Salim Ahmed: My movie will get its due
Ten years ago, when Salim Ahmad thought of making a movie, people laughed at him. Today this 39-year-old debutant scriptwriter-director-producer from Kerala is the most-wanted man in the Indian movie industry. Ahmad's National Award-winning film Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam) has been named India's official entry for the Academy Awards this year.
"I am still in awe but I knew my movie will get its due no matter what," said Ahmad, who was sidelined by smaller award committees within the state after giving him comments and tips to improve.
The movie's lead star Salim Kumar bagged the National Award for the best actor of the year; its cinematographer Madhu Ambat won the award for being the best in the country; while Isaac Thomas Kottukapally took the award for best lyricist for his work in the same film.
Ahmad, who wrote scripts for comedy and reality shows for a regional television channel, spent almost 10 years doing the homework for his first movie. "It was my first movie but I was well-prepared. I was pretty sure that if I do something for the big screen, it had to be something credible and of quality."
Happy to note that the movie has seen success, though it came almost a year after its release, Ahmad said: "There is no medium better than movies to tell any message, touch the hearts of people and stay there forever."
The movie narrates the struggles of a poor perfume seller to collect money for Haj. Abu fails every time to collect enough money to make it even as the movie ends. The movie ends on a very philosophical note where Abu finds the wise reason why he was denied the opportunity another time and continues trying again from scratch without losing hope.
"It is every Muslim's ambition to make it to the Holy Land. Abu depicts the original or real Muslim — not the one the media has unfortunately portrayed for various reasons," said Ahmad, who comes from Kannur, a district in north Kerala.
Having worked as a travel agent in the past, Ahmad has planned many trips to Makkah and knew plenty of people who lived with the ambition of somehow making the Haj pilgrimage. "The movie is drawn from my own life and interpretation of things around me. Empathy is a missing element in today's mad rush for many things," said Ahmad, who is keen on creating more socially committed movies.
Does he hope to bag the Oscar?
"Who doesn't? It is every creative person's basic want to get acknowledged. I am keenly waiting to hear the good news."
Work comes first for Salim Kumar
Actor Salim Kumar is glad to know that his fans in Dubai are delighted to hear his opinion on receiving the National Award for his performance as Abu. When tabloid! contacted him, he was down with fever and yet was at work - busy between takes of an ongoing shoot."Dear friend, like you have a deadline, I too have one at the moment. I am sorry you will have to call me when I am off work. It is because of my work that you have perhaps found me — I am committed to attending to it properly," he said. "My sincere apologies, I am not in a position to plug out of the sets and give you my reactions on the subject that concerns you right now."