Thalasserry: Sister Jiya, a member of the Medical Sisters of St Joseph (MSJ) order in Kerala, has become the first nun in India to direct a feature film.
Cinema was not exactly Sr Jiya’s field of expertise. She never learnt the craft of filmmaking, didn’t plan to be associated with the industry or even bothered to spend much time watching films. Yet she is now the writer-director of a full-length Malayalam feature film.
‘Ente Vellithooval’, the two-and-a-half hour long film which is all set to hit the screens, stands proof of Sr Jiya’s immense dedication and relentless hard work for over a year. The nun, who hails from Palakkad, is the in-charge of the lab at St Sebastian’s Hospital in Cherupuzha, Kannur.
It all started when the Catholic Church observed 2015 as the Year for Consecrated Life. Sr Jiya wanted to make a short film on the people in the service of the church. She brushed up a story that she had written years ago and developed a screenplay with the help of some friends.
Sr Jiya got her work approved by her superiors in the church. Actress Sarayu was roped in to play the lead role of Sr Merina. The shoot started with the blessings of Archbishop George Njaralakatt of Thalassery.
‘Ente Vellithooval’ is not about church or faith but deals with the love for children. The film was made on a budget of around Rs 40 lakh. Sr Jiya raised the money with the help of family and friends, while the church also chipped in with a significant contribution towards the end to help her finish the project. She is unsure whether they will find enough theatres to release the film but, if not, she hopes to show the film through churches.
Sr Jiya, who likes writing poems and stories, said a lot of people had tried to dissuade and demotivate her throughout but she was determined to finish what she started. She says she learned a lot of new things and feels she is now ready to make another film.