The amateur documentary filmmaker says he tried to make the best use of all the cameras available on the flight, which included ones at the tail, front and upper body of the plane. He avoided focusing on the ailing passenger, so as not to be intrusive, and instead tried to highlight unique aspects of the incident, such as the de-icing (removal of snow) of the plane before it took off from Keflavik International Airport. “The best part was that when we landed at JFK, the pilot announced that the passenger in Iceland was safe. A person’s life being saved was way too momentous for me, and the rest of us were only cheerful at the end of the tedious journey on being told this.”
Karackattu had gone to the US to deliver lectures at three universities and attend a screening of Guli’s Children — his documentary on the historic links between his native Kerala and China. For this maiden venture, the professor, whose areas of interest include Sino-Indian ties, carried out research for two years to trace the movement of people from Kerala to China in the 13th century. He is working on a second feature, Those 4 Years, to focus on the migration of the Chinese to southern India in the second half of the 19th century.
Upon his return, Karackattu was clear that he did not want the moments he had captured to be buried in the memory card of his phone. And the airline deserved a message of gratitude, he felt, more so in a climate of all-pervasive negativity. Besides, as even the teacher admits, visual documentation not only reaches a wider audience it also works better than long reading lists and lectures.