The filmmaker says the Malayalam children’s film, which releases online on August 8, looks at the importance of letting kids play
Abhilash S believes that all studies and no play makes Jack a dull boy. In his upcoming Malayalam film Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum, the filmmaker, also a high-school teacher, explores the theme of “giving the vacations back to the children.” Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum is set for release on August 8 on the online streaming platform Mainstream TV, making it the third Malayalam feature film to go for a direct OTT release after Sufiyum Sujatayum and Musical Chair.
"Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum is a children’s film and the story is told through school kids. It is set against the backdrop of a school vacation in a village in Kottayam. I try to address some challenges kids face these days, especially the undue stress on academics at the cost of play," says Abhilash who wrote and directed the film.
He says the movie opens with a temple festival at a village during the school vacation and shows how kids love to enjoy the freedom of open experiences. "They just want to have a good time with other children their age and be allowed to play, but are forced by their parents to join academic-oriented classes even during the summer break. The film explores how this has an impact on the kids," says Abhilash, a native of Kottayam, adding that he gave the theme a “realistic” treatment.
A still from ‘Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum’
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The 41-year-old says it was his experience as a teacher that inspired him to write such a film. "I teach Social Studies and I feel our school education system has some flaws in its approach to students and academics. I developed the script based on some of my own observations inside and outside the classroom," he explains.
The film’s title, Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum, signifies the summer vacation period, that time of the year when kani konna (Laburnam) blooms and mangoes become the flavour of the season in Kerala. Apart from Jaiden Philip of the reality show Top Singer fame who plays the film’s protagonist, the cast features many newcomers. Abhilash says the movie was shot in rustic locales in Kottayam.
Konnappookkalum Mambazhavum had been doing the rounds on the festival circuit for over an year and was featured in the International Children’s Film Festival of Kerala (ICFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram last year. Abhilash says the movie was originally planned for a limited theatre release in March but was postponed due to the pandemic before the makers decided to go for online release. However, the director now feels that this would rather help the film reach a wider audience.
Abhilash’s entry into feature films was through short films, having previously made 12 shorts. He also directed the segment titled ‘Kulukki Sarbath’ in the anthology film Onnum Onnum Moonu, which had a theatre release in 2015.
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