From failure to success

Print edition : July 31, 1999

FOR Murali Nair, the cinematic journey that culminated in Cannes this year with the award of the Golden Camera for his 57-minute featurette, Marana Simhasanam, began nearly a decade ago when he, a geology student, came to Mumbai from Kerala to stu dy film-making at the Xavier Institute of Communication. He chucked it half way through and plunged into the real film and television world.

He served as an assistant to director Mani Kaul and also worked on a few commercial Hindi films before joining the crew of the popular serial Chandrakanta. In 1993, his short documentary Tragedy of an Indian Farmer, based on a poem by the M alayalam poet Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, won the Silver Lotus at the National Film Awards. Three years later he made his first foray to Cannes, with a seven-minute film, Oru Neenda Yatra (A Long Journey). It won no prizes - but it probably help ed the second time around, when he sent in Marana Simhasanam this year. The selectors promptly accepted it for screening in the section devoted to new talent.

Currently working on a children's film serial for the British "Channel 5" television network, Murali is based in London where his wife Preeya heads their production company, Flying Elephant Films. The Cannes award, he admits, has made it easier for him t o market his films. He is expected to come to India in early September - he has accepted an invitation from the Thiruvananthapuram-based Soorya Film Society to attend its annual film festival.

In a matter-of-fact media interview, Murali Nair said: "I come from a family of farmers. I have seen my father facing success and failure with equanimity. Sometimes you reap a rich harvest; sometimes the crops fail." Maybe, but this year's forecast seems to suggest plentiful creative downpours and a bumper harvest.

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