Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A Lifelong Impact

Mollywood director Blessy will soon release his documentary on Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan 

Shevlin Sebastian

Photos: Blessy with Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan; the cover of the DVD 

Noted cartoonist Yesudasan sits near the 100-year-old senior Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan and does a sketch. After that, he asks, in all seriousness, “Thirumeni (Bishop), have you ever tried to draw?”

Mar Chrysostom says, “I am very bad at it. Once I drew a hen and it looked like a duck.” 

Yesudasan breaks into a smile.

In another scene, set in New Delhi, Mar Chrysostom tells Sitaram Yechury, the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), “When I go back to Kerala, I will say I have converted Yechury to Christianity.”

A quick-witted Yechury says, “And I will tell my comrades that I have converted Father to Communism.”

And they both burst out laughing.

These are scenes from Mollywood director Blessy’s documentary, ‘100 years of Chrysostom’. “It is a detailed study of Mar Chrysostom,” says Blessy. And it is divided into five categories: ‘100 Celebrities Versus a Legend’: numerous notables have an interaction with the Bishop; ‘Golden words and classic lines’: these are drawings by noted cartoonists like the late Toms and Boney Thomas; ‘Walking with Chrysostom’: the events he took part in, as well as his speeches, ‘Archives’, and a 90 minute film.

Interestingly, apart from the film, Blessy is also going to upload 40 hours of recordings. “So you can choose what you want to see,” he says.

It has been a two-year labour of love. Asked why he decided to make a film, Blessy says, “We live in an era where religion is narrow-minded and divisive, and people do not accept the believers of other faiths. So, we need the Bishop's attitude of being able to see the face of God in all human beings, whatever religion he belongs to. In fact, the Bishop has moved away from looking at the religious background and focuses only on the individual.”

In the film, the Bishop says, “My friend's God is my God too. Just as I will not hail his father, with a ‘Hey You’, but always with the respect due to a parent, similarly, I cannot treat my friend with disrespect just because he belongs to another faith.”

Thanks to his excellent sense of humour and witty repartees, the Bishop has been close friends with the heads of many religions including Mata Amritanadamayi. In the documentary, Mar Chrysostom is also seen interacting with celebrities like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, actors Mammooty and Mohanlal, singers KJ Yesudas and KS Chithra, former sportspersons PT Usha and IM Vijayan and writers like the late ONV Kurup and MT Vasudevan Nair.

Interestingly, Blessy found Mar Chrysostom a natural in front of the camera. There is a scene where an old woman has to proffer a mug filled with coffee. But since her hands shook, she was given an empty mug. “But we did not inform the Bishop about that,” says Blessy. “But very naturally he took the cup and pretended to drink from it.”

And this constant interaction with the Bishop has led to a change in Blessy. “Earlier, when I would pray to God, it would be to ask Him to fulfill my wishes and dreams,” he says. “But now I have begun praying for others, for society, and the world.”

On the career front, Blessy says, there will be no changes. “I have always made socially-committed films, so I will continue to do that,” he says. “In fact, it is because of this social commitment that I got the idea to do the film on the Bishop in the first place.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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