“I am happy. It feels good to know that the movie is appreciated,” says Nithin Lukose. He is the director of the feature film, Paka — River of Blood that will soon premiere globally at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Paka revolves around the feud between two families that lasted for generations. “It is about the people of Wayanad who showed incredible courage to live and die. When I approached film-making seriously, I went back to my roots and found stories from my place. I had a conviction that it is going to be the right thing to do, to make a film from the culture you are part of to make it more authentic and believable,” he explains.
These stories were told to him by his grandmother, who migrated to Wayanad from Kottayam in the 1950s “Most of the migration at that time was for agriculture. They (migrants) encroached on lands and many lost their lives in their struggle to survive. Once settled, people started fighting for land, pride etc,” Nithin recalls.
Experience pays off
Nithin is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India and Paka is Nithin's debut film as a director. He has earlier worked as a sound engineer in movies like 'Ambili' (Malayalam), 'Thithi' (Kannada), 'Mallesham' (Telgu) and 'Sandeep Aur Pinki Faraar' (Hindi).
It took him one year to complete the script and the shoot was done in early 2020. “The post-production was done during the lockdown. The movie was selected at the NFDC Film Bazaar held online this year. There it received the Prasad Lab DI Award & Moviebuff Appreciation Award,” the proud filmmaker reveals. Though Nithin chose not to work on sound for Paka, he made a sound library of Wayanad for the film. “Every time I visited home in 2019, I would record sounds from the region. These are unique to the place. I had a wonderful team of sound engineers for the film,” he says.
Local talents to the fore
While actors like Basil Poulose, Nithin George and Vinitha Koshy play important roles, most of the other cast are people from the locality. “These are all people that I know from my childhood. They are either my neighbours, my friends or cousins. It was a challenge that I took. It took us almost two months of training to make them comfortable with the camera.”
Nithin agrees that his experience in the film industry helped him in the process. “I worked with filmmakers across movie industries and it exposed me to different styles of filmmaking. I did 'Thithi' right after college. The film was shot at (Kannada filmmaker) Ere Gowda's native place and the cast were all villagers. I saw how effective it can be and that experience gave me the courage to try the same in Paka.”
Nithin is now working on his next film. “I started writing it, but it is still too early to reveal anything more about it,” he concludes.