It was in 2016 that Prithviraj-starrer 'Pavada hit the theatres. The superhit movie portrayed the story of Cicily whose life gets shattered after some nude scenes were included in a film as hers. In the movie, it was Cicily’s son Joy and the film’s producer Babu, played by Prithviraj and Anoop Menon respectively, who fight for the wronged woman. However, even before the release of 'Pavada', a similar fight of Thodupuzha native Shobha to salvage her reputation had begun.
Shobha had set out to prove that she was not the woman in the objectionable video posted on a WhatsApp group which led to her separation from her husband. She believed it her responsibility to prove herself right for her kids. While the film has a happy ending in just 2 and half hours of screen time, it took two and half years for Shobha to prove her innocence. Shobha didn’t cover her face in front of the TV camera as she was certain of her innocence. Finally, the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C- DAC) has confirmed that the woman in the video was not Shoba.
Even though it is declared by filmmakers that the plot or characters in a movie are fictitious, it may reflect, in rare circumstances, some grim realities of the society. Screenwriter Bipin Chandran who penned the screenplay of 'Pavada' said that he wasn’t surprised to learn about Shoba’s harrowing experiences which had many uncanny similarities with the movie. “It wasn’t an unusual story. However, when similar incidents happen, it just proves that the movie has handled a contemporary issue,” noted Bipin.
Bipin talks to Onmanorama about how he found the thread of 'Pavada'’s plot and also about the similarities between the characters in a movie and real people.
Bipin admitted that he came to know about Shobha’s issue only when his friends working in the media told him about it. “The fact is that Pavada’s story was a fiction and had no connection at all with a real incident. I had read a book titled ‘The Legend of the Holy Drinker’ written by Austrian writer Joseph Roth. The protagonist was a drunkard who would give up anything in life to have a drink of alcohol. I found that character interesting and wrote the screenplay based on a person like him,” said Bipin.
The young screenwriter said that he had always wished to make a movie based on the novel that he had read while in college. “Though I liked the novel, there weren’t any cinematic elements in it. However, the idea of portraying the problems related to alcoholism or alcohol addicts remained in my mind. It was some other instances which inspired me to add the story of the protagonist’s mother in the movie,” explained the screenwriter.
The 'bit' movies
Earlier when Malayalam films were dubbed into Tamil, ‘bits’ of obscene scenes, which were not in the original movies, were added. Those images wouldn’t belong to the actresses who acted in the lead roles. For instance, if an actress is shown as getting into the bathroom to take a shower, bits of obscene scenes would be added after the shot when the actress shuts the bathroom door. Bits of scenes like these were added in most of the movies to make it more popular. In fact, many family dramas which were big hits in Kerala had the misfortune to be altered like this when it was dubbed in Tamil. The actresses who had acted in those movies were looked down by some people in Tamil Nadu. Bipin said that incidents like these have inspired him to write 'Pavada'. He, however, admits that he hadn’t known a woman who has gone through the same trauma in real life.
“The #MeToo campaign has gained such momentum despite the fact that we are educationally and technologically advanced. It means that exploitation like these happen at all times. There is absolutely no doubt that such things had existed 30 or 40 years ago as well. Even in the modern times when we think that we have control over certain things, women are exploited in many ways. Many of them wouldn’t dare to open up about such things fearing backlash from the society and family. Unlike Shobha, most of them will not be ready to seek the legal course. It is their firm decision to fight for justice which becomes a significant factor,” observed Bipin.
Bipin hopes that at least some people who had watched 'Pavada' would realise the gravity of such issues, and then it would definitely make a difference. “Some people may have thought that the movie had a romantic plot. There may even be people who believe that the makers have created a fiction which is extremely cinematic. However, Shobha’s fight for justice will eliminate all such misconceptions,” concluded Bipin.