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Nilima, the true "blue" dance film in Mohiniattam
- Purnima C Menon

February 7, 2018

Ayswaria receives Special Jury Award for Nilima
The short dance film 'Nilima - Beyond the blue… an exploration' received Special Jury Award from Dr. Biju (National Film Award winning director) at Eastern Global Short Film Awards organized by Global Initiative for Excellence on 10th January 2018 at Cochin, Kerala. The eminent jury members were Dr. Biju, Beena Paul, Prakash Bare and Reena Kallingal.

Nilima is a sincere attempt at deconstructing the thoughts of a poet, a person who has decided to stop, watch and then decipher palettes that seemingly would have passed through the eyes of a normal life. While poet, writer and musicologist Mali has gone on to investigate the 'blues' around us, Ayswaria, the director of one of India's first true 'blue' dance films, has picked up from where the senses of the poet merges with the topic of his poetry. She has brought in comparison, the blue ocean, the blueness of the precious stone set in the ring, again something from the ocean, the sky, the blueness of calm, the dark blue of turmoil of rhythm of life.

Ayswaria has used the medium of film, used the camera like a limb to walk through the various aspects of the poetry the film's subject is based on. She has taken creative liberties by showcasing the work through a dance form still evolving from the mists of time. Unlike us humans who still consider blue as a colour, she has merged her vision with that of the renowned poet V. Madhavan Nair (Mali), who sees blue as an emotion. Supporting Ayswaria's direction and choreography is cinematography by Muralikrishna and vocalization by N.N. Sivaprasad.

Filmed on the beach, an ancient wooden paneled home, amidst the oil lamps of Kerala, the quintessential edakka has been her musical companion in this journey. Ayswaria's attempt to set the film in an era fading into the 'blue' was lauded during the screening of Nilima at Delhi Habitat Center on 13th of December 2017. Graced by Minister for Tourism Mr. Alphonse Kannandanam, the eminent panelists included writer Madhavi Menon, art critic Anjana Rajan and dancer Deepti Omchery Bhalla. The effort was appreciated and the investment of thoughts, time, energy and above all the concept was unique.

Madhavi Menon has as a writer and a person who uses puppets as a medium related well with the concept. She lauded the effort and went on to state how such opportunities to reach out using the medium of film should be used more often. She wanted to know how the concept was developed and 'Why Neelima' to which the director explained her take on the visualization through the medium of stage and the screen that she wanted to explore. Dissecting the need for such exploration of mediums, Anjana Rajan went on to relive some of her experiences as a dancer and how she understands the need of the artiste to break stereotypes of mediums. To 'Why Neelima' and the question on the rendition of the colour as a topic of a film, the equation of nature, blue, calmness and the old worldly feeling of warmth was one very convincing reason.

Senior Mohiniattam dancer Deepti Omchery Bhalla dissected the film trying to understand the director's point of view and how the medium has evolved from the time she has been a performer to now creating a need to reach out to more sections and more demanding audiences. Ayswaria has warmed up to the fact that she is sure she will extend this exploration to more topics while keeping in mind the learnings from her first effort. She plans to delve deeper into better camera usage, improvised lighting and also maybe another artiste the next time around.

Over all it was a good reception and went on to highlight how the digital world has entered into the traditional realm of classical dance and music.