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Times of India
: It is a docu-fiction on the Endosulfan tragedy.
: Say docufiction and one might imagine a bland recital of facts and figures and sob stories by victims. But, Dr Biju's Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal is different. The film, which has been screened at various festivals, chronicles the making of the much-discussed photo feature of endosulfan-affected children by real life photojournalist Madhuraj (played by Kunchako Boban).
There is no voice over typical to a documentary. The history and ill effects of pesticide in villages of Kasaragod and the Indian government's stand on the issue unfold through the words of people - some real, some actors. A seamless weaving of fact and fiction, the film has more impact than a documentary.
The highlight of the film is the sequences featuring real endosulfan-affected children and it captures the horror and tragedy of their lives beautifully, sans melodrama. The children are shown with names and personalities and they are shown as interacting with the actor, seemingly unaware that he is one.
There is almost zero lag and the only instances of artificiality are the sequences canned in Canada, where the UN summit is held. The staged scenes with foreign actors almost disrupt the poignancy created by the village sequences.
Kunchako lives his role and his tears seem real. Prakash Bare, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Salim Kumar too have done their small but significant parts convincingly. There is no resolution at the end of the film and the future of many of the victims remain uncertain.
It takes patience to watch a documentary in a mainstream theatre, but the effort is worth it. Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal is by no means an entertainer or even a 'Veettilekkulla Vazhi' kind of film, but it is informative, poignant and painfully real. - Asha Prakash