Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie making

Many a times (while watching a movie) I felt that “if this was made my way it would have looked more appealing”
In short I always wanted to make movies of my own.
As I mentioned earlier in one of my blogs, a good and appealing movie is that which has a good story line, a good director and perfect editing.

Remember Richard Attenborough’s  movie Gandhi which bagged 8 Oscars out of the 11 nominations, way back in the early eighties ?
I had the privilege of watching the shooting of that movie, as a major part of the movie was shot in Pune.

One thing I loved about it is that they do their homework well before the commencement of the shooting. There is no half baked script or cutting corners and penny pinching.
Just imagine there were 300000 extras for the funeral shot (in Delhi) Twenty thousand feet of film was shot (with 11 crew members) which was cut down to just 125 seconds on the editing table.

My all time hero (as a director) is Steven Spielberg. You have to hand it to him for the variety of movies that he made. From Close Encounters of the third kind, Jaws, ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, Munich . . . . . . the list is endless.
Steven Spielberg did not make it at the Oscars (for ET) as it went to Gandhi. He finally got it for the Schindler’s list in 1993.

In case you are wondering what the above  photographs have to do with the Oscars and Spielberg well its my first attempt to make something like a movie (at zero cost)
I put together  some of the still photographs and some movie footage that I captured with my digital camera, and tried to make it into a video. Hope to do better and better in my future attempts when I lay my hands on some good editing software.
So here is my first attempt at it. (hope Spielberg doesn’t see it)
The first one is of the Chenda kottu (drums) that I saw enroute from Cochin airport to Thekadi in Kerala.

The second one was to capture bits and pieces of Dance at a friend’s wedding. Frankly speaking I don’t like those disco lights and its very difficult to capture the action in such light (that’s why the still pictures I used in the video looks better)

In the future I hope to make something like this that is shown below.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The stay at Philipkutty’s Farm

Had been for a week long trip to Kerala and I am jotting down just a part of the trip.
Or to put it in a better way, I should say that this was the best part of our whole trip.
A little beyond Kumarakom there is a Farm known as Philipkutty’s Farm. Had heard and read about this place a lot so I had to book well in advance.
It is situated on an island which was actually reclaimed from the backwaters of Vembanad lake by the family.
This place is run by two ladies, Anu and her mother Aniyamma (whom all calls as mummy) Of course the two kids Philip and Aniya also pitches in.
The best part about this place is the family touch. They wait for you when the vallam (a small boat) approaches. Oh I forgot to mention that there are no connecting roads to this place, so the only approach is by the vallam. They send this vallam across which ferries you to the place where the family waits to receive you.
That is the family below :

We were 18 of us so they had to send two boats.

That is Priyanka and Martin trying out the Titanic pose above . . . . . .
They have villas where you can stay, and as proclaimed by their brochures, no TV no A/C.
Or you can opt for the lunch package which includes a tour of the farm followed by lunch.
(we opted for the Lunch package as we were hard pressed for time)
It sounds simple but if you break it up and list it down, it turns out to be a long list, the things that you get to learn by the tour of the farm as well as the long list of delicacies spread out for lunch.
Here Anu explains about the island which is about two meters below the lake level so during monsoon they have to pump out water back into the lake.

I couldn’t resist a close up of the fig.

Here is Martin’s dad having a closer look at the hanging bitter gourd

Some were fascinated by the geese:

These pictures were clicked at the rear side of their house where you can hardly make out the difference between land and water due to the water hyacinth

There were nutmegs, okra, pumpkins, cinnamon . . . . . to name a few.
Those below are Tapioca trees. A well grown tapioca tree yields about 5 kilos of Tapioca when you uproot them.

While Anu was taking us around showing us all the finer aspects of cultivation, I noticed two stacks of braided palm leaf, which brought back my childhood memories.

I remember how my grandmother used to make these as I sat next to her keenly watching her skillfully weaving each leaf. The final product looked artistic and it used to fetch her 50 paise (half rupee) per piece. It was painstaking, thinking of the process it had to go through, first soak the whole palm in a pond for a day or two, then split it into the two halves and when it is semi dry, you start weaving it. Once done you dry it in the sun and the finished product looks like the one below:

This is used to thatch the roofs in the days when tiles were unheard of (or one could not afford it)
Here is a picture of one in process in our house at Alleppey (Alepuzha) and believe it or not the one on the extreme right is me.

After the tour, we had time to explore the place and most of us were fascinated by the old look of the villa and the surroundings:

Some posed photo session in process :

While we were exploring the place, I could hear some lovely music and I followed it. The source was from one of the rooms where Philip was playing the keyboard. I did some video shooting to record the music and I must say, he is really talented.

Anu announced that the lunch was ready and I had a tough time holding back the group so that I could click this:
Some of the things that I can recollect now are :
Chicken curry
Fish Vattichadu
Fish fry
Beef fry
Pineapple pachaddi
Bitter gourd fry
Cabbage thoran
Banana flower cutlet
Mango pickle
I saw some going in for the second and third helping.

(in case some are wondering about banana flower, here is a picture of it)
Banana flower
© Photographer: Joezachs | Agency:

This was followed by payasam and the small variety of banana (which is very very tasty and sweet)

Aha finally all 18 of us in one frame. It was fun to have all from different nationality, Indian, American, Dutch, Greek, German & Spanish. And this time I am in front of the camera (again extreme right)

After resting for some time we were ferried back to the other side where our bus awaited us.

Priyanka tried to pull out the flower from the water, to offer it to Martin and see what she got. (hook line and sinker)

Some of these feathered friends were giving us a quizzical look.

And this is the link to their site.