The first tribal director to make ‘Karinthandan’ ever memorable

The first tribal director to make ‘Karinthandan’ ever memorable


Leela Santhosh, the first tribal director of Kerala, is coming out with a unique story of tribals who live inside the deep forests.

Actor Vinayakan is going to present the title character 'Karinthandan' in the movie. The director, Leela Santhosh belongs to the Paniya tribal community. "The story of the movie was shaped out of the real life stories told by forefathers," says Leela. She is trying to depict the real life of Karinthandan whose soul was fastened not by nails but by long iron chains. Karinthandan may be the face of tribal slavery, but Leela is reluctant to reveal more about the film.

She also likes to break some myths about tribals. “The outside world likes to mark all tribal communities with the word 'tribal'”, says Leela. “There are many communities and each community has many subdivisions,” Leela explains.

From a faceless tribal girl, Leela turned into a professional with dreams, after she arrived at the Kanavu, an alternative educational centre run by novelist K.J. Baby at Panamaram in Waynad district of Kerala. There many tribal kids have grown and bloomed with a wish to get into the mainstream of modern life.

Leela stepped into the world of cinema by working as an assistant for the film 'Guda'. From there, she learnt about scripts and frames. Then she did a documentary on tribal life. Soon, she tried another documentary 'Cheeru' which tells the story of unwed tribal mothers but this project was shelved due to financial constraints.

Leela has the full support of her husband Santhosh and three kids. Santhosh is a clay modeling teacher.