ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

From ‘Fan’ to ‘Critic’: The (Dis)engagement between Filmmakers and Spectators in Kerala


Edachira Manju - Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi), Humanities and Social Sciences, Delhi, India


49 – Public Knowledge: Audiences in South Asian Media and Screen Studies


 This paper attempts to look at two recent public responses towards filmmakers in Kerala (a south Indian state) in connection with their cinematic oeuvre within the changing public sphere in the state. Firstly, it examines the crowd response to filmmaker and Kerala Chalachitra Academy Chairperson, Ranjith’s concluding remarks at International Film Festival of Kerala. The audience howled at Ranjith for the gaps in the organization of the film festival which provoked him, and he referred them as ‘dogs’ who bark at their master. Secondly, it interrogates the recent controversy on filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s comments on female cleaning staff at K. R. Narayanan Film Institute, Kerala. While the misogynist, communalist and casteist films done by them have been received well by the spectators in an earlier era, the same in a public space have been condemned and being mocked at through various social media platforms and trolls. These events expose the (dis)engagements between the filmmakers and the public, beyond the screen. Here, the public moves away from the receiving end and engage with the film discourse of Kerala, not only through social media but also through print media and TV. Moreover, both the instances involve public institutions, which further prompted extra critical response from the public. Thus, the paper attempts to juxtapose these ‘events’ with their ‘films’ and examines the complexities and conceptualizations of ‘fan’ and ‘critic’ in South Asian Film Studies.