
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