When i translated the article about Padayani into malayalam i had noticed that one of the major references was the work of Kadammanitta Vasudevan Pilla. I contacted the author and my editor contacted Mr Pillai's son before i spoke. We set up a time and date for the meet.
Then i got to know that the queer pride march in Kozhikode was going to happen on the same day. I pushed the meeting a day behind and was supposed to reach Kadammanitta on 6th July 2015. On the evening before that, i leaned that there were no tickets available for Janasadabdhi, the train which would take me to Chengannur. I made up my mind to go by bus. From the new KSRTC complex in Mavoor road, i took a bus to Ernakulam. From there i took one to Kottayam. It was around 7 p.m when i reached kottayam. There was no way i could hold the meeting on that day. There was no chance that i could attend the queer pride march the next day too. Bad planning is what i was born with. Not even that. I think I was born with no planning whatsoever.
I was not sure if anybody would rent a room to a woman alone. In Trivandrum i had learned that this was not possible. In the lodge next to Kottayam bus station i pretended to be non mallu and asked for a room. They gave it readily. I am intimidated by hotel rooms. I wish it had something to do with Psycho, but sadly life is not so filmy. I have too many bad memories in hotel rooms and feel i am under threat all the time. For me those are places away from 'home'. Home was safe. Hotels were not. If the place is dirty i feel even worse. And this one was. Slovenly. I stayed there that night and set off to Thiruvalla early in the morning of the next day. From Thiruvalla i took a bus to Kozhancheri. In Kozhancheri bus station i waited for two whole hours for a bus to Kadammanitta because nobody gave me the right directions. It was sickening. I hate wasting time when i don't want to. A peanut seller took pity on me and asked why i was there for such a long time. When i said i was waiting for a a bus to Kadammanitta he put a sympathetic hand to his own head and said so many buses had gone by. He took me to the right place.I bough narangamuttai from him and had all of them.
I had been to Kottayam once in high school for a State level science fest. Not many memories about that except the fun trip, antakshari etc. This time what i noticed was that the place was just rubber. There were rubber plantations all around and a lone house in middle. House is a petty name for those structures. Those were huge palaces. I got scared seeing some of them. Why were these people so rich?! Could anybody be so rich! I looked at all the rubber trees around the houses and got an answer. Cash crop was literally that.
I reached Kadmmanitta around 12 pm. Mr Pilla's house was right next to the temple where padayani was performed. He spoke to me about how the art form was etc. I presented the script to him and asked if there was any song which would go with that. He asked me to buy a book written by him. I said okay and he gave me a copy he had. It was Rs. 70. The book is called 'Padeni' and is published by Kerala Bhasha Institute and has around 500 pages. I would have to read it and select three song portions that i myself thought was best for the theme. I was very excited and tried hard not to show it. I got an autographed copy of the book and left saying i would get back to him after reading the book. It will travel with me from Kozhikode to Kolkata. More than films, i think i like the journeys we make to make films.
I reached back Kottayam around 3 p.m, vacated the room and went in search of a bus. One which was going to Mananthavadi was revving the engine. I jumped in. More than seven hours on that and i was back by 1 a.m in Kozhikode. I felt good to be back home. I think home is what i need the most in life. Some place to go back to. For some, it's a person. Blessed are those.
I had created a whatsapp group for the crew and kept updating everyone on it as to what was happening. Soon we would have to record the track. The excitement was slowly building up. Ah what a beautiful thing is cinema is.