‘Thabalkaran’, a short film on Coonoor’s famed D Sivan, is a tribute to a man who was willing to risk his life to deliver post

‘Thabalkaran’, a short film on Coonoor’s famed D Sivan, is a tribute to a man who was willing to risk his life to deliver post

The camera pans to show us the Nilgiri hills in all its glory: strapping trees that nod at the passing mist, tea leaves from plantations that quiver as winds sweep through them…then, it shows a pair of feet that walks briskly along a narrow forest path. They belong to a postman on duty. We then see a canvas bag slung across his chest — in it, are inked the words ‘D Sivan, Post Man’. Thabalkaran (Postman) a six-minute short film by Shola Films, is about the postman who shot to social media fame recently when news of his retirement came to light.

Known to have trekked dense forests, railway tracks, and dark tunnels to deliver post in tribal hamlets in Coonoor, Sivan, who is also the narrator in the film, gets a beautiful tribute in the form of Thabalkaran. The film, that was released last month, has been shot by Bengaluru-based Arjun Davis, Anand Rama Krishnan, and Arjun Krishna, who are also its directors. It has some stunning shots of the mountains, thanks to Balamurugan Kumar, who has handled the drone.Arjun Davis and team

“We shot the film in 2018,” says Arjun, who is into commercial photography. Arjun and team were shooting for another project, when they chanced upon Sivan at the Hillgrove post office in Coonoor. “Back then, we were not aware of who he really was; but we later read up newspaper articles on him, and decided to go back and shoot a documentary on him,” he explains, adding that they used the down-time to work on it further and release it.

The team spent five days with Sivan. “We used the first two days to get the story, and shot during the next three days,” says Arjun. The film has several shots of Sivan walking. Arjun says this is intentional since walking signifies an important aspect of Sivan’s job. “He’s been walking across treacherous terrain for almost a decade, we wanted to show that,” he adds. In one scene, Sivan is seen dangerously close to a gaur at an estate. “He was familiar with the animal,” recalls Arjun, adding that it was quite a task to shoot in the hilly terrain.

The most difficult part, however, were not the forests or the animals they might have encountered. It was keeping up with Sivan’s walking. “He walks so fast,” laughs Arjun. “We would set up our camera and wait, and he would shoot past us before we knew it. We would call out to him to wait for us.”