As the opening titles explain, this new film by Adoor Gopalakrishnan covers a politically tumultuous time (1937 to 1980) in the modern history of Kerala, a state in South India that was, incidentally, the first to democratically elect a Communist Government, in 1959. The beauty of the film, though, is that Kerala’s political history is not the main focus; instead, the film follows the life from childhood to adulthood of Kunjunni, a petit bourgeois country boy turned leftist radical. As a child, Kunjunni lives with his mother, her landowner family and their loyal servants. He’s emotionally hypersensitive—he has a nagging stutter and cries at the slightest provocation. Jumping ahead in time—as the film does in several places—we find a young adult Kunjunni who is studious and full of ideals. And like his uncle, he’s fallen in with the Communist Party, which leads him to trouble with the law. But the human elements of the story are always in the foreground of this gently paced film. We watch the family as they gather to watch Kunjunni’s uncle (who has shown up unexpectedly) eat his dinner—a touching, quiet moment of familial bonding. And Gopalakrishnan often stops to dwell on rituals such as bathing in the river, or walking to school through a lush, green landscape. It’s a down-to-earth, humanitarian approach to understanding the region’s complex history. Man of the Story was named Best Indian Film of the year at the National Film Awards. —Kurt Wolff, San Francisco Film Society
Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in Kerala, India in 1941 into a family that patronized Kathakali and other performing arts. He started acting on the amateur stage at the early age of eight. Wrote and directed several stage plays during his student days.
Adoor had his graduation from the Gandhigram Rural University in 1960 specializing in Economics, Political Science and Public Administration. He left the governmental job of a statistical investigator to study cinema at the Film Institute of India, Pune in 1962. Graduating from the Film Institute of India in1965 with specialization in Screenplay writing and Advanced Film Direction, he pioneered the film society movement in Kerala. The same year, he took the initiative to form India’s first film co-operative for production, distribution and exhibition of quality films.
He has scripted and directed elevan feature films and about thirty Shorts and documentaries. Notable amongst the non-feature films are those on Kerala’s performing… read more