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Monday, October 24, 2005

OF LESSONS LEARNT AND LEARNING UNSAID..

Needed a cathartic dose of something sensational to knock me off the thankless task of agonizing over somethings and uncharacteristically flipped on the telly to watch “Padom Onnu Oru Vilapam” .( One Lesson, One Wail )

Now, my Malayalam ain’t that good but if I could sit through the masterly Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in its sweeping inane entirety and manage fifteen plus three minutes of Kill Ball ( Ed—On a full stomach, mind you !) , I figured this therapeutic village tale might just work wonders for a fevered brow and a beleaguered soul. I found out much later that this had indeed won some silverware .
Enough meandering, P.O.O.V is set in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district (Ed—So we begin the generalizations early this time !) and is penned by Aryadan Shaukat. This T.V Chandran-directed film centers around the travails of a young Muslim girl, played by Meera Jasmine in an National award-winning role. Her innocent delight in learning new subjects in Class 10 is rudely halted when she is forcibly married off to an already-married middle-aged man, who has some time before he returns to the Gulf. Her mother, herself a divorcee, watches haplessly as societal mores force the duo to submit to a conservative establishment. The husband finds his new bride unwilling to be a willing purveyor of his conjugal rights before being thwarted and frustrated, he commits marital rape after drugging her after which citing an unwillingness to consummate the marriage , he divorces her. She returns to her matriarchal home where her mother dies of shock and she discovers to her horror that she is pregnant. Ostracized, repelling the matrimonial advances of a doddering cleric, she delivers a baby who is last seen wailing along with other toddlers while their single mothers wash dirty linen by the river.

Stark and moving, Chandran eschews narrative flourishes and is content to let the story play itself out on screen. His use of time as a reference is nuanced and allows his protagonists space without appearing to buffet his cast with his pain. The on-screen time for his mostly female characters is just sort of conniving a Surekha-Sikri kind of role and he is perhaps at his best at showing the reticent ambivalence between Meera and the family that she reluctantly enters. I found the symbolism heavy with almost direct cuts to far more sinister interpretations down to the last scene, with the hungry well-wisher at the wedding and the veils that womenfolk wear being the more memorable ones. His portrayal of the parochial theological brigands struck a chord—the priest who enunciates a verse on encountering a problem is life-like and repulsive. The music was minimal, violin strains and the flute.

I don’t know, I thought it was a fairly simple role for Meera to essay and cannot comment on the scope of the role to get considered for an award of that magnitude. But I heard that the Big B won this for a scowl and a jowl and a badly-composed refrain for Agneepath, and Lil S won for his impersonations of an amorous, if undecided duck this year, so we let the matter rest.

So a poignant and distressing tale, and some way off the Jeeves Pick-Me Up I sought!
I liked it, no question there.

Sadiyon sadiyon wohi tamasha rasta rasta lambi khoj
Lekin jab woh mil jaata hai, kho jaata hai jaane kaun…..



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