By Shevlin Sebastian
Photo by Ratheesh Sundaram
On the evening of May 9, director Blessy got an e-mail which sent his heart aflutter. The Guinness World Records Award told him he had set the world record for the longest documentary. The film, ‘100 Years of Chrysostum’, is about the life of the 102-year-old senior Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan. At 48 hours 10 minutes, it easily defeated the earlier record of 21 hours.
But there was a long process to apply for the award. Blessy had to send the details about the film, the number of shots and rushes, and how long it was. He also needed a certificate from the Censor Board. Interestingly, online, they could only issue a certificate which is 999 minutes long. But Blesssy’s film is 2880 minutes long. So they had to upgrade their site.
“Then for seven days, at Thiruvananthapuram, the Board Members saw the film before they issued the certificate,” says Blessy. “This is the longest film that they had ever seen. A premiere show had to take place. I had to do a public screening for five consecutive days before it could be eligible for the award.”
The shooting began on May 1, 2015, and it took two years to finish. 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 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 Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suesh Gopi, 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.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)