Kerala Cafe, a medley of films about 'God's Own Country' will have it's international premiere at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival.
The medley of 10 cinematic compositions, directed by ten directors, the film is a novel experiment in Malayalam cinema.
"Kerala Cafe has been invited to the Middle East International Film Festival to be held at Abu Dhabi, where it will have its world premier today," noted scriptwriter and director Renjith who is the project designer and the producer. said.
The film which will be commercially released later this month is also seeking entry to the Indian Panorama section at IFFI of Goa.
It was Renjith's idea to make a film on the theme of journey. He shared it with fellow directors who came forward with 10 films of 10-12 minute duration, with Kerala Cafe, a small eating joint linking all of them together as a leitmotif.
Though such 'compilation films had come out in the international circuit like `Paris I love You (2006) by 20 directors about life in the city of love and 'Tickets (2005) by three directors on a train travelling through Italy, it is the first time such an attempt is being made in an Indian language.
Characters in all the films pass the cafe at one time or the other.
"The travellers are curiously bonded though they are complete strangers, caught in times of road blocks, dead ends and detours," Renjith said.
These players, experiencing crises from life changing events, transitions and unpredictable moments in their lives pass through Kerala Cafe.
"We are thrilled by the very positive enquiries we are getting from film buffs who are eagerly waiting the movies release," Renjith said. Notable names in Malayalam cinema, including superhit filmmakers Lal Jose, Shaji Kailas, Anwar Rasheed and B Unnikrishnan have directed the films.
Directors of other films in the collage are Shyamaprasad, Padmakumar,Revathi, Anjali Menon, Shankar Ramakrishnan and Uday Ananthan.
Renjith said all directors were unanimous in saying they never got such creative freedom while doing other films. "There were no strings attached. All of them took it as a challenge to tell a story in 10 to 12 minutes. Untold stories which they had in mind, but could not be filmed due to constraints came out spontaneously,lending flow and freshness to the movie," he said.
The directors could choose the actors, editors and music directors,as there was no compulsion from the production side, except on the commonly agreed theme of journey. Each film was shot within four to five days, Renjith said.
The film stars some of the most well known actors in the industry including Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Dileep and Prithviraj.
Mammootty acts in the Lal Jose film, while Suresh Gopi appears in the film by Shaji Kailas.
With the exception of Mohanlal and Jayaram,all main actors in Malayalam appear in one film or the other in 'Kerala Cafe.'
They include Thilakan, Dileep, Prithviraj, Jayasoorya, Sreenivasan, Rahman, Jagathy Sreekumar, Siddique, Meera Nandan, Reema Kallingal, Sona Nair,Sweta Menon and Navya Nair.
Persons chosen by directors edited each segment,which was later compiled by Vijay Shankar, Renjith said. "The movie in its totality reflects the cinematic impressions of contemporary directors in Kerala," Renjith said.
Renjith, a product of School of Drama, wrote scripts for superhits like 'Devasuram' and 'Aram Thampuran', before donning the director's role with 'Ravanaprabhu' in 2001.
He has since made nine feature films, earning critical appreciation and is now working on three films, two in Malayalam and one in Tamil.
Lal Jose has 14 films to his credit including the yet to be released Tamil movie 'Mazhai Varapoguthu,' while Shaji Kailas has made 25 films, including one each in Tamil (Jana) and Telugu (Vishnu). Anwar Rasheed and Unnikrishnan are mainstream hit makers.
National Award winning director Revathi, who turned director with 'Mitr My Friend' and Anjali Menon, whose first film 'Manjadikuru' was enthusiastically received are the two women directors who are a part of the project.
Padmakumar, director of state award-winning film 'Vasthavam' and debutants Shankar Ramakrishnan and Uday Ananthan have also contributed to the film.
"We all have different journeys, different paths along the way. The films in 'Kerala Cafe' put together these different perceptions, Renjith says. Life is a journey, enjoy the ride, is what 'Kerala Cafe has to tell the audience.