Documentary channel

A gush of poetry and paeans in documentary on Malayalam writer Attoor Ravi Varma

Anvar Ali’s ‘Maruvili’ vividly renders the works and ideas of the renowned poet.

Poet and director Anvar Ali’s documentary Maruvili (Call from The Other Shore) is by a poet and about a poet. Maruvili pays lavish homage to Attoor Ravi Varma, whom the director describes as “a poet’s poet”. Speaking to The Hindu, Ali describes the experience of making the film as “looking up at a huge tree from beneath it”. That in itself explains the unconditional reverence of this unusual biographical documentary. The film does not alienate viewers with heavy semantics, and we do not hear a single dissonant voice, even in friendly polemic. There are only paeans for the master.

At 84, Attoor Ravi Varma, named affectionately after the village of his birth, is the winner of several top honours, including the Sahitya Akademi for poetry as well as translation, the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram and the Assan Prize. But it is his quiet modesty and old-world grace that makes us want to know more about the mild-faced gentleman we first see on a verandah, reciting his poem “Adolescence,” which tells us of lost yesterdays. Attoor describes the land he loves, the camera complementing his nostalgia with the simple beauty of paddy fields and reflecting his resignation to the ugly cement structures that have reared their heads in the name of civilisation.

An ensemble of writers, including critics B Rajeevan and KC Narayanan, poets VM Girirja, TP Rajeevan, PP Ramachandran, KR Tony, Kalpetta Narayanan, Anitha Thampi, and K Satchidanandan, takes us through the labyrinth of Attoor’s writings, sometimes reciting or chanting his poetry, at others, discussing their scope and social messages. Attoor is often present with those on whom he has made an impact, whether through his own writing in Malayalam or in his translations in Tamil. On two occasions, Attoor’s poetry is arrestingly performed by the actor Gopalan Adatt.

Play

In a poem that shares its title with the film, Attoor’s poetry is literally called out from another shore – in a video conference between Sri Lankan writer Cheran in Canada and Tamil poet N Sukumaran in Kerala. The poem, read with passion by both, was written in 1989, at the time when Sri Lankan Tamils were massacred in the civil war while Indian liberals were shuffling their feet. It is a poem that cuts to the chase in its opening lines:

“When you walk along the Post Office Road, You turn into a handful of blood.”

The pictures are in the words themselves, and in the words are layers of suggestion. When we hear the haunting lines “For all the lands with its five hands (tributaries) Kaveri flows on the bosom of a century bygone,” and see pictures of garbage and plastic choking a river bed, it is not quite the same thing .

Attoor believes, “The language of poetry is the language of our thought. There is no language that is so close to one’s inner language.”

In a film of 90 minutes, where the soundtrack is almost entirely poetry and/or the discussion of it, viewers who rely on subtitles have to ignore their own “inner language”. Instead, they must perform several simultaneous tasks – tune out the soundtrack, read the translations on the screen and keep to the director’s pace and mapping of visuals, whether evocative or otherwise.

Quite independent of Attoor’s poetry, the visuals of Maruvili, which was screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival, are riveting for the most. Attoor paints stunning enough pictures in his poetry without them being defined on screen.

As homage and a moving album of memories that record the contribution of a veteran, the film serves its purpose.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900

Fashion

If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.