40-minute English documentary based on Kerala's Green Man goes global 

V K Subash’s latest award-winning documentary is about Kallur Balan, the Green Man of Kerala
Credits: TNIE
Credits: TNIE

Veteran cinematographer and documentary filmmaker V K Subash came across a random video on YouTube a few years ago. It featured a man in his 70s, Balan of Palakkad, who has been dedicating his life to afforestation. And that ignited a spark within the filmmaker, a nature lover. Subash is not new to Kerala’s filmmaking world. His short film Chaaya was officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and for IFFI as well. And now he released his latest work, The Green Man.

The 37-minute-long documentary narrates the life of Kallur Balan, affectionately known as ‘Green Man’, who resides in Kallur in Palakkad district. Over the past 23 years, he has devoted every single day of his life to planting and nurturing over 30 lakh tree saplings, which have now flourished into magnificent, fully-grown trees. He has also planted thousands of trees along highways and other public spaces, further contributing to the restoration of nature’s beauty.

“The village was once as dry as a desert. In the last 23 years, due to his untiring work, the entire village has turned green,” says Subhash. “However, this documentary also focuses on the terrible environmental disasters the world is facing today, and also highlights the ecological disasters our future generation will have to face.” The documentary edited by Kapil Krishnan has S P Prasanth on the sound mixing and Rijosh V A on the background score and comes with an English voice-over narration by Shailesh.

According to Subash, the English documentary produced by AVA Productions is dedicated to late President APJ Abdul Kalam, poet Sugathakumari teacher and all nature lovers. The shooting began on World Environment Day in 2022 and was completed in six months. A major portion was shot in Palakkad, Thrissur, Vypin, Chellanam, Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram. “ It was made in an organic way, capturing the natural changes happening, including sea attacks, natural calamities and varying weather patterns. Shooting in these critical weather conditions was a great challenge. That said, during one of the scenes in Chellanam beach, a monster wave came and washed all of us away, including Balettan,” Subash recounts.

The docu-film focuses on global warming and environmental hazards occurring due to increasing consumerism. Subash also warns society of an upcoming natural calamity. “The documentary is a mode to create aw washed away by the sea. So rather than shifting the natives who live in coastal areas into camps during every sea attack, the authorities must relocate them to another region,” he believes. Subash also feels lucky to have A V Anoop, as the producer. A nature lover, Anoop had worked on the project without any profit motives. The Green Man has already won more than 15 international accolades to date. It will have a special screening for central ministers and members of parliament in July in New Delhi, which will be organised by the World Malayalee Councilareness of environmental conservation. In the next eight to 10 years, most of the coastal belts will be

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