Where all do you expect to spot a priest? Almost anywhere but not behind a movie camera.
If that's your answer, perhaps you got it wrong.
A group of young Catholic priests belonging to the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in Kerala has taken a shot at filmmaking.
And they did it in style, proclaiming that reel is no alien altar for them.
Pacha Pattusaree,a short film directed and edited by Fr Jacob Koroth, is a winning accolades on YouTube.
Apart from Koroth, several priests have worked for the film directly and indirectly. They include scriptwriter Fr Nibin Kurisingal and creative director Fr James Thottiyil. Fr Jacob has studied visual communications from St Joseph's College of Communication, Changanassery. Fr Nibin is a media student in Rome.
The film talks about familial values, but not in the traditional catechism style. Instead, it's highly 'newgen' in characterisation as well as narration. Fr Nibin wrote the script based on one of his Facebook posts that went viral two years ago.
The priests, who are part of Pilgrims Communication, the multimedia cultural wing of the archdiocese, were prompted to do the film after their friend writer-actor Joseph Annamkutty Jose suggested the idea of making a film based on the FB post. The write-up was about a childhood experience of Fr Nibin.
“We decided to make the film in July. In October, we shot it in four days. It was released on YouTube on January 31,” Fr James told Onmanorama.
On their filmmaking style, Fr James said their idea was to interfere in the field of multimedia in a secular way.
“We knew that the film would not get the desired reach if it's in the traditional Christian devotional mode. We wanted the film to be attractive to all sorts of audience,” he said.
“Our primary concern is morals. However, we also wanted to deconstruct the idea of priesthood in the film,” Fr Jacob added.
The central characters of Amos and Priest have been essayed by newcomers Niyas Shahid and Aneesh Joseph Fartal respectively. The film also has its element of starcast with Action Hero Biju fame Baby Xavier SL Puram and Mary Benedict playing crucial supporting characters.
Fr Paul Komban, a professor of Mangalapuzha seminary, also plays an important character.
“We cast Baby chechi and Mary chechi to get maximum attraction. They were very cooperative. About other actors, religion was never a criteria,” Fr James said.
Jijo Abraham is the cinematographer of Pacha Pattusaree. The stunning frames capturing the rustic beauty of Kadamakudy and Angamaly are visual treats.
Fr James wanted to highlight the teamwork behind the success of the film. He said the film was crowdfunded by several people including priests and laymen.
“The Church knows the importance of mass media to reach maximum people. There was a time when Christianity looked upon cinema as a sin. We want to bring a change in that view. Our aim is to make use of the good aspects of cinema as a medium,” he said.
Fr James said there are other priests who have been working in the field of short films for long. Pilgrims Communications have already produced a 2-minute short film, a musical video about the Kerala floods and a documentary on Fr Paul Thelakkatt. Fr Jacob and Fr James were behind all these works. They also produced songs and plays.
Fr James said their dream is to make a feature film and release it in theatres. “We have already conveyed this to the church authorities,” he said.