BJIFF: Indian film 'Fear' wins Tiantan Award for best cinematography
Updated 23:02, 20-Apr-2019
Khushboo Razdan

"I am excited to get this DOP (director of production) award to Nikhil S Praveen, he truly deserves this award," said acclaimed Indian filmmaker Jayaraj in an exclusive interview with CGTN Digital after his film "Fear" won the prestigious Tiantan Award for best cinematography at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) in Beijing on Saturday. 

Set in the late 1930s, the movie tells the story of a WWI veteran who's now a distraught postman in a small Indian village. The ex-soldier is seen as a symbol of prosperity, delivering money and telegrams to soldiers' families, until the break of WWII, which ushers in his transformation to a messenger of death. 

"My biggest challenge was to tell the story of war without showing war scenes or gunshots," Jayaraj told CGTN Digital. 

Indian filmmaker Jayaraj (L) receives Tiantan Award for best cinematography for his film "Fear" from Iraninan filmmaker Majid Majidi (R) at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing, April 20, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Indian filmmaker Jayaraj (L) receives Tiantan Award for best cinematography for his film "Fear" from Iraninan filmmaker Majid Majidi (R) at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing, April 20, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Reflecting the character's shift, the entire movie is segregated into two color tones – joyous and colorful, and melancholic and black and white. 

"Through the emotions alone, through the contribution of nature's emotions we have narrated the horrors of war. Before the war everything is colorful and bright but as the war begins everything in the village loses its color, everything turns dark, because there's fear, said Jayaraj, adding that "I think fear is the maximum level of human emotion and a war is the exact representation of fear because we are thinking about death – and death is the biggest fear," he said.

A poster for the film 'Fear.' /courtesy BJIFF.com

A poster for the film 'Fear.' /courtesy BJIFF.com

The filmmaker said that the poetically-woven "Fear" has only one message: "Wars solve no issues."

He's noticed a dissonance in the way the levels of anxiety and uncertainty has increased, even as education has become more widespread. The fear of war remains as countries around the world continue to preserve bombs and nuclear missiles. "The fear of war, which is the fear of death, is universal," he added. 

Navarasa Series (nine emotions): A cinematic experiment 

The movie is based on two chapters of the voluminous Malayalam novel called "Kayar" (translated as Coir in English) stretches across seven generations in the time span of 150 years, and includes almost 100 characters and innumerable side stories. It's also the sixth in the director's cinematic experiment called "Navarasa Series" (nine emotions). 

Indian filmmaker Jayaraj (L) during an interview with CGTN Digital. /Courtesy of Chen Hao Ping

Indian filmmaker Jayaraj (L) during an interview with CGTN Digital. /Courtesy of Chen Hao Ping

The idea behind this ambitious project began with his contemplation about the expression of nine human emotions through rain. "Actually, I was planning to make a movie in the backdrop of rain but when I started making the movie I realized that in one movie it's very difficult to express... rain, so I needed more films because rain is the enhancing factor of all emotions," Jayaraj told CGTN Digital.

"If you are watching a suppression scene or departure it's the rain that enhances the emotion, if it's a funeral scene and there's rain, it will be more painful, if there's violence and there's rain you feel more violence so everything is enhanced by rain…if a person is in isolation and there's rain it hurts more...the expression of rain is pathos."

A poster of Veeram Macbeth (Bravery). /Courtesy of Veeram Official via Facebook

A poster of Veeram Macbeth (Bravery). /Courtesy of Veeram Official via Facebook

The epic series began in 2000 with "Karunam" (Pathos) which is about old-age isolation, followed by "Shantham" (Peace) on political violence, "Bheebatsam" on child sexual abuse, "Athbhutham" (Surprise) about euthanasia, "Veeram Macbeth" (Bravery) and "Bhayanakam" (Fear). The next film in the series "Roudram" (Anger) is set to be released in June this year. 

(L-R) Actor Renji Panicker, filmmaker Jayaraj with his wife and actress Sabitha Jayaraj at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing, April 15, 2019. /CGTN Photo

(L-R) Actor Renji Panicker, filmmaker Jayaraj with his wife and actress Sabitha Jayaraj at the 9th Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing, April 15, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Talking about the last movie in the series "Hasya" (Humor) Jayaraj said, "Humor is the most difficult emotion and that's why I have kept it for the end, because all other emotions I can easily convey and I can easily express sorrow, fear but humor is difficult. First I want to study more about what's the real humor."

'Fear' in China soon?

Jayaraj, the winner of seven National Awards, the highest honor in cinema in India, said that he is hoping to secure a China release of "Fear" soon. "Today, compared to other countries, China has the biggest potential in the world for cinema,” he said, adding that he would love to do a joint venture in Chinese. 

"My biggest challenge was to tell the story of war without showing war scenes or gunshots," said acclaimed Indian filmmaker Jayaraj, in an exclusive interview with CGTN Digital.