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Original name: Mayanakurippugal (in Tamil)

Duration: 25 minutes

Year of Completion: 2005

Language: Tamil with English subtitles

Format: Mini DV

Form: Documentary


Madurai city has a central crematorium, where dalits (the untouchables or the harijans or people from the scheduled caste) are involved in a traditional occupation that includes carrying dead bodies, burying or burning them and finally accept whatever paid by the relatives of the deceased ones.

The film is a journey into the crematorium to capture the various rituals carried out by the dalits to their fellow citizens who otherwise would not have touched them.

Ironically death comes alive to bring people together. An old Tamil movie song is used in the film to provoke certain existential questions about life and death.

But it is mandatory to have knowledge and skill to become a successful undertaker.

Statement on the film by the director:

My first visit to the Madurai central crematorium was only when one of friends hanged himself to death in September 2004. His body was left alone by his friends and relatives on the pyre after a point to become an exclusive property of the undertakers. The amount of care and indifference – in a peculiar and particular mixture – the undertakers showed towards each dead body left an existential question within me, which provoked this film.

The undertakers’ skill and knowledge on the cremation, their experience of having faced death too often, need to be mentioned.

This film is part of my search towards a narrative style in documentary making, which could be more emotional and less cerebral and which could probably give the audience more space for contemplation.

I am from Tamilnadu, where our popular cinema is full of songs and I am very much fascinated by the way they are used to provoke and sustain drama and emotion in our films. No wonder I used the song twice to raise two different queries at two different sequences.

Camera, sound, script, editing, direction and production: Amudhan R.P.

ryan shaw on February 9th, 2007 at 4:45 pm 

How can I purchase this DVD-Note from the Crematorium?

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