The story of celebrated writer Kamala Surayya, who shocked pseudo moralists and custodians of conventional values through her bold writings in English and Malayalam, will come alive on the silver screen, possibly with Vidya Balan in the title role.
Eminent director Kamal is planning to bring out the movie on Surayya, who wrote in English as Kamala Das and enriched Malayalam literature with her highly acclaimed short stories and memoirs under the pseudonym Madhavikutti.
Kamala, whose memoirs “Ente Katha” (My story) shocked conservative Malayalis in the 1970s, later changed her name to Kamala Surayya after embracing Islam a few years before her death in 2009.
According to Kamal, the movie is conceived not as a “realistic biopic” but as an “independent journey through the personal and literary life of Surayya, who was torn away the hypocrisies of pseudo moralists but boldly stood for the wounded womanhood through her works.”
The director said the thread of this movie had been in his mind for quite some time and he would work out the plot after completing his ongoing project, a political satire in which superstar Mammootty appears as the protagonist.
“The thread is in my mind. After completing my present movie, I will move on to the project on Surayya. Vidya Balan is in my mind for playing the title role,” he told PTI.
Rather than a realistic biopic it would be an independent attempt to see the life and works of the writer from the perspective of a reader.
Born in an aristocratic Nair family in Punnayurkkulam in Thrissur district and daughter of eminent poet Balamani Amma, Surayya has left a rich body of literary work.
The most sensational, and arguably widely read of all of them, is ‘Ente Katha’, which was initially propogated as her real-life story, but she herself clarified later that it was just an “imaginary work.”
Her other major works are ‘Childhood Memoirs’, ‘Summer in Calcutta’, ‘Alphabet of Lust’, ‘Descendants’ and Collected poems.
“No woman writer has ever surprised or shocked Malayalis’ psyche like Surayya. She was not afraid of anyone while writing or in saying what she had in her mind,” Kamal, who had a close acquaintance with the writer, said.
“Though there have been a number of studies about her works and some docu films on her life, she is yet to receive the deserved recognition even five years after her death,” Kamal said.
The complex persona of Surayya would be safe in the hands of Vidya, who has proved her talent through a handful of bold and beautiful roles, the director said.
“I have not made any formal discussion about the project with Vidya. I just mentioned it during an informal chat some months back,” he said.
Since it would not be a conventional biopic, there was no need to be over conscious about the physical resemblance of the actors with the real life characters, he said.
“I am planning to focus more on the literary life of Surayya– from a budding writer to the time of her conversion to Islam. She lost her self and identity during the twilight of her life. The movie will try to read her thoughts and inner conflicts from the perspective of one of her readers,” he said.
Kamal, who has made many hits and critically acclaimed movies, including state award winning “Celluloid “, which narrated the story of Kerala’s first filmmaker J C Daniel, said he could anticipate controversies while filming the story of a writer like Surayya but was not scared of that possibility.
“Of course, Surayya pursued her career in the midst of controversies. So I think controversies will be there. But I have no fear because my movie is my independent reading about the writer and her works and not a conventional biopic,” he added.