Lijo Jose Pellissery's latest directorial effort Jallikattu is a timely reminder that the thin line which separates humans from animals is shrinking, something that the filmmaker believes should concern everyone.
The film, follow-up to Lijo's critically-acclaimed features Angamaly Diaries and Ee.Ma.Yau, was screened here at the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) on Friday and received a thunderous response from the audiences.
Jallikattu, which derives its name from the popular-yet-controversial bull-taming event from the South, is about a tribe of men coming together to stop a bull that has run amok in their village. It gives a glimpse into man's primal desire for violence and how at his worst point, he is no different from the animal.
Lijo's spectacular directing effort is ably supported by Girish Gangadharan's cinematography and Renganaath Ravee's wild sound design work.
After the film's screening, Lijo revealed that he had already decided to make the film before he started working on Angamaly Diaries but the only hindrance was to showcase a bull that does not come across as a "cartoon". "The film is based on a short story by S Hareesh and so we took it and expanded on it. For me, there are just two characters in the film one is the buffalo and the other is the crowd
"The script was actually there before 'Angamaly Diaries' but the only thing that was bothering us was how to crack buffalo on screen. I didn't want the buffalo to look like a cartoon because the topic that we were exploring in the film was very serious. So I wanted the buffalo to look exactly like a live animal," Lijo said.
He said it was only after three-four years that they solved the problem and then decided to proceed with the film's shooting.
"Our art director spent a lot of time in creating an animatronic buffalo. So we mostly used that for the film and a little bit of VFX to support it. That's how we successfully created the animal." Lijo believes the current times are the most chaotic in the history of mankind.
"The difference between man and animal is reducing. We have explored and worked on this shrinking space in the film," he added. The filmmaker also revealed that the movie's climax scene required over two thousand people, which involved daily wage workers from the tea gardens.
Jallikattu had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and later toured Busan International Film Festival.
The eighth edition of DIFF will run till Nov 10.