Oscar 2021: All eyes on ‘Jallikettu’

New Delhi, Nov 25 (Agency) As they say in Kerala, ‘If first one fails, the third will be a success’, the whole country is pinning all it’s hopes on Malayalam film ‘Jallikettu’ – India’s Official Entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 93rd Academy Awards – the third Oscar nomination from Malayalam. The Malayalam film industry, also known by the sobriquet ‘Mollywood,’ had its footprints on Oscar nomination long before Jallikettu. It was in 1997, the first Oscar nomination from Malayalam caught attention with the entry of ‘Guru’ directed by Rajiv Anchal. Mr Anchal, also a sculptor, recently came to limelight with his work of a gigantic statue of mythical fallen eagle ‘Jatayu’ built at Jatayu Earth Centre in Chadayamangalam, Kerala. He took 10 years to finish this magnificent sculpture.

Guru was followed by ‘Adminte Makan Abu’, a 2011 drama film directed by Salim Ahmed, the second Oscar entry from the industry, which was also premiered in Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival among other major film festivals. Director of ‘Jallikettu’ Lijo Jose Pellissery, son of known Malayalam film actor Jose Pellissery, made his debut in 2010 with ‘Nayakan’, followed by ‘City of God.’ Though his first two films were critically acclaimed, they failed at the box office. However his third film ‘Amen’, a romcom musical satire released in 2013, grabbed the attention of film buffs. Pellissery’s flicck, initially considered a ‘new generation movie,’ which introduced usage of informal words and expressions, became an unfamiliar, yet engrossing experience for typical Malayalam cinegoers. ‘Amen,’ which shared a ‘fragrance’ of magical realism in the background of a Christian community living in a picturesque village in the backwaters of Kerala’s Kuttanadu, was also a commercial success. His unconventional approach towards films made Pellissery a genius filmmaker, who suddenly rose to the international arena with a handful of movies. When it comes to Jallikettu, the story revolves around a tamed buffalo that escapes on the eve of its scheduled slaughter and runs amok through a settlement of hill farmers in Kerala’s Idukki district. The race after the buffalo also embodies the traditional sports event in Tamil Nadu, in which a crowd of people attempt to grab a released bull to show their valour in taming the animal.

The film is based on the short story ‘Maoist’ by S Hareesh, who has also written the screenplay, along with R Jayakumar. The sharp frames of the film features the wild instincts inside the mankind through body language, sudden movements, shouts and palpitations, despite conversations. A group of people running after a buffalo, represents wildness, anger, insults and desire of survival, diminishing the fine line of social behaviour between humans and animals. The film, starring Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose and Sabumon Abdusamad in lead roles, beat out stiff competition to secure its spot in the Oscars race against many notable movies, including Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, Priyanka Chopra-starrer ‘The Sky is Pink’, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s ‘Serious Men,’ among top 27 flicks. The 93rd Academy Awards are scheduled to be held on April 25, 2021, in Los Angeles. The ceremony was pushed back by two months because of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.