Sunday, November 14, 2010


Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1972, 108m, Malayalam

Poverty is a disease and in many parts of the world it has epidemic proportions. This powerful film is set in such a milieu. Things become all the more unbearable if you are severed from your roots of family and village in such a pre-modern society. The middle class has the worst of all worlds because it doesn't know where it belongs.

Vishwam and Seetha elope from their village and we are introduced to them on a seemingly endless journey through the rural landscapes of the lush riverine state of Kerala. A few days of honeymooning in a humble but respectable motel ends their alloted quota of married bliss  and life begins it's agonising nose dive.Thet are educated and probably hope to make a living but this is not to be. The little money they have is running out and the wolf in many garbs is snarling. He can't publish a book he has written ahd loses his first job as a zoology lecturer. Many a ruffian eyes Seetha lasciviously and maintaining respectability on an empty pocket is as difficult as bodily survival. First the spirit breaks and then the body. And a baby's arrival makes the situation unbearably harrowing.

This is Adoor's first film but we catch glimpses of the mastery and restraint of his maturer work. But this is a slice of reality-scary, painful and bitter-in which we can see our own reflections. Both the leads (Madhu and Sarada) have given powerful performances well supported by the remaining cast. The social realism of the film reflects a point of view widely prevalent among the intelligentsia of the period.

This is a depressing, powerful and true film getting to the heart of the realities of the aam admi's lot, a treatment light years ahead of the caricatures and tomfoolery of Bollywood.


Nathanael Hood said...

Would you say that this film was inspired by Satyajit Ray or by European filmmakers, in particular the Italian Neo-Realists?

S. M. Rana said...

Well, this is definitely in line with the Italians like de Sica and the early Fellini. But Adoor's two other movies I've seen and reviewed and recommended to you more than this one are perhaps closer to Ray but closest to himself.