Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Early Malayalam Movie Watch.



      Multi lingual Indian Cinema with its regional  ramifications, was not fairly open to all sections of Indians until the emergence of the electronic age. Films in various  Indian languages had their local restrictions till television began to occupy Indian homes.During the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, other language films used to be occasionally screened in some theatres located in selective urban areas in Tamil Nadu.The town where I was born and brought up, had a couple of theatres screening Hindi, English and Malayalam films, once a way. This is how I had the chance to watch films of other languages, particularly, those in Malayalam. Chemmeen was the first Malayalam movie I saw. It was a beautiful love story, with  the taboo theme of a married woman from a fisherman family, crossing the line of marital bond to realize the fruits of her premarital romance. The movie also emphasized the validity of the belief, that the fisherman husband betrayed by his wife would fall a prey to the shark in the sea.
    Thematic content, aesthetic component,tragic intensity, musical magnificence and poignant presentation in its totality, made the film an instant success, drawing powerful reviews, making it rightly eligible to draw a national award. Sathyan, the fisherman husband, Sheela the unfortunate woman caught in an enforced marriage against her love interest and Madhu the pathetic man in love, all became  helpless victims of tragic circumstances with their grandiose performance taking the movie to its epic status. Ramu Kariat, who directed the film based on Thagazhi Sivasankaran Pillai’s popular novel bearing the same title, proved to be an invaluable asset to the Malayalam film industry.
     The next film that I chanced to see was A.Vincent's Thulaabaaram, a left-oriented story celebrating the glory of selfless and dedicated trade unionism.The battle between self - centred  capitalist forces and the unrelenting watchdogs of socialism, was sharply focused and neatly told in an undeviating realistic perspective. Prem Nazir, the steadfast trade union leader and Saradha his hapless wife who married him, suppressing the pangs of untold love for another man before marriage, became immortal characters of a classic celluloid experience. The colossal  tragic undercurrents springing from the gruesome murder of the hero, leading to a suicide attempt by his wife after killing her kids, became the heartrending highlights of the movie,getting Saratha, the national best actor award on expected lines.No wonder that a grand film of this kind, was remade into Tamil with the same title with A.V.M.Rajan and Saratha playing the lead roles. The Tamil version was received with equal acclaim and audience support.
    This was followed by K.S.Sethumadhavan's Punar Jenmam starring Nazir and Jeyabarathi. A film based on a delicate theme of mother obsession in a grown up son, [ which is psychologically termed as Oedipus Complex] and its resultant impact on his married life, became the subject matter of the film. Certified for adult watch, the movie became an additional feather to  the ever creative and talent hungry Malayalam film makers.Owing to the significance of its sensational story line, the film was remade into Tamil as Marupiravi,starring Muthuraman and Manjula and the Tamil version also cast an indelible impression on the audience. The script for Punar Jenmam was penned by the well known psychiatrist A.T.Kovoor.
     K.S.Sethumadhavan's Chattakkaari, a romantic film narrating the plight of an Anglo Indian family was the other movie that I happened to see. Lakshmi who played the Anglo Indian girl falling in love with a Hindu guy and suffered the stigma of an unwed pregnancy, drew the sympathy and admiration of many, for her laudable performance.This film was later produced in Hindi as Julie and impressed the Hindi film watchers too.The memories of this film seem to be so vitally working on the imagination of the film makers that this film has been recently remade in Malayalam with the same title, by Santhosh Sethumadhavan,the inspired son of  the maker of the original version.Later, I saw Kanyakumari of Kamalahasan, that focused on the budding talents of the prospective world class actor. Incidentally, this too happened to be a product from the classic brain of [ Late ]K.S.Sethumadhavan.
    The other films that came in the line of  my movie minutes were Fazil’s Magnil Virigna Pookal starring Mohanlal, [his first film] Shankar and Poornima Jeyaram and Balu Mahendra's Olangal with Amol Paulekher and Poornima Jeyaram .After these, Barathan's two films Kattathe Kilikkodu, a fascinating film speaking about the self obsessed vagaries and possessive attitude of a young girl spoiling the peace and happiness of a professor’s family,composed like a bird’s nest and Vaisali,a mythical extravaganza, released during the Nineteen Eighties, were the other fascinating films that formed part of my early Malayalam movie watch.Two films that I watched in Kerala were,Aatakkalasam of Nazir and Mohanlal at a theatre in Koratti and Tharaavu with Madhu as protagonist, at the temple town of Guruvayur. These limited number of films were just a spec of the galaxy of the amazing Malayalam movie world, to which I  got introduced, just before and at the dawn of the Television Age.
    My theatre trips to watch Malayalam films could not be extended due to local restrictions and theatres not going forward to screen other language films in the Municipal towns in Tamil Nadu. Thanks to the arrival of television at one’s door step, one was at liberty to choose and watch other language films by a click of the remote control. However, the enchanting theatre watch of Malayalam films particularly of those, known for creative exuberance and aesthetic excellence, held one’s imagination at its zenith.Lack of speed in narration and inadequacy of entertainment quotient did not prevent those films from getting their due accord and recognition from the audience. 
     I cherish those great moments, generating from the experience of  watching some of the best Malayalam films of those days, not influenced by the extraneous influence of incredible action segment and melodrama that  subsequently went on uprooting a richly qualitative film industry of the God’s own country, from its ideal and distinct base of exceptional standards. Those days,the uniqueness of the  Malayalam movie field was mostly identified by its constant focus on the principles of existentialism,stoicism,fatalism and stark realism.Prospective articles of this blog, will discuss the current status of the Malayalam film world with relevant inclusion of men and matters influencing profusely a classic creative foundation. 

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