Eelam, a first-of-its-kind surrealist film
Eelam is produced by two women, Jaya Menon and Shiji Mathew Cherukara. Tharun Bhaskaran photographed the film while Bijibal composed the background score
Though many foreign films have been made in the genre, surrealism has not been explored much in Malayalam cinema. Barring that occasional dream sequence or two we see in regular mainstream fare, we haven’t seen a full-fledged surrealist film yet. This could change with the arrival of debutant Vinod Krishna’s Eelam, which boasts of a daringly unconventional premise.
The concept, based on Vinod’s short story of the same name, sounds intriguing. “It features five people seated at a bar, engaged in conversations on various subjects, which then give way to memories,” says Vinod. “It is revealed later that an old aristocrat drinking at the bar (Thampi Antony) has come across the other patrons at some point in their lives. But then they have a recollection of meeting him too, but not in the same way he likes to remember.”
Led by actor-author Kavitha Nair, the film was shot in minimal locations, one of them being San Francisco. Vinod adds that his film explores several overarching themes such as an individual’s identity, the shifting nature of memories, and the evolution of—or true meaning of—a civilised society. “A person’s identity is not linked to just some password. As we are perceived differently by different people, one could say that our identity is shaped by others’ memories of us,” he says.
A known face in the Kerala art scene, Vinod and team came up with a unique design for the film’s primary setting, the aforementioned bar. They also played around with colour psychology to set the film’s overall atmosphere. Green, which represents nature and tranquility, has been used as the predominant colour. “We wanted to give everything a larger-than-life look,” continues Vinod. “This is also seen in the actors’ costumes. We don’t mention where the film takes place —it could be anywhere—even though we shot the exterior portions in San Francisco.”
Eelam is produced by two women, Jaya Menon and Shiji Mathew Cherukara. Tharun Bhaskaran photographed the film while Bijibal composed the background score. Ramesh Narayanan developed the songs from lyrics penned by Ajeesh Dasan. Shahabaz Aman has sung a track for the film.