Ramunni, Master Ashok, Vilasini Reema
This film will only screen in-person at BFI Southbank on Thursday 9 December.
A stunning folk tale, shot through with ritual and magic, Govindan Aravindan’s Kummatty is a key work of Indian Parallel Cinema, beautifully restored by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation’s World Cinema project.
Kummatty follows the classic folk tale of the stranger who comes to town and transforms its inhabitants. Kummatty (a bogeyman of sorts) arrives in a rural village, enchanting and terrifying local children in equal parts. Is he a mystic or a trickster? This pied piper has strange powers, and through poetic means, Aravindan shows him casting his spell, transforming children into animals before whisking himself away on the breath of the wind.
Managing to balance the real and the ethereal, this has many charming moments that are a slice of life from Kerala. Yet the film also effortlessly slips into the mystical, with moments of the ecstatic and fantastic studded throughout the film. Able to focus on minute moments – droplets on water, the fluttering of grass – it nonetheless has a grand sweep, shot on beautiful Eastman colour stock. A hymn to nature and to the transforming effects of ritual, Kummatty is a film for all ages from one of India’s New Wave masters who has been unjustly overlooked in Europe.
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, The Film Heritage Foundation and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, in association with General Pictures and the family of Govindan Aravindan. Funding provided by the Material World Foundation.