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Insha and the sea – The Hindu

Siju Vijayan’s Malayalam film revolves around a wheel-chair user’s secret desire

Insha dreams of the sea. She has only only seen the vast blue expanse on Ali’s canvases. Smitten by the white spray of the waves and the changing shades of the deep blue, she expresses her secret desire to see the ocean to her cousin and friend, Ali. Thirteen-year-old Insha, a wheel-chair user, is confined to her home and sees the world through Ali and his friends.

Malayalam film Insha, releasing on March 19, pivots around the life of Insha, whose friends fight all odds to take her to see the ocean. Living in an island off Kochi, Insha feels cut off from the world outside her island more so because of her disability.

The film is a dream-come-true for its director and producer Dr Siju Vijayan, who spent almost four years on it. A homeopathy doctor, who practices at his own clinic in Arukutti (Alappuzha district), Siju is a wheel-chair user himself. “I have been working towards this day for the past 20 years,” he says over phone. He started work on the film in 2019 and completed shooting in just 19 days.What followed were days of post production, censorship and distribution; it was a challenge to get the film, which didn’t have any big names screened. However, the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) allotted three theatres to the film and it seemed like a moment of victory. But COVID-19 struck and theatres were shut indefinitely. “We waited for a year and finally, it is becoming a reality,” he says.

Siju, who is also an artist, raised funds for the project by selling his own mural art. “I would take orders till I was confident that I could raise enough to produce my film,” he says. Even as a student (in Maharajas college, Ernakulam), Siju was passionate about films — watching every film that came out, some over and over. “I used to cut out film posters and collect them from a very young age. I would buy film magazines just to collect posters. I knew I wanted to make a film some day.”

Siju has spinal muscular atrophy, a neurological condition that is characterised by weakness of the muscles. Throughout his years of schooling and college, he could walk with help. However, by 2013, Siju started using a power wheel chair that helped him move around without help. After completing homeopathy from Sri Vidyadhiraja Homeopathy Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Siju set up his own clinic. “By then, my mind was focussed on filmmaking. I started working, learning every step of the way by myself.”

From 2012 to 2018, Siju made over 10 short, documentary and ad films such as Novu and Wheel to Reel A Dream Journey. “The ideal way to learn would have been to assist a director, but I knew it would be difficult with my disability. So I chose to learn it myself,” says Siju.

He is satisfied with the way Insha has turned out. “Cinema is a feeling. Every aspect of filmmaking is focussed on creating that feeling. I believe I have been able to do that.”

Insha will be released at KSFDC theatres in Thiruvananthapuram, Cherthala and North Paravur (Ernakulam) on March 19. Later, it would be play at Thrissur, Palakkad and Kozhikode as well.

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