Aravindan Govindan

Sog.: Aravindan Govindan. F.: Shaji N. Karun. M.: A. Ramesan. Mus.: Kavalam Narayana Panicker, M.G. Radhakrishnan. Int.: Bharath Gopi, Nedumudi Venu, D.P. Nair, Sreedharan Chambad, Jalaja, Murikkoli Krishnan, Shreeraman, Kottara Gopalakrishnan, Njeralath Rama Poduval. Prod.: Kollam; K. Ravindranathan Nai per General Pictures Corporation. DCP. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The restoration used the best surviving element, namely a dupe negative struck from a 35mm print preserved at the National Film Archive of India.The element was scanned in 4K and the restoration was performed at Prasad Corporation Pvt. Ltd.’s Post Studios, Chennai and L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory.

Images unfold like a Hindustani raga, a journey through a mystical world where the real and unreal merge seamlessly, where genre and form have no boundaries, a contemplative, meditative reverie in a unique visual language – that is Govindan. Aravindan Govindan’s Thamp̄ is a poetic, allegorical film, that gently explores the transience of human relationships and the rootlessness of the marginalized through the ripples created in the bucolic existence of a village on the banks of a river by the arrival of a roving circus troupe. In cinéma vérité style, Govindan rounded up a troupe of circus artistes and travelled with them to the village of Thirunavaya on the banks of the Bharathapuzha river. On the first day, the circus was set up and all the villagers were invited to watch the show. Aravindan said in an interview, “We did not have a script and we shot the incidents as they happened… There were a lot of people who had not seen a circus before. We shot their responses as they were watching. After the initial hesitation, they forgot the lights and the shooting and got completely involved in the circus.” For three days, the circus is the centre of attention of village life, but soon the villagers lose interest and move on to the preparation for a local festival and the circus troupe packs up and trundles away leaving no trace. Alienated from his own milieu, a young man from the village clambers on to the departing truck, hoping to escape his discontent by joining the circus troupe in their drifting existence. The beauty of the film lies in the reflective silences, the deeply observational, but delicate gaze of the camera, juxtaposing the pathos of the circus performers as they go about their everyday tasks and more starkly in impassive close-ups as they speak directly to the camera, against the innocent wonderment of the captivated village audience, in black and white imagery that stays with you long after the big tent has folded up.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur

Restored in 2022 by Film Heritage Foundation, The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at Prasad Corporation Pvt. Ltd.’s Post Studios, Chennai and L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna in association with Producer K. Ravindranathan Nair of General Pictures and the family of Aravindan Govindan. Restoration funding provided by Prasad Corporation Pvt. Ltd. and The Film Heritage Foundation