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I am in the pre-production phase of creating my first feature film DESERT SHADOWS
based on the acclaimed novel in malayalam, "MARUBHOOMIKAL UNDAVUNNATHU" by Anand
This is the story of KUNDAN who joins as a labour officer in a secret, strategic military installation of the Government. He is in charge of the labour force that works in the installation site, away in the ancient fort situated in the old town at the heart of the DESERT. He has to deal with two types of labourers. One, the contract labour, 'Pioneer Force' recruited from among the ordinary local inhabitants and the other, 'Prisoners Force' recruited from the prisons all over the country, who are sentenced to capital punishment, awaiting their execution sooner or later. These are the ones who work in the most secret areas of the installation.
The story is placed at a time of severe drought condition. For five consecutive years there was no rain. Getting employment at the installation was the only hope for the locals. For the prisoners this was an extended lease for their life. Through this story woven among the officers, prisoners and local villagers, a poignant tale of oppression, sorrow, and compassion is told. In its complexity the story also tells about the socio-political existence of present-day India and for that matter it also becomes a study on the tyranny of any government too.
On a routine business day of exchanging new prisoners for an old batch [no batch is kept for a longer period at the installation] KUNDAN notices disparity between the records and identity of a prisoner named 'Pasupathi Singh'. At first he rejects the city prison warden's plea to overlook the matter. Eventually KUNDAN realises that the real Pasupathi is free and this is a stand-in for him - SULAIMAN. KUNDAN tries to save SULAIMAN from this predicament of injustice. Against all odds Kundan tries very hard without any result. It becomes an impossible and comical pursuit. But, Sulaiman without waiting for the gallows ends up under a fallen iron beam. Others too come into his life. BHOLA who ran away from the camp, but brought back by the camp police; another deserter DANIEL who comes back to re-join the camp, who by record is dead. KUNDAN can only offer a death certificate to Daniel.
After SULAIMAN'S death KUNDAN takes it upon him to go to SULAIMAN'S village to inform his wife and relatives about the tragedy. He considers this as his minimum human responsibility. During this travel KUNDAN encounters the real life in Indian villages. This journey becomes his enlightenment. Then he takes up the causes of all who are exploited and disaffected by bogus strategic installations and fake communal riots. All the boiling issues of a betrayed people become his own. KUNDAN, through a lot of strange experiences realises that it is not only a few prisoners or helpless villagers; but it is the whole population of a nation that the MODERN STATE crushes for its cruel aims, through it's power mechanisms.
When the life blood which connects man to man is destroyed, when the sandy rough murmuring of the voice of Power kills all soft genial voices, When a cruel Government hunt it's own helpless, desolate people like a blinding sandy wind, then the growth of the DESERT into the society and human hearts and minds become total. At one level, this story reveal to us the true meaning of LOVE, COMPASSION and SACRIFICE and at a different level makes us aware of the need for bettering ourselves, because, LOVE demands the best from ourselves, it asks us to be on guard at each moment.