Krishand’s sophomore feature, Avasavyuham, has garnered widespread critical acclaim since its release on Sony LIV. The film, apart from its exceptional plot, was appreciated for the creative choices the director had taken. Avasavyuham blends a docufiction narrative. To call it a simple mockumentary would only scratch the surface of the feature’s storytelling brilliance. This article is all about the docu-fiction narrative of Avasavyuham.
For those who are unaware of the film, Avasavyuham focuses on the mystery surrounding the protagonist through the accounts of other characters, while also shedding light on their day-to-day lives. Watch the trailer below:
To begin with, it’s important we discuss what a documentary is. Documentaries are generally intended to document reality, events, and experiences. Over time, it has developed into a filmmaking norm, appreciated around the world. It provides a better outlook on a certain scenario than the dramatised narratives that are prevalent in fiction. While documentary filmmaking doesn’t have the exposure of mainstream or arthouse cinema, it definitely has been essential to the evolution of cinema as an art form.
Docufictions are more or less a sub-category of documentaries. They are often described as fictionalised takes on events, mostly to recreate the event while still holding on to the parameters of a documentary.
A mockumentary, on the other hand, presents fictitious events in a documentary format. They are typically satirical, comedic, or dramatic. Among the three, mockumentary is the most popular form. Thanks to the likes of movies and shows like Borat and The Office.
Now Avasavyuham is mostly a mockumentary. But it’s also part fiction. It presents a fictitious scenario and advances the story in the documentary template while also leaning on moments of cinematic expression in various instances.
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The real question is- How does the film benefit from this approach?
It’s pretty simple. First of all, the material itself is wonderfully written. We don’t often come across movies that tackle unusual storylines on microbudgets. Krishand sure does seem to be inspired by the ideas presented in films like The Shape of Water and The Amphibian Man. For the majority, it may seem like a Herculean task to get right into the essence of such a storyline on budget constraints. That’s where the brilliance of storytelling comes into play. Krishand presents Avasavyuham as a thriller. He isn’t interested in big reveals, but rather focuses on how other characters come to understand the protagonist, with the use of the Rashomon effect.
To those who aren’t familiar with Rashomon, it’s a Japanese thriller film directed by Akira Kurosawa that focuses on different characters explaining accounts of an event from their perspective. The storytelling method later became popular as the Rashomon Effect.
The very use of a Rashomon narrative in the movie helps with the gradual reveal of the mystery surrounding the protagonist. Within this, Krishand also justifies the title. The “toxic symbiosis” between humans and their surroundings becomes more and more evident towards the end of the film. In between, there are moments of cinematic expression that just make the movie more intense than it already was.
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The movie becomes a proper mockumentary in its final act. The way people react to the protagonist’s identity, how they capitalise on it, how they sensationalise it, how it sparks a debate between faith and science, it’s satire at its finest!
Even with the politics, Avasavyuham‘s approach works better than most other “politically correct” films of recent times. It has a very subtle focus on the issue that it highlights by the end. Among the loud political nature of Malayalam films recently, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air.
Malayalam cinema is on a bull run! The industry keeps challenging itself. Avasavyuham is more or less a milestone in that progression.
Before I conclude, I’d like to recommend a few documentaries, docu-fictions, and mockumentaries.
- Documentary- Shoah, Colectiv, Placebo
- Docu-fiction: The Impostor, American Animals, Waltz With Basheer, Flee
- Mockumentary- Death to 2020, What We Do in Shadows, Dark Side of the Moon, Borat, Modern Family, The Office
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