The screening of 8 ½ Intercuts: Life and Films of KG George at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) became a venue for movie buffs in Kerala to express their admiration for the master filmmaker with delegates turning up in large numbers.
The film, directed by Lijin Jose, was screened before a packed audience as part of the non-feature section of the Indian Panorama. The film explores the personal and artistic life of KG George who redefined Malayalam cinema with his distinct narratives that delved deep into human psychology.
The film starts as a monologue with George narrating his life and moves on through the memories and observations shared by a number of film personalities, including M Vasudevan Nair, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, actor Mammootty and the late Balu Mahindra.
However, the most interesting part of the film is the honest and open revelations by George's wife and singer Salma that George was an utter failure as a family man. As Salma keeps saying George was interested only in films and sex and had no affection for family, the filmmaker expresses his helplessness saying "Salma, I'm like this. I can't help it."
The film owes its title to Federico Fellini's 1963 film 8 ½. Some sequences from the films of Fellini, whom George considers a great source of inspiration, are perfectly juxtaposed with George's comments. Talking about his love for Fellini, George cites the similarities of views the two share on matters such as film-making and religion.
The film was shot during a long span of four years.
Lijin said he started the project after my film 'Friday' was completed. He said his co-director Shahina K Rafiq offered help in collection of material for the film. Asked about choosing George as the subject, he said: "George sir had watched my film Friday and he liked it. I shared the experience with my friend Shahina, who is a writer. Then Shahina offered me the material she had collected for the research she wanted to do on the works of KG George. The project got started after Shibu G Susheelan came on board, volunteering to produce it. All those whom we had met as part of the project were of the opinion that such a tribute to George sir was necessary."
The documentary focuses on George's masterpieces such as Swapnadanam, Irakal, Panchavadippalam and Lekhayude Maranam Oru Flashback. Those who were associated with these films, including cinematographer Ramachandra Babu and actor Nedumudi Venu etc share their memories of the filmmaker during the course of the narrative, while filmmakers from the young generation including Lijo Jose Pellissery, Geethu Mohandas and Anjali Menon make some strong observations about his films and reveal their admiration for him. Both Geethu and Anjali admire the filmmaker for his brilliant portrayal of women through his works. Film critics such as C S Venkiteswaran and the late V C Harris also appear in the documentary.
M J Radhakrishnan and Neil D'Kunha have handled the camera for the film, edited by B Ajith Kumar. Bijibal has composed music.
Lijin said he was working on the script of a new film, scheduled to start next year.