Studying patterns of life

Updated: Oct 27, 2019, 10:19 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

Four friends have made a documentary in Kerala's Idukki, where the only source of livelihood is nature

A still from the film that documents tribal festivals celebrated in the Western Ghats
A still from the film that documents tribal festivals celebrated in the Western Ghats

When four friends stuffed their bags and went on a six-month trip to the Western Ghats of Kerala in Idukki in January last year, they didn't know they would strike gold. The initial plan was limited to shadowing the scheduled tribes and watching closely their life-surviving methods. As soon as Shino Cherian, Vipin A Davis, Anand GK and Praveen Kumar Raja returned to their respective hometowns in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the budding filmmakers decided to go back; this time, however, with a better plan for their first-ever independent documentary.

Now, almost a year-and-a-half later, their film, Patters of Life: Prana, has reached the post-production stage. Looking back at the exciting journey, Cherian shares, "We all studied filmmaking together in direction and cinematography. After completing the course, we wanted to travel and do something unique. So, we went to Marayoor, Kanthalloor, Memari (a tribal village catchment area above Idukki Dam), Vattavada, Kattappana and Kumily."

Eapen belongs to the Oorali tribal community of Idukki
Eapen belongs to the Oorali tribal community of Idukki

The group had packed limited filming equipment as climbing dangerous terrain, amid rough weather conditions, was going to be challenging. "Some tribals live on the plain lands, other on high plateaus and many in the core of the jungles. It's obviously difficult to get there, but once you reach, it's a different world altogether," Davis adds.

The team explored their food habits, lifestyle, dance form, art form as well as music. These schedules have been captured spanning many months and different climatic conditions. "There are some inhabitants who build small huts and live in the forests to procure honey during certain time of the year. They later move closer to the river for fishing during the remaining part of the year. This whole moving back and forth has helped them get close to the nature. They have a cosmic connection with the environment, which people like you and us, who live in an urban setting, will never understand," Cherian informs.

Neeli is the oldest tribal woman in Meimari, Kerala. She is 102 years old
Neeli is the oldest tribal woman in Meimari, Kerala. She is 102 years old

But the best memory was made at Memari—the last village in Kerala that received an electricity connection in 2018. "They have learned to adapt themselves to the changing weather conditions. As much as they rely on nature for a livelihood, they know how to return the favour with interest—by preserving it. It is something we need to learn from them, that the key is in protecting environment and not violating it," Davis tells us.

Prana, which means conscious breathing into our daily lives, is a prequel that is shot at a single terrain—the mountains. The dream is to make Patterns of Life, which deals with four more terrains, including the sea, deserts, water lands and finally, the cities. "Initially, we put in our own money, but when things hit a roadblock, financially, we decided to start crowdfunding. A lot of close friends have funded this movie, and we require some more. before its release on both national and international platforms by December this year," Davis says. "We want to share the lives of these tribals with everyone; we also want everyone to see what we did," Cherian concludes.

Vipin Davis is the director of the film
Vipin Davis is the director of the film

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