Vibrant. The second day of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) under way on Kozhikode Beach can be described with this one word. Voices, counter voices, dissent, debate, flashes of new ideas, calling out society’s hypocrisy and victory celebrations marked various sessions of the festival on Friday.
Union Minister of State for Tourism J. Alphons set the ball rolling in the morning by alleging that the festival propagated only Leftist ideas, followed by a statement by festival director K. Satchidanandan that it was not true and that people who shared different ideologies were part of the festival.
The focus shifted to the idea of censorship later with actor Prakash Raj urging ‘superstars’ in the Indian film industry to speak their minds instead of taking the usual apolitical stand. Later, directors Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Prathap Joseph, V.K. Prakash, producer-actor Thampi Antony and editor Bina Paul debated on the relevance of the Central Board of Film Certification and contemplated the idea of film grading that is in practice in Western countries. The discussion at one stage was limited to the issue of not screening Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S.Durga at International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), which led to a war of words between the director and Bina Paul who was the curator of IFFK. It was Thampi Antony who introduced the idea of grading while V.K. Prakash maintained that every one should have the space to screen the cinema of their dreams without fear of censorship.
Nalini Jameela, known for her much criticised work The Autobiography of a Sex worker, received thunderous applause for her frankness and courage to call out the hypocrisy of Kerala society. “Since we are not a vote bank, unlike the 65,000 strong sex worker community in Bengal, no government will ever do anything good for us,” she said. The word ‘sex thief’ she coined was well received by the massive audience.
Romila Thapar spoke in a session organised in connection with the Kerala History Congress. While debates on media progressed in one section, issues in connection with identities such as female, transgender and Dalit went on in another session.
“When they call me a ‘Feminichi’, I know that I hit the right string without a doubt,” activist and scriptwriter Deedhi Damodaran said while participating in a discussion – ‘Transforming perspectives in cinema: through the lens of a feminist’ – at the fest.
“We need to reclaim the word feminism,” said Bina Paul.
Actors Padmapriya and Revathi said that there were waves of change in Malayalam cinema. Padmapriya felt that the space for women in cinema had increased, but not directly. “Even when leading females have nothing much to do, we have many strong supporting female characters,” she said.
Revathi pointed out that cinema had the power to bring about changes in society. “A small scene can change the way we think,” she said.
Writer C.S. Chandrika felt that the courage shown by a female actor to report the sexual harassment against her was the greatest wave of change in Malayalam film industry.
source: The H