Ace cinematographer S Kumar was a jury member of the 67th national film awards that was announced recently. Veteran filmmaker Shaji N Karun was the other Keralite who was included in this year’s jury. Malayalam cinema has won big, by bagging eleven awards including the best feature film. S Kumar, in an exclusive interview with Manorama Online, says he feels proud to be part of the jury when Malayalam cinema has fared exceptionally well.
How do you feel representing Kerala at the national awards jury?
It was for the first time that I had become a jury member for the national film awards. To be honest, I wasn’t interested when I received the invitation. It was my family members who convinced me to accept the invitation saying that it was a great honor. Now, I realize that it was a good decision. I was warmly welcomed there. Besides, I am extremely joyous that our industry has won big time. Jury chairman N Chandra is a legendary director who has years of experience behind him. Similarly, the other jury members too were well known in their respective fields. It was a great honor to be one of them.
2019 was the year which saw many fabulous movies in Malayalam. When I watched each movie, I was skeptical whether Malayalam would win because the films from other languages were extraordinary. There were movies even from some smaller towns where cinema hasn’t grown much. All those movies were fantastic. I am happy that Malayalam cinema had won so many awards. All the movies from Malayalam were amazing and that is the reason why they have won.
What do you have to say about Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham?
Marakkar is a movie that has high standards and has been made on a huge canvas. Priyadarshan is one of the most technically qualified directors in Indian cinema. He is a film maker who has given countless hits in Malayalam. There were a few other films that were on par with Marakkar when it came to theme and presentation. Kangana’s Manikarnika was spectacular. Similarly, movies from two other states too had posed a challenge to Marakkar. However, all these movies couldn’t compete with the splendid visual magic of Marakkar. No one had a different opinion. So, the movie got the achievement that it deserves.
Priyadarshan is someone who has directed many super hit and popular movies. Even the young generation is interested in his movies. His courage to take a huge movie like Marakkar is really commendable. His son Sidharth has done a fabulous job doing the VFX of the movie. Priyan has said that his son insisted to do the movie only on 4K. Sidharth is a student and he had worked in this movie only because his father had asked him to. But, he is a brilliant technician and his skills have greatly helped this movie. I had done many movies with Priyan. I feel happy when the young generation enjoys and celebrates movies like Midhunam that we had worked together.
It was heard that Mohanlal was in the race for the best actor award?
Yes, his performance in Marakkar was brilliant. Only Lal can essay such a character with perfection. He is definitely one of the best actors in the country. However, Dhanush has been grabbing everyone’s attention even from the beginning itself. In Asuran, he had essayed the roles of both the son and the father. Dhanush’s performance in Asuran was marvelous. His acting prowess is on another level. Everyone had unanimously selected Dhanush as the best actor. Similarly, we couldn’t ignore the spectacular performance of Manoj Bajpai in Bhonsle. There was a tight completion in the best actor category.
What do you feel about cinematographer Gireesh Gangadharan’s award?
Gireesh’s cinematography has greatly helped Jellikettu. The movie has extraordinary detailing. The beauty of the night and the raw passion of the villagers who are blinded by greed are amazingly portrayed in the movie. There is a limitation to move the camera after lighting up. I don’t think I have seen such beautiful cinematography even in Hollywood movies. Moreover, director Lijo Jose Pellissery who said that he wouldn’t make this movie without Gireesh too deserves credit. I would like to extend my special wishes to Giressh Gangadharan.
How did other jury members evaluate Malayalam cinema?
Everyone has great opinions about Malayalam cinema. The film makers from other industries are really impressed by the brilliance of our movies. From the beginning itself, Malayalam movies have moved forward by earning amazing opinions from the jury. Manoj Kana’s movie Kenchira in the Paniya language is superb. He has taken that movie fabulously. Everyone had appreciated the making of that film. The Malayalam movies rightly deserve the awards that they have won. Being a jury member for the first time, I am happy and satisfied with this year’s awards.