Aravindan Govindan’s film ‘Thamp’ selected For London Film Fest 2022

Chennai: Maverick Indian filmmaker Aravindan Govindan’s acclaimed film ‘Thamp'(1978) has been selected as the only Indian film to be screened in the Treasures Section of the BFI London Film Festival 2022.

The screening, which is to happen on Friday, was a sell-out within a few hours of going live.

Film Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, joined forces with Prasad Corporation to embark on a mammoth mission of restoring the acclaimed film in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna.

The restoration was selected for a red-carpet premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year as the only Indian film to have a world premiere in the Cannes Classic section of the festival.

Establishing yet another colossal achievement, the restoration has now been selected as the only Indian film to be screened in the Treasures Section of the BFI London Film Festival 2022.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Director, of the Film Heritage Foundation states, “I’m so proud that Film Heritage Foundation’s restoration of Aravindan Govindan’s ‘Thamp’ is the only Indian film that has been selected for the Treasures section of the BFI London Film Festival this year and the October 14 screening is already completely booked.

“Ever since the restoration premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, this poignant masterpiece shot in black and white with a cinema-verite approach has, not surprisingly, captured the imagination of festival curators and audiences around the world. We are so happy that we were able to restore this film which had no original negative surviving and which was in danger of vanishing from circulation.”

The son of the legendary filmmaker Aravindan Govindan, Ramu Aravindan, said: “It’s just wonderful that Aravindan’s restored ‘Thamp’ is getting screened at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival. Thamp was screened at the 1979 London Film Festival. And, his next film, ‘Kummatty’, also recently restored, was screened at the 1980 edition. It’s special that this film is getting screened again after 43 years at the same event. I think the restoration brings back to life a very specific kind of visual-poetic sensibility that the present generation of film viewers may have heard about but couldn’t get to watch earlier.”

Aravindan Govindan’s ‘Thamp’ 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 cinema-verite style, G. Aravindan rounded up a troupe of actual 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 trundle away leaving no trace.

Aravindan Govindan was one of India’s most extraordinary filmmakers and a leading light of the New Indian Malayalam cinema of the 1970s and ’80s. A true Renaissance man – he was a painter, cartoonist, musician, theatre director, and filmmaker. An autodidact, his films were free from the weight of film canon, marked by an entirely original approach to cinema. In a tragically short career spanning from 1974 to 1991, he made 11 films and 10 documentaries with almost all of his films receiving national or state awards.

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