Daily Wage Rubber Plantation Worker's Debut Film Wins Kerala's Top State Award
On February 27, Kanthan – The Lover of Colour won the top prize at the 49th Kerala State Film Awards for 2018. The movie was a debut project of its director Shareef Easa, who is a worker at a rubber plantation in Kannur district’s Chapparapadavu village in Kerala.
Shareef Easa – Director, rubber tapping worker & a wedding photographer
According to a report by Times Of India, on the very day, his movie rose over other big productions to receive the prestigious award, Easa had woken up at 4 am for tapping rubber in a nearby plantation. According to Easa, rubber tapping is what helps him to continue his film ambitions and to look after his family. Apart from rubber tapping, he also does wedding photography and produces programmes for the local Kannur Vision channel.
The film’s scriptwriter Pramod Koovery along with Easa took two years to write the final draft of the script which is based on environment. Daya Bai and Prajith who are social workers are in the lead role. Apart from them the rest of the cast belongs to Adiya tribal community. Easa himself has acknowledged the fact that none of them is an actor. Talking about the script, he said the film uses Rauola language of the tribes which does not have a script. A tribal head helped him to translate the script from Malayalam to Rauola.
The film was initially thought to be a short film. Easa had only Rs 50,000 offered by a person when he set out to make the movie. Unfortunately, the sponsor withdrew before the shoot began and Easa had to turn its producer as well. Easa took a loan of Rs 10 lakh from a bank, which he is still repaying. To raise more money for the film, his wife Shabna had to sell her six sovereign gold chain. Recalling the shooting days, Easa said, “There were times when I felt it was not going to happen. The award is a recognition of all those sacrifices and battles we had to wage”.
Easa took help of his five friends for technical support and pulled off the film in a budget of Rs 20 lakh. He and his five friends had to stay in tribal colonies for days during the shoot. They had to eat whatever they were offered by the tribespeople. He also said that casting Daya Bai was unplanned as she had told no when he called her. Later, Easa took a train to Pune and then narrated the story to her to which she could not refuse. She agreed to play the role of Nithyamma, the grandmother of 12-year-old boy Kanthan.
Easa said he always liked watching dramas and cultural events during the local temple festival. In 1999 when he was in class 8, he made his first drama based on Kargil war. When he was in higher secondary school, he started writing scripts for local clubs and schools. He said that he was an average student and it was in class Xll, he started working as a rubber tapper. He left his degree course in midway to take up a three-month course on videography and editing. Later on, he purchased a video camera costing Rs 1.1 Lakh. In 2013, he made a short film Section 37, based on Delhi gangrape of 2012. He also made a short film, Beef which was based on the ban on cattle trade.
The Logical Indian Take
We congratulate Shareef Easa for his hard work and finally achieving what he deserved. Easa’s story is an inspiration for others who want to achieve something big but don’t dare to dream as they lack resources. There are numbers of people struggling to contribute something to this world but are unable to do it and are almost on the verge of giving up. To them we would like to say never lose hope, if Easa had lost his faith then his movie would have never finished, and we would not have received such an excellent film.