MUMBAI — Bengali filmmaker Aneek Chaudhuri is making a Malayalam feature length film titled "Katti Nrittam." Chaudhuri's last three feature films, "The Wife's Letter," "White" and "Cactus" were screened worldwide, including at Cannes. The last-mentioned film is also now preserved in the Oscars.

The film is of 140-minutes duration. A 30-minute work in progress was recently  presented at Cannes and landed a streaming deal there. It will now be presented in Filmart, Hong Kong, from Aug. 26 to 29.  

This is the first time a Bengali filmmaker is delving into Malayalam cinema. "Katti Nrittam," an adaptation of "Mahabharata," depicts the story from Draupadi’s point of view. The title means "Knife Dance," and is a melancholic sociopath thriller; a part of it is also loosely based on O. Henry’s short tale.

The film tells the story of a failed Kathakali dancer, who is on a killing spree. "The wildness is somehow neutralized by a mundane foreground that narrates a complex tale of a love quadrilateral," says the media release.

Moreover, the script of this film is also preserved in the Oscars' Margaret Herrick Library.

About moving to Malayalam films, the Bengali filmmaker says, "Malayalam films of this age has left a tremendous impact on me. Or, you can also say that it is far ahead of contemporary Bengali cinema. And Malayalam cinema has always influenced me. More than this, the landscapes of Kerala, the culture, the people over there, each and everything has laid a profound impact on me. I can no way compare the nature stuff of Kerala with that of Bengal."

He goes on, "Moreover, in contemporary times, Malayalam cinema is much ahead; be it Sanal’s "Sexy Durga," or the creations of Babusenan Brothers, or say Fahadh Faasil’s films, like "Maheshinte Prathikaram," "Kumbalangi Nights," or even films made by Ashiq Abu, you can’t see such films being made in Bengal. The reason that quality films are not being made is not because people run away from Bengal to venture into other states, but lies in the work culture and the pretentious approach in Bengal. This erodes everything related to cinema.”

Moreover, after 2011, cinema in Kerala has taken a deviated turn for the better, feels Chaudhuri. "Malayali traditions are something to which I have always looked forward.  People do find a lot of similarities between Bengali and Malayali traditions, but I think Malayalis are more grounded and less pretentious. And my last visit to Kalamandalam back in 2018 had inspired me to write a story revolving around Kathakali dancers," declares the filmmaker.

He added, "Eventually, I decided to turn it into a film. That's how it happened." The film is scheduled to release in theaters in 2021 after making festival rounds around the globe.

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