12 April, 2021

The Oracle Of Transitions

MT: A poetic-realist passage between text and filmic image

The Oracle Of Transitions

It has been more than half-a-century since M.T. Vasudevan Nair embarked on his specifically filmic vocation: 1965 marks the onset, to be precise, of his long and distinguished career in screenplay writing. As a young writer of short stories and novels in Malayalam in the 1950s—part of a new welling-up of literary energies across Kerala’s transitional cultural landscape—acclamation had already come his way by then. That included even a state Sahitya Akademi award by age 25, in 1958. So the turn to film-specific writing would have meant imposing a ­demand for new shapes on his artistic clay and, at least originally, eking out a translated vision. As he settled into it, perhaps he migrated to a different kind of imaginative exercise—one that already had the duality inscribed within it, both the textual and the visual. Either way, he managed it with such finesse, and became a byword for non-frivolous but extremely engaging narrative cinema over the last half-century.

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