A couple of days ago, there was jubilation among fans of Manu S Pillai, the award-winning author of The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore, when it was announced that the book is likely to be adapted for the silver screen. Arka Mediaworks, the production house behind Baahubali, had reportedly optioned the audio-visual rights of the book. Reacting to the news on social media, Manu pointed out that given the scale of the book and its setting, the work might take time to be adapted as a film.
By the time people were wondering who would don the main characters , there was another announcement on Facebook by another award-winning author, also from Kerala, who has been making waves with his poetic prose and evocative imagination. Anees Salim quietly posted on his page that his book The Small-Town Sea would be adapted for the screen by none other than auteur Shyamaprasad.
The director was in the news for winning his fifth State film award for the best director for his film, Oru Njayarazhcha. Explaining the reason for choosing the book for his next work, Shyamaprasad writes that has to do with “my big passion for literature and movies that centre around a child, beginning with the Apu Trilogy and several shorts I attempted on the small screen, based on Madhavikutty’s stories and Ullurukkam by NP Mohammed for the national network. Anees’ book captured my heart so much so that I was pursuing a film project based on it soon after I read it.”
The novel is a story of growing up that is set in a small coastal town in Kerala, which resembles Varkala, where the author hails from. With great sensitivity and flair, Anees writes about a teenager whose life goes through several upheavals as his father falls ill and decides to spend his last days in his home town. The Small-Town Sea was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize in 2017. Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Blind Lady’s Descendants in 2018, Anees had won the The Hindu Literary Prize (2013) for his work, Vanity Bagh.
With two brilliant minds coming together, expectations would naturally be high as the heart-warming novel becomes a cinematic experience.