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A Master’s Many Idioms

Close analyses of Adoor’s exquisitely crafted films has at its centre the filmmaker’s figure of the ‘outsider’

A Master’s Many Idioms Sanjoy Ghosh/Outlook Archive

A door Gopalakrishnan is a reclusive filmmaker. Since his first film Swayamvaram (1972), till his latest, Oru Pennum Randaanum (2008), he has made only eleven films in over forty years. In an interview to Dearcinema in 2010, Adoor reasoned, “Every film is different, maybe because of the long intervals between films. Every time I prepare a new film, I get the feeling that I have lost touch with the nitty-­gritty of filmmaking.... Once (Satyajit) Ray asked me, ‘Why do you take so long to make films?’...Then he saw this film, Mukhamukham. He asked if I had adap­ted it from any literary source. I said it was my own story. Then he... said, ‘Now I understand why you take so long’. I was, of course, very pleased by that comment.” In this social-networking generation, when producing way more than everyone’s cap­acity to consume is the norm, Adoor does come across as an exc­e­ption. He keeps to himself in a brag-loud world of ‘creative’ people whose acumen and artistic expressions cannot be measured with the same yardstick that one uses to assess Adoor’s works.

There are probably quite a few books on him in Malayalam, but there is a dea­rth of quality writing on Adoor’s cinema in English. Gautaman Bhaskaran’s Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema (Penguin India) and Lalit Mohan Joshi and C.S. Venkiteswaran’s edited collection, A Door to Adoor (South Asian Cinema Fou­ndation) are available in Eng­lish. The for­mer is an attempt at being the ‘authorised’ biography while the latter, though an ensemble reading, doesn’t cover all the films of Adoor with equal importa­nce. Hence Suranjan Ganguly’s The Films of Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Cinema of Emancipation holds the waiting reader with anticipation of a rounded analysis of one of India’s greatest ever filmmakers.

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