Priya Krishnaswamy’s Baaram, which deals with senicide, wins best Tamil film at National Film Awards 2019
The film is a commentary on the practice of killing the elderly or involuntary euthanasia, which still exists in rural Tamil Nadu
Filmmaker Priya Krishnaswamy’s 91-minute film Baaram (The Burden), which deals with Thalaikoothal (the traditional practice of killing the elderly or involuntary euthanasia by their own family members) in rural Tamil Nadu, has won the best feature film award (Tamil) at the National Film Awards, 2019.
While the films, which were chosen as the best in Malayalam, Telugu, and Hindi were already quite popular, many have gotten to know about Baaram, only after this national recognition.
Baaram was earlier a part of the Indian Panorama section of the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI2019), but also one among the 12 films nominated for the International Council for Film, Television and Audio-Visual Communication (ICFT) UNESCO Gandhi Medal.
Priya, in an earlier interview with TNIE had said that she learned about Thalaikoothal - the killing of the infirm elderly by their own families - online in 2012. "The thing wasn’t really in mainstream media, and it was unbelievable and horrifying. I thought of making a documentary on the subject. But midway, I changed track and decided to make a feature film instead. Accordingly, I began working on it in full earnest in mid-2016. We shot the film throughout January 2017. The post-production happened over the next two years,” she had said on Baaram’s cinematic journey.
Baaram’s story revolves around Karuppasamy, an aging watchman, who meets with an accident, and breaks his hip. Two weeks later, he dies. At his funeral, an old woman accuses the family of murder.
Apparently, the casting for the film was a huge challenge as the story demanded more than 80 actors. R Raju, who played the lead role of the watchman, was cast after an extensive audition. Raju is, incidentally, an alumnus of National School of Drama, Delhi.
Priya apparently held an acting workshop before going on floors, during which time, the team had multiple script-reading seasons, which helped in the shoot and in identifying other key performers.
Jayanth Mathavan has handled the camera for Baaram, which also has Sugumar Shanmughan, its casting director, playing an important role.
Priya, who debuted in 2013 with Gangoobai, is currently working on an epic martial arts feature film, based on Unniarcha, a Kalari warrior, who lived in 16th century Kerala.