July 2022 / KUMMATTY

The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room Resource Guide for

KUMMATTY (dir. Aravindan Govindan, 1979)

Presented in The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room in July 2022
in partnership with 
Cineteca di Bologna, Film Heritage Foundation, and The Criterion Collection

Table of Contents

1) Film Description 

2) Special Features

-Ramu Aravindan Interview

-Shivendra Singh Dungarpur Interview

-Before/After Restoration Demo

-Image Gallery

3) EXPLORE Page Materials

-Online Texts and Videos About Aravindan Govindan

-Information About the Film Heritage Foundation

-Filmmaking Contemporaries of Aravindan Govindan

4) Live Screening Commentary Script

KUMMATTY is an adaptation of a Central Kerala folk-tale featuring a partly mythic and partly real magician called Kummatty (played by the famous musician and dancer Ramunni in his screen debut), who comes to entertain a group of village children with dancing, singing and magic tricks. In one such game, he changes the children into animals. One boy, changed into a dog, is chased away and misses the moment when the magician breaks the spell restoring the children to their human form. The dog-boy has to wait until Kummatty returns. Shot in a scenic village in the northern Malabar region of Kerala, KUMMATTY was Aravindan Govindan’s personal favorite of his own films and among Indian film critics, it is unanimously considered a masterpiece.

Restored in 4K using the best surviving element: a vintage 35mm print struck from the original camera negative and preserved at the National Film Archive of India. A second 35mm print with English subtitles was used as a reference. Color grading was supervised by the film’s cinematographer Shaji N. Karun. Special thanks to Ramu Aravindan.

Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Film Heritage Foundation, and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with General Pictures and the family of Aravindan Govindan. Funding provided by the Material World Foundation.

Ramu Aravindan Interview

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur Interview

Before/After Restoration Demo

Image Gallery


Online Texts and Videos About Aravindan Govindan

G. Aravindan: The Malayalam Film Maker. A collection of articles and videos about the work of Aravindan, available thanks to Sahapedia.

A Dream Takes Wings: G. Aravindan, a documentary about Aranvindan directed by Shaji N.Karun on YouTube.

Interview with Indian filmmaker G. Aravindan about documentary film, conducted by Thomas Waugh (1988) on YouTube.

Aravindan Govindan filmography on Letterboxd


Information About the Film Heritage Foundation


Projects and Events

Video of the Film Preservation and Restoration School India, 2015

Filmmaking Contemporaries of Aravindan Govindan

Mani Kaul (Bombay)
"Parables of Perception: Three Films By Mani Kaul" on The Criterion Current.

Kumar Shahani (Bombay)
Kumar Shahani: The Shock of Desire and Other Essays. Available from Columbia University Press.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan (Kerala)
Learn more about the Adoor Gopalakrishnan Archive and Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Aparna Sen (Bengal)
Aparna Sen is still making films and is on Twitter.

Shyam Benegal (Bombay)
An overview of the career of Shyam Benegal from Cinemaazi.
Shyam Benegal speaks about the importance of The Film Heritage Foundation.

Ketan Mehta (Bombay/Gujarat)
An interview with Ketan Mehta in Times of India.


KUMMATTY - Live Screening Commentary Script


Welcome to The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room! Tonight we’re screening the restoration of Aravindan Govindan’s KUMMATTY (1979).

You can stay with us here in the chat to learn more about the film as you watch or you can view the film full screen on-demand at 7pm. 

In this chat mode the screening is live and picture controls (rewind/fast forward/pause) will not be available. If you miss anything or need to take a break, that functionality is available when watching on-demand.

Thanks for being here and we encourage you to share your thoughts on the movie as we go, making this a communal virtual viewing experience!


00:00:00 – 00:20:00

Before becoming a filmmaker, Aravindan Govindan, the director of KUMMATTY, got a degree in botany and became an established cartoonist. Here is a self-portrait he drew of himself.

Self-Portrait of Aravindan Govindan

To learn more about Aravindan’s filmmaking journey, watch our video interview with his son Ramu, available on this page.

 The restoration of KUMMATTY was a challenge because no usable camera negative of the film could be found. Thankfully, Aravindan’s son Ramu had photographs of the shooting locations which ended up being crucial to the work the colorist did.

 You can see some of the location photography in our Image Gallery, available on this page.


00:20:00 – 00:30:00

The Film Heritage Foundation, headed by filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, was the driving force behind the restoration of KUMMATTY.  The FHF is a non-profit organization, based in Mumbai, India, dedicated to film preservation, restoration and archiving of India’s film heritage. They lead film restoration projects and also hold film restoration workshops.

To learn more about the work the Film Heritage Foundation is doing, and their journey restoring KUMMATTY, be sure to watch our video interview with Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, available on this page.


00:30:00 – 00:40:00

Aravindan was one of the pioneers of parallel cinema in Malayalam, a language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala where he was from. Parallel cinema came about in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema.

To learn more about Aravindan and his filmmaking contemporaries, including Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aparna Sen and more, visit the “Filmmaking Contemporaries of Aravindan Govindan” section on this page.


 00:50:00 – 01:00:00

Aravindan worked with cinematographer Shaji Neelakantan Karun on nearly all of his films, with KUMMATTY being their second collaboration after 1978’s THAMP.

Aravindan and Karun also collaborated on Karun’s own films, with Aravindan composing the music for his Camera d’Or winning film “Piravi” (1989).


01:00:00 – 01:10:00

The producer of KUMMATTY— K. Ravindranathan Nair , also known as Ravi—was primarily a cashew exporter and he gave the directors he worked with, including Aravindan, total creative control on their projects. He was known as “the gentleman producer.”


01:10:00 – 01:20:00

Sunny Joseph, who worked with Aravindan on his later films, wrote about what he learned from working with him:

“He, through his life and creations, showed me the interconnectedness of all things. He showed me the interconnectedness of an individual to another, and an individual to nature. By observing his life, I too learned how to be compassionate and loving towards fellow human beings. His cinema also taught me to be big-hearted towards men with tiny hearts.”

You can read more about Joseph’s experience working with Aravindan in the article linked to below:



01:20:00 – 01:30:00

When asked about Kummatty the character, Aravindan had this to say: 

"'Kummatty' arrives like the seasons. He represents spring. He comes in fact in spring when the rain is over and the plants are green and in bloom. He is part of that nature."


01:30:00 – end

Thank you so much for joining us for KUMMATTY.

KUMMATTY was restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Film Heritage Foundation, and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with General Pictures and the family of Aravindan Govindan. Funding provided by the Material World Foundation.

Special thanks to Janus Films and the Criterion Collection for support of this presentation.

We look forward to seeing you next month, on Monday, August 8th, for our double-feature of THE CHASE and DETOUR (1945, d. Edgar G. Ulmer).