Date:26/06/2003 URL:
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Focusing on social issues

Sibi Malayil is a director who is still much talked about for his masterpieces. He touched upon different aspects of film-making and issues plaguing the Malayalam film industry in a chat with G. Krishnakumar.

'I am interested in making films which speak of human relationships and conflicts'.

TO BE remembered forever for your film is a blessing. Very few directors in Malayalam film industry have had this luck. And Sibi Malayil is one among them. His `Taniyavarthanam', made in 1987, is still discussed for the rarity and excellent treatment of its theme. The film struck a different chord as it delved deep into the psychological problems of human beings.

If `Taniyavarthanam' rewrote some of the orthodox film-making concepts in the Malayalam film industry, Sibi's `Doore Doore Oru Koodukootam', `Dasaradham', `Aakasadoothu', `Kireedom' and `Kanakinavu' received critical acclaim for mapping social issues on screen. `Doore Doore... ', Aakashadhootu' and `Kanakinavu' also brought national honours for him. Sibi, who recently shifted to Kochi from Chennai, talked about various aspects of cinema.

"I am interested in making films which speak of human relationships and conflicts. It is not that I am averse to other kinds of films. But nothing is more satisfactory than to be remembered by films which you made 16 years back," he says. Sibi continues to get calls from people who are all praise for his `Taniyavarthanam', `Dasaradham' or `Kireedom'. As a beginner, he learnt the nuances of film-making at the house of Navodaya. "I had the luck of learning the basics of film-making, including editing from the films made by Navodaya." As an associate director, Sibi worked for films like `Mamangam', `Padayottam' and `Mammatikuttiamma' made by Navodaya.

`Mutharamkunnu P.O.' with Nedumudi Venu, Mukesh and Srinivasan in the lead roles was his first film as an independent director. "I like `Mutharamkunnu' for its innocence. The film does not depend on slapstick comedy but on realistic humour," he adds. `Taniyavarthanam' also marked his association with scriptwriter Lohithadas. The Sibi Malayil-Lohithadas duo made memorable movies like `Kireedom' and `Bharatham'. But they parted ways after Lohithadas donned the role of a director with `Bhoothakannadi'.

Sibi does not rule out another film with Lohithadas as he says they both have reached a basic understanding to work together again. "But when a script writer becomes a director, he will not be able to do full justice to the script as technical and other aspects of direction will always affect his work," he adds.

The director who considers himself lucky to have worked with the noted writer, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, in `Sadayam' says that a good subject will be the ultimate criteria for the success of a film.

"We need new subjects and new writers. But it is not that easy to find such writers now," he says. Sibi has identified young writers like Kalavoor Ravikumar (`Ishtam') and Sindhuraj (`Valentines Day') during his search for fresh and exciting scripts.

As general secretary of the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association, Sibi says that discussions on the crisis in the Malayalam film industry always revolved around peripheral issues. "The only solution to the crisis is to make good films," he says. "As an office-bearer of MACTA, I am against the stand of producers to ban Priyadarshan. But as the director of `Summer in Bethlehem' and also an aggrieved party, I am of the opinion that Priyadarshan should settle dues with Siyad to resolve the issue," says Sibi. The director is currently busy with the completion of `Kisan' with Kalabhavan Mani and Biju Menon in the lead roles. He would also start work on the remaking of `Ente Veedu Apoonteyum' in Tamil soon.

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