A movie that made us foresee the crumbling of the Mullaperiyar dam predicted to fall in July 2020 by Nostradamus. Even the supreme Indian Parliament standing still in the name of a movie. Two states closed their borders and involving in a fight between each other. Thousands of volunteering protesters flowing into Mullaperiyar daily. Tamil Nadu Government is continuing the ban even after the Supreme court granted permission for the release. They also denied putting up of posters through movie organizations and asking whichever theatre that came forward to show the movie to pay the entire revenue as fine. They banned satellite rights of the film, which almost got to the final step of gaining the most prestigious Oscar and assigning hundreds of Cyber soldiers to tamper with the IMDB rating. Even the history of world cinema hasn’t witnessed such atrocious activities to sabotage a movie. The ban, which gets renewed every six months, got renewed last March 20 again.
This corona era’s holidays are offering a rebirth to the many movies that got sunk in our soul’s Dam. Released 9 years ago, a Hollywood movie, that created a wave of amusement, is brimming up our search engines again as it gears to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
9 main characters, 9 locations, 9 emotions, 9 songs. 9 diverse faces of lost love, National Award winners from 9 different film industries, story developing aligning with the positioning of 9 planets, filming of Ayurveda treatment methods in 9 ways of treatment, above all, a plot that cherished 9 tracts. These 9 are the virtues that made this movie outstanding.
Directed by Dr. Sohan Roy and released in 2011, DAM 999 has novelties numerous enough to fill a dam. Apart from gaining a reputed position among the Oscar-shortlisted movies, the movie’s script, also written by Sohan Roy, was placed in the Oscar Academy Library’s (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) permanent core collection.
In 2011, this movie’s release unleashed a “water bomb” of controversies. It was also an era when the news about central Kerala, which lies in the lap of Mullaperiyar dam, gave sleepless nights to the Malayalee community all around the world. When human lovers, who got a clear picture of the Dam’s hazardous security issues through the visualization of this movie, they resolved to go for a stringent rebellion. But, Tamil Nadu banned the movie’s release.
History is what enlightened the movie’s director on the fact that dams which give people with the boons of water and light, also has the power to put off their life’s light forever. In 1975, 2,50,000 people were mass murdered by Banqiao Dam in China. Wikipedia refers to it as the tallest among the 6 oldest dams across the globe and that it is 7 times taller than Banqiao Dam. These facts vividly explain the intensity of horror that was collecting in the Mullaperiyar dam along with water.
Just like emotions and consciousness make a man think, it urged Sohan Roy to sit and ponder. Afterward, he filmed the documentary named “Dams: The Lethal Water Bombs” and shared his concerns with society. The short film secured three awards from Los Angeles Movie Festival and Movie awards the very next year itself and continued to acquire about 23 international awards in the coming years.
When a twenty-one-minute movie was subject to acknowledgment, he realized the seamless opportunities a commercial film made on the same concept could receive. It urged him to make a movie on a larger canvas. In contrast to “Titanic” movie’s concept of coincidental disaster, a film which pictures human-made disaster can fulfil the actual goal of the art of movie-making- bringing awareness. With this thought in mind, he started conceptualizing it in him. The director spent the entire savings made through 16 years long hard work for this ten million budget debut film, without fathoming that he is stepping into a great disaster.
By the time “DAM 999” was ready for release, it had already received so many accolades. The movie has cast 16 national award winners, and became the first Indian movie to implement 2D to 3D “conversion technology.” The film was also simultaneously released in 5 world languages. It was shot aboard the largest ship in the world’s history, making it the first Indian film that had incorporated the water graphics technology. DAM999 was the first Indian movie produced in the Hollywood format. It was distributed by the world-famous production and distribution company “Warner Bros.” Banned in the state, even before its release, it became super hit, thanks to the controversies of actor created due to actor Thilakan and Mullaperiyar, etc. These exciting facts made the movie stand out, which comes to a total of nine specialties, including controversies and novelties during release time.
The film was also a “super-hit” in terms of the number of awards it had received. It was also shortlisted for Oscar and received five entries in three categories. Besides this, the movie got selected to compete in twelve categories for the very next year’s Golden Rooster Awards. Dam 999 is also the first Indian movie that to have obtained entry to this award, which is also popularly known as the “Chinese Oscar.”
In the year of 2013, the cinema received “Best Director” and “Best feature film” awards at the Cinerockholm International Film Festival; Three awards including “Special Jury Award,” “Best Movie of Festival” and “Best International Feature Film” from International Film Festival for Environment Health and Cultural Festival; “Best English Film Award” in Sangli film Festival, and more. The movie was also honored with the “Judge’s Favourite Award” at the “Antigua & Barbuda Film Festival” while the organizers honored Director Sohan Roy with a special award.
The movie got selected in about 130 film festivals including the internationally acclaimed Tehran Film Festival, Jaipur International Film Festival, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, America’s Chain NYC Festival, Louisville International Film Festival, Laughlin International Film Festival, Trinity International Film Festival, and Italy’s Salento International Film Festival. Alongside this, the film had also achieved California’s Global Music Award.
“Biz TV Network” based in UAE is the producer of “DAM 999”. Many National Award winners from different states have associated with the film’s crew. Ajay Vincent and music by Ouseppachan did the cinematography. Vinay Rai, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapur, Vimala Raman, Linda Arsenio, Joshua Frederick. The film introduced the latest technologies in sound recording and camera, which Indian cinema had never experienced before.
If there is a record for creating novelty lining a range of innovations, that award will also go to DAM 999. The film had created nine dimensions of aesthetic appreciation to gratify the aesthetic demands of nine different categories of film viewers.
The film imparts scientific facts about a disaster that dams can cause for those who have built up dams of anxiety in their minds, which includes concerns about Mullaperiyar. To music lovers, this movie is a musical entertainer, and it takes the family audience to a state of emotional “sethubandhanam.” For those who believe in India’s indigenous healing practices, they experienced it that way. At the same time, the lovers of astrology will take it as an astrological movie. Apart from that, it will be experienced by those who believe in India’s cultural diversities, as a movie that imparts the cultural traditions to the new generation. The panoramic beauty of various landscapes will enchant travellers because the film depicts multiple sea voyages and navigational characters. The ninth feature of the movie is the romantic experience it gives to both lovers as well as disappointed lovers. It will not be a wonder even if they experience it as a sole dedication to them as the fictional works through the nine emotions of love and despair.
These many reasons are enough to curb an average person’s curiosity about why there are so many “nines” in the title of DAM 999. Doesn’t it feel like the director has synchronized nine features in production, release, and appreciation into the title? But this is not the secret behind the “nines”… That is the twist!
Vishakham Thirunal Ramavarma, the ruler of the erstwhile Travancore princely state, had signed an agreement with the British for 999 years, known as “Periyar Paattakkarar” ( Periyar Lease Agreement). The British people were authorized to construct the Mullaperiyar Dam and to distribute the water of Periyar to Tamil Nadu via the Vaigai river for 999 years. This agreement came into force on 1886 October 29. The Achyuthamenon Government had renewed the agreement post-independence.
Nobody has any grievances in supplying water to Tamil Nadu. But isn’t it atrocious to argue that Kerala has no right to rebuild the Dam for 999 years? Will a Dam which starts to give away after about a hundred years stay secure for 999 years?
Was that 999 suffixed to “DAM” because the “999” is a more significant water bomb than the Dam itself?
Only the movie’s everything, its director, ostracized before years and who still wanders around without getting moksha knows it!