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Thaalam Rhythm of the Nation A. R. Rahman

Everyman’s race

Fishermen. Farmers. Postmen. Shopkeepers. School Teachers. 150 men from all walks of life come together at the Chundan Vallam races in Kerala. Not a single one of them is a professional athlete. Yet they find their rhythm and row as one… Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum. To the steady beat of a wooden pole. To the hypnotic chants of thai thai thaka, thai thai thom. They slice the calm waters in easy, practiced harmony. Like the countless legs of a centipede, they glide, they flow, they charge like an armed brigade.

God’s own pride

Held every autumn around Onam, a harvest festival, the energy at the Chundan Vallam or snake boat races is electric. The needle-sharp focus of the boatmen, the drums, the boat songs, the wild cries of the onlookers… It has a spirit all its own. A spirit that no regatta, no Olympics, no sporting event anywhere in the world can ever hope to match. And it takes months of preparation, years of practice, and centuries of traditions to make it so.

Thaalam divine

Master craftsmen take up to nine months to make a single 140-feet-long snake boat! Even the way they drive the nails into the planks follows a simple, unique rhythm.

Villages planted on thousands of islands on the backwaters of Kerala cheer and compete with equal fervour, equal zeal. Every run on the river has over 2,000 men — ordinary men, extraordinary oarsmen — paddling hard, paddling together. All for a race that ends in less than 5 thrilling, long minutes.

How do they do it? How do they find their rhythm? Can we find our rhythm too as a nation? Can we find our thaalam? Can we imagine India on a boat…


Created By:
Director & Cinematographer:
Sudeep Elamon
Music Composer and Singer:
Lyric writer:
Syamaprakash & Varkey
Christy Sebastian
Additional Cinematography:
Anirudh Ganapathy
Niyantha Shekar
Production Executive:
A. Kabeer
Abhijeet Deolekar
Post Production:
Open Mind
Production House:
Bharatbala Productions
For Studio Virtual Bharat
Mrinnalini Mitra
Lynette D’mello
Sayan Debnath
Shruti Mishra
Anshuman Shekhar
Akshay Parvatka
Yash Khaire
Prakash Bamne
Kannan Rajaram
A. Murugesan
Ghanshyam Patil
Project Virtual Bharat:
Hari Krishnan
Abhijeet Deolekar
Jawahar Sharma
Special Thanks:
A.R. Rahman
Punnamadada Boat Club
Friends Boat Club
Baby Chettan
IC Chacko
Goutham Soorya
Produced By Studio Virtual Bharat

Behind The Scenes