Shaji N Karun

After his diploma at the Pune film institute, Shaji N Karun's entry to cinema was as a cinematographer for director G Aravindan in his second film Kanchana Seeta (1977). The very first film won Shaji, the State Film award for best cinematographer. Shaji continued working with Aravindan up to Chidambaram (1985) when he decided to work as an independent director.

The emergency period which saw the upsurge of leftist extremist activities that created political stir in Kerala, became the subject for Shaji's first film Piravi (1988). Piravi won the Camera-d'or at the Cannes film festival. His second film Swaham too was selected for the competitive section in the Cannes film festival. His third film, Vaanaprastham (1999), an Indo-French co-production, narrated the identity crisis of an artist, who is identified with the art he represents. Vaanaprastham was also selected to the competitive section in the Cannes film festival.



Filmography:

Piravi - 1988 - Malayalam
(The Birth)

Raghu, the only son of Raghava Chakyar was born late. So Raghava Chakyar poured his entire love and affection on him. Raghu, studying in an engineering college in a far away city has to arrive at his home to attend the engagement ceremony of his only sister. But he doesn't. The father starts his endless wait for his son. He waits at the bus stop daily till the last bus from the town also is gone. Raghava Chakyar comes to know from the newspapers that the Police for political reasons has taken Raghu into custody. He reaches the capital and meets some Police officials. But they pretend to be helpless as there is no proof that Raghu was taken into custody. The father returns home broken hearted but still with a hope that Raghu would return home safely. He continues his endless wait for his son.

Piravi won about 12 international awards including the Camera-d'or at the Cannes film festival; award for the second best film at the Chicago film festival and the Silver Leopard grand jury award at the Lacorno film festival.

Direction & Screenplay: Shaji N Karun
Cast: Premji, Archana, Lakshmiamma
Cinematography: Sunny Joseph
Music: Mohan Sitara, G Aravindan



Swaham - 1993 - Malayalam
(The Self)

Swaham narrates the pathetic life of a widow who later looses her son also. Annapoorna, after her husband's death, , struggles to run a teashop owned by them near a railway station, along with her son and daughter. Her son, Kannan also helps her by selling tea at the railway station while studying for his matriculation exam. Kannan fails his exam causing more misery to his mother. She takes him to a military recruitment camp in the hope of a job for her son and bribes a huge amount to a middleman. Kannan is killed in a stampede in the military camp. She returns to her house with her son's dead body.

The film ends with the scene where Kannan's sister waits lonely in their house for her mother and brother returning from the recruitment camp, and the mother bringing her son's dead body in an ambulance.

Direction & Screenplay: Shaji N Karun
Cast: Vanmani Vishnu, Haridas, Aswani, Mullenezhi, Sarath, Gopi
Cinematography: Hari Nair
Music: Raghavan, Isaac Thomas Kottukkapalli



Vaanaprastham - 1999 - Malayalam
(The Last Dance)

Set in the early 1930s, Vaanaprastham tells the story of Kunjikuttan, the illegitimate son of a landlord by a lower-caste woman. The landlord rejects the fatherhood of Kunjikuttan. He studies Kathakali, the classical dance form of Kerala and becomes a reputed Kathakali artist.

Kunjikuttan meets Subhadra, a high-society woman during a Kathakali performance in a palace. Subhadra falls in love with the role of Arjuna, the hero of Mahabharatha he played at the palace but not with the actor Kunjikuttan. She urges him to make love to her wearing the costumes of Arjuna. Subhadra announces that she is pregnant. She gives birth to a son and refuses Kunjikuttan to see the child. Only once, she allows him to see his son in the costumes of Arjuna. Thus, Kunjikuttan, a son who was deprived of his father earlier is deprived of his son.

Direction & Screenplay: Shaji N Karun
Cast: Mohanlal, Suhasani, Kalamandalam Gopi
Cinematography: Renato Berta, Santosh Shivan
Music: Zakir Hussain



Nishad - 2002 - Hindi
(Octave)

1971- The Atmosphere is tense with the possibility of a war between India and Pakistan. Sati, a music teacher in a school for Tibetan children run by the Tibetan government-in-exile and her husband Gopi, a doctor in a government hospital is leading a placid life. Their only son, Ashok is a pilot with the Indian Air Force, and calls home at an appointed time, unerringly every week. Ashok's call itself gives Sati immense joy and its regularity brings her great comfort. But a mistaken call from a young boy trying desperately to reach his mother 'Gomati amma' disrupts the peace and tranquility of their home. The wrong calls keep coming. Each time, it is the same child's voice; the desperation in the voice is more sharply etched. Sati finds herself a prisoner to her own mental demons. Her anguish grows as her son's call doesn't arrive at the appointed hour. The next call is curt and brief. "The child passed away. The funeral is tomorrow....."

Direction & Co-screenplay: Shaji N Karun
Co-screenplay: Valsalan Vathusseri
Cast: Archana, Rajit Kapur, Geshe Thupten-Phelgyei, Master Jhang Ray, Ram Gopal Bajaj, Rameshwari
Cinematography: Hari Nair
Editing: Sreekar Prasad
Music: Isaac Thomas Kottukapally

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