CHUNDAN  BLUEPRINT

k.sheker

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"Chundan" is our latest film project.

It will combine the nostalgic charm of Navodaya's Vadakkan-pattu and Kalaripayattu movies with the historical fidelity of our Television serial

"Bible Ki Kahaniyan".  

 

The Chundan vallam has a special place in the hearts of Malayalis.

This boat features prominently in the annual festival calendar of Kerala.

The long sleek craft can rouse many emotions in the beholder including competitive fervor during boat races and devotional ardor during temple festivals.  

 

What is not so well-known is that once upon a time the Chundan had a more belligerent role to play in our history. It was a time when the Iruttukuthi ruled the backwaters with its lightning speed and the ability to carry out blitzkrieg raids on the paddies of Kuttanad.    

 

The Chundan was an inspired design of stealth and maneuverability. It could turn on the proverbial dime and ram the opponent and shred it. Over the years the Chundan has of course changed in shape and form to reflect more the functions it has to fulfill today.    

 

Kottarathil Sankunni's Aithihyamala records a tale of espionage and intrigue between the competing kingdoms of Ambalapuzha and Kayamkulam for possession of these water-borne implements of war. 

The Iruttukuthi (aka Oadi), the warhorse of kings and pirates, wreaked havoc on the Kuttanad waters for centuries.

It harassed the common man, plundering his home and harvest by sheer speed and surprise.

However the Iruttukuthi had one shortcoming - poor maneuverability.

A turn was executed by having the rowers turning around in their seats. 

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Since we are recreating the material culture of a region and a people 300 years back in time, every detail has to be extensively researched and developed before it is committed to camera.

 

Preliminary research into the subject has turned up numerous areas that require such detailed exploration.

These include architecture, carpentry, military science, naval architecture, metallurgy, musicology, etc.    

The skill and craft of Kerala architecture that is evident in the structure of the Iruttukuthi and the Chundan are similar to the cunning artifice that defines the palace at Padmanabhapuram and Sree Padmanabha temple at Thiruvananthapuram.

 

We intend to tell our story with all the grandeur it deserves.

Illustrations by Namboodiri, RK and  Narayana Murthy

Since we are recreating the material culture of a region and a people 300 years back in time, every detail has to be extensively researched and developed before it is committed to camera.

 

Preliminary research into the subject has turned up numerous areas that require such detailed exploration.

These include architecture, carpentry, military science, naval architecture, metallurgy, musicology, etc.    

The skill and craft of Kerala architecture that is evident in the structure of the Iruttukuthi and the Chundan are similar to the cunning artifice that defines the palace at Padmanabhapuram and Sree Padmanabha temple at Thiruvananthapuram.

 

We intend to tell our story with all the grandeur it deserves.

Illustrations by Namboodiri, RK and  Narayana Murthy

Chundan-Brochure-2.jpg

design k.sheker

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illustrations - kunjappa, rk, moorthy

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The Kayamkulam spying arm was manned by a sole operative, Agent Ottaal.

The one-man-spy-wing of Ambalapuzha was Agent Thettaali.  

 

Thettaali was a vendor of the specialized metalware of Aranmula - whose metallurgy & polishing technique have always been closely guarded secrets. He sold his merchandise among the affluent in Kayamkulam as a cover to his operations.  

Ottaal of Kayamkulam was a Thattaan ― of goldsmith caste, by profession.    

This provided an effective front for his covert activities.

As accomplished craftsman, Ottaal had access to all the rich households of Ambalapuzha.    

With these two experts vying for Chundan’s design, how long shall it remain a secret? 

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Ambalappuzha Kingdom.

Underground Crematorium.

18th Century Smoke & Mirrors.    

The priests kept chopping rhythmically at the flaming plantain tree.

Soon a slaughtered chicken lying amidst the embers rose flapping wildly over them, its featherless burning wings.

OTTAAL, our Kayamkulam spy,  had  insinuated himself between the twelfth and the thirteenth Occultist Brahmins - who, due to their venality, came ostracized from Palakkad. 

 

Ottaal started furiously scribbling down every heinous adharva mantra curse chanted against his own Kayamkulam king. Little did the spy realize that the entire performance was meant to divert attention from a crucial state secret  ... the building of the secret weapon - CHUNDAN.

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Long back (287 years to be exact)

Before CAD Graphics, Battle Simulations and Power Point Presentations were in vogue,

poet Kunjan Nambiar used his body language and histrionic skills in Ottam Thullal - a performance art he had designed, to demonstrate in the royal presence what the contraption CHUNDAN was capable of!  

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RAMMING !!!!

novel extracts (mal)   

chundan

novel extracts (eng)

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KAYAMKULAM SWORD

 

While discussing the famed weapon of war - Chundan, we have also here a legendary weapon that shares screen-space with it.

That is the Kayamkulam Vaal (sword).

A blade double-edged like the Roman, it is meant to hack left and right without a pause inbetween. The similarity ends there.

This Vaal can also be wielded like a conventional cutlass.

But what is intriguing about the Kayamkulam sword is that the blade flexes - though not as much as the most fearsome Urumi – the ultimate Kalarippayattu weapon. This feature of Kayamkulam sword is due to metallurgy/ forging process unknown today.

Developed about two thousand years ago in the basins of river Kaveri, it was brought to central Kerala during the Chera period (800 A.D.)