Malayalam film Jallikattu is India’s official entry to the Best International Feature Film category of the 93rd Academy Awards. The film beat out 26 other films, including The Disciple, Shakuntala Devi, Chhapaak, Eeb Allay Ooo!, Serious Men, Bulbbul and Gunjan Saxena. It was chosen for its depiction of the “raw side of human beings, that we are worse than animals,” said Rahul Rawail, chairman of Film Federation of India jury which selected the film.
The film is about the violence and depravity that lurks just beneath the surface of everyday life. In Jallikattu, this side of human nature is revealed when a buffalo escapes just as it’s about to be slaughtered. Chaos ensues as the animal runs amok and with everyone in the village chasing after it, social order is upended, old feuds come bubbling to the surface and all pretence of civilisation is swept aside.
Set in Kerala’s hilly Idukki district, the 2019 film is based on the 2015 short story Maoist by S Hareesh, who won the prestigious JCB Prize for Literature this year for his novel Moustache (original Malayalam title Meesha). Jallikattu has been widely praised for its direction by Lijo Jose Pellissery and the lead performances by Antony Varghese and Chemban Vinod Jose. While making the announcement, Rawail also praised the film’s technical aspects and production values.
Pellissery told The Indian Express, “I’m very happy for every single person who worked on the film. We all ran together for this.” The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year. Pellissery, whose previous films include the critically-acclaimed Angamaly Diaries (2017) and Ee. Ma. Yau (2018), won the Kerala State Film Award for his direction of Jallikattu in October.
Hareesh, who also wrote the screenplay of the film, along with R Jayakumar, said, “I’m doubly happy, as I won the JCB Prize only two weeks ago. Of course, this is a director’s film and there are differences, as there will be between literature and cinema.” Jallikattu is Hareesh’s first collaboration with Pellissery. “He told me that as soon as he read the story, he knew he wanted to adapt it as a film,” said the writer. The duo’s second film together is the upcoming Malayalam science fiction film Churuli.
The 93rd Academy Awards is scheduled for April 25, 2021.
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Pooja PillaiPooja Pillai is a Special Correspondent working with The Indian Expres… read more