Priya Krishnaswamy’s Tamil film Baaram and Praveen Morchhale’s Ladakhi film Walking With The Wind (2017) are among the 12 films nominated for the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal. Both the films are part of the Indian Panorama section of the ongoing 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
IFFI has collaborated with International Council for Film, Television and Audio-Visual Communication (ICFT) Paris to present the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal to a film that best reflects Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence. The award will be announced at the closing ceremony of IFFI on Tuesday (28 November).
Baaram is a 92-minute film about the social practice of Thalaikoothan, meaning cold bath, a euphemism for mercy killing. Remarkably, the practice in which different ways are used to put to rest elderly family members has social sanction. It follows the story of an old man Karuppaswamy and his sudden death after an accident in which his hip is injured.
Speaking to us about the film, Krishnaswamy said, “We operate from fear now, and that fear is also a vulnerability. So when we laugh, we are vulnerable and we don’t want to be. When we were researching this we found there are 26 documented ways to kill. It goes from poison injections, pesticides and tablets mixed into tea. They [the elderly] are asking to be killed. We don’t want to be connected now. The 26 ways to kill is like a grayscale, you go from white to black cinematically. We can mathematically calibrate how much fear and dissonance is there now. When we talk about selfishness, lack of money, etc., it’s all about fear.”