The Habitat International Film Festival returns with an impressive line-up of award-winning and festival favourite films after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s scheduled to be held from May 6 to 15th at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
According to its official website, “Films from across the globe and India, which push the boundaries of cinematic arts, and reflect on the realities and perceptions of a changing world are all set to woo cinephiles over a period of 10 days.”
The festival will showcase a Sanskrit movie, ‘Taya’, which means ‘By Her’ tells the story of a Brahmin woman who fought against patriarchy. The movie is based on a real incident in 1905 – the prosecution (smarthavicharam) of a Namboothiri woman, Kuriyedathu Thathri, for promiscuity. In the prosecution, ‘she defended herself and named over 60 men while fighting the injustice perpetrated by the men who occupied the highest echelons of the power structure.’
Dr G Prabha, a retired professor and head of the department of Sanskrit at Loyola College, Chennai, made his directorial debut with the Sanskrit feature film, Ishti in 2016. A critically acclaimed movie, ‘Ishti’ won several national and international awards and recognitions.
According to Dr G Prabha, he decided to make movies in Sanskrit as he felt that the language should be promoted along with other regional languages in India. “Namboodiris of Kerala were proficient in Sanskrit, and I felt that the story had to be narrated in Sanskrit to do justice to it,” he said.
Malayalam actress Anunol plays the main lead in the movie. Nedumudi Venu, Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboothiri, Babu Namboothiri, Dinesh Panicker, Pallippuram, Sunil, Nandakishore, Krishnan Vadasserry, Revathy, and Master Adidev are among the other cast members.
So far, ‘Taya’ has been screened at various international film festivals, including Kolkata International Film Festival, Pune International Film Festival, Bengaluru International Film Festival, and Orange City International Film Festival, Nagpur.
Taya will be screened at Habitat International Film Festival on May 7.
Savitri Antharjanam, better known as Kuriyeda Thu Taatri, is an enduring icon worthy of superstardom in women’s struggle for gender justice. The body blow struck at the vicious patriarchy that ruled her community is part of folklore in the south Indian state of Kerala. Taatri’s legacy fuelled intense debate in Kerala, particularly in the upper-caste Namboothiri Brahmin community to which she belonged in the last century. Changes came, but the subjugation of women continued in one form or the other. This makes Taatri a legend and ‘Taya’ relevant even now. Noted writer, social reformer and freedom fighter V.T. Bhattathiripad, a Namboothiri himself, described Taatri’s life as a tit-for-tat response to the male sexual anarchy in her community.