Examining the legend of the Odiyan clan
It is the legend of Odiyan real? Novin Vasudev , Director of Iravilum Pakalilum Odiyan , he made the documentary with the aim of bursting the myth about the community of northern Kerala that, according to legend, used to change form and adopt animal forms, but feels that he was persecuted by something from another world during filming.
“While it is inspired by the film Odiyan by VA Shrikumar, it is independent of the film,” says Novin of the documentary, which is set to premiere in the non-feature Indian Panorama section at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa on November 23. “It is crafted as an investigation of the myth by Mohanlal , who presents the documentary from his point of view ”. The 28-minute documentary was written by T Arunkumar and filmed in the forests of Nilambur and Varanasi.
The documentary has interviews with the 38th generation of an Odiyan family, women black-magicians and people who have seen the figure of the Odiyan, with the latter losing their voice out of fear. It also has interesting takes by actor Manju Warrier who had played the female protagonist in the movie, says Novin.
“We spoke to someone whose grandfather was an Odiyan. We look at the historical, social, political and psychological perspectives of the legend, ”he says, explaining that the Odiyan is a phenomenon that worked on people’s fears, because it was something that appeared at night. He points out that it was a myth used by the upper caste to stop people from questioning their nefarious activities and venturing out to places that the former didn’t want them to go to.
But there is also a theory that it was used by the lower caste community, from which the Odiyan came, to instil fear in the upper castes. Novin points out that the Odiyan legend, which died down with the coming of electricity, thus has a multi-dimensional tone. The documentary has filmed a fictionalized account, using theater actor Lal Kumar, showing the physical skills of the Odiyan.
But what astounded Novin throughout the shoot was that an animal related to the Odiyan legend, would always mark its presence. While interviewing writer E Kannankutty who had written a novel on the Odiyan, in Palakkad, there was a dog constantly barking in the background. In a similar incident, while filming Manju Warrier in a field in Pulle, Thrissur, a bunch of goats unexpectedly came into the frame.
“I confirmed that there was something mystical. Throughout the documentary, you will hear the sounds of creatures, such as bats and cicadas. The documentary tries to say that there is a sort of Odiyan in all of us; we take on different forms in our different moods, ”says Novin.