Perhaps it looks similar to Malgudi Days. But then, wouldn't you love anything that looks similar to Malgudi Days anyway?
The Alliance Francaise Of Hyderabad, in association with Hyderabad Film Club and Flying Elephants, is screening a Malayalam short film, Unni – Life Is All About Friends, by Murali Nair, at Prasad Labs Preview Theatre, this Saturday. Scripted and directed by Murali Nair, the film was co-produced by Patou Films International France, Maya Films India and Flying Elephant Films, UK. It is supported by Fond du Sud of the Foreign Ministry of France, Pusan Promotion Plan of the Pusan International Film Festival of South Korea, Vision du Sud (Swiss Agency for Development) and the Hubertbaals Fund of Rotterdam film festival.
Unni - Life Is All About Friends tells the story of Unni, a young boy from a village in Kerala, South India, and his friends Gopi, Ramu and Raju as they get together at the start of a new school year.
Unni comes from an upper-caste, Nair family. His mother and grandmother, with whom he lives, enforce the strict, orthodox rules Nairs are expected to follow. It's a privileged world, but one that leaves Unni frustrated. Fortunately for him, life outside home is very different.
Led by trouble-maker Gopi, Unni gets up to all kinds of mischief at school. Along with Ramu and Raju, he is involved in a series of incidents - whether it's putting itching powder on his teacher's desk, peeping into the girls' toilet to discover why girls squat to pee, or trying to deliver a love letter to the new girl Sujatha - which teach him about friendship, sorrow, love and life.
Inevitably the boys get into trouble, and though they briefly fall out, they are quick to realise that their friendship is what counts most and that they must stick together. This isn't easy for Unni however, whose mother and teachers strongly disapprove of the influence that lower-caste Gopi seems to have on him.
Like many boys growing up in Kerala, Unni's father works in the Middle-East, and so he grows up without a male role model to emulate or to discipline him. When his mother announces therefore that his father will be coming back to visit them, Unni is nervous.
An awkward first meeting soon gives way to happiness as Unni plays with the presents his father has brought him. While he is proud to show off his new gifts to his friends, Unni can't help but feel upset for Gopi, whose father is an unemployed, wife-beating drunk.
Life is All About Friends skilfully tells the tale of a young boy coming of age, discovering the truths of life – little and large - and how he comes to terms with the new feelings this creates. Bharathan Njarakkal has once again collaborated with Murali Nair in developing this charming story set in rural Kerala, which will appeal to, and resonate with, audiences everywhere.
Life Is All About Friends was shot at the Alathur village, near Kodakara, Thrissur District, Kerala, the main location being the Alathur Lower Primary school and its vicinity. The major roles are played by Master Ajith, Master Sarath, Master Likhil and Master Noble, all pupils from the famed Sree Krishna High School where Murali once studied.
Murali Nair will be present at the venue on this occasion. Unni was previewed during the recent Hyderabad International Film Festival held in March '07. It was also premiered at the Pusan International film festival, South Korea, and has been invited in many festivals in Europe and America. All previous films of Murali Nair – Marana Simhasanam (The Throne of Death), Pattiyude Divasam (The Dog’s Day) and Arimpara (The Wart) - were shown at the Official Section at the Cannes.
The entry to the film is free. For further details, please contact the Alliance Francaise at 2770-0734/2770-0736 or Bh S S Prakash Reddy of the Hyderabad Film Club at 2373-0841/93910-20243.