The onscreen Homosexuality taboo in Malayalam Cinema

Got your eyebrows up, didn’t I?

Homosexuality depiction in Malayalam Cinema Its remarkable how a book can send you on a journey to a place you have never traveled before. I was reading through VT Nanda Kumar‘s Randu Penkuttikal, first published in 1974, (which was to the best of my knowledge,  the source material for  the first onscreen adaptation and depiction of lesbianism in  Malayalam cinema) and suddenly there were these whole lot of questions. Our Malayalam movies have depicted, illustrated, portrayed, sketched and at times hastily, displayed infidelity, strife, violence, sibling rivalry, murder, crime, and even gone to the lengths of even psycho analysis and representations, but we never, ever have had the temerity nor the tenacity to discuss the ‘third gender‘ onscreen. Except, of course, for the pathetically few that you can count on your hand.

80-odd years of film making that have reflected and entertained us with topics that have been picked out from every possible nook and corner of the Malayali’s psyche and social systems, and oddly, homosexuality has hardly been featured in any of them. I wonder why.

And the ones that have been portrayed, well, they are all between women, which also gives rise to a bunch of related questions. Why are we so pathologically apprehensive ( scared?) of  Homosexuality ? Going by the beaten-to-death premise of “films are a reflection of society”, its interesting to see us Malayalis looking for a place to hide or a direction to turn away when it comes to discussing Homosexuality. [ There is a beautiful,  enlightening, insightful note on our attitude towards what we perceive as deviant behavior – Same-sex relationships, transexuals, effeminate males that still runs through the Malayali psyche, and you can read it here.  ]

Randu Penkuttikal - VT Nanda KumarI have had an enlightening week, speaking to a lot of learned minds, being witness to some hard-hitting and well-laid out arguments and perspectives, which more or less substantiates what I too have believed all along. Our movie directors ( lets start from established ), who are a direct extension and a part of our society, and in the business of creating a product of art that sells, are mortally terrified of using this theme to spin their onscreen narratives, for the same reason we carefully avoid discussing or conversing about this amongst ourselves. But this apathy and aversion is discussing it amongst ourselves does not prevent us or hold us back from strongly reacting against incremental ‘events’ that at anytime threaten to intrude our ‘normalcy’.

From a 26 June 2009 Express Buzz article , there is a quote by  Deepa, a Keralite lesbian activist, who states that sexual minorities “are so harassed that they are forced to leave Kerala for other states”. She also speaks about “a conspiracy of silence about sexual minorities in Kerala and people pretended that gays, lesbians and transsexuals did not exist in the State”. So you might ask, why should it even be discussed  here in the first place ? Well, I would say, because its there, and it is as significant as the proverbial ‘elephant in the living room’ whom nobody wants to talk about, which would infuse a whole lot more tolerance, empathy, understanding and above all, a wider perspective of life that will enrich our lives in its own unknown ways.  Coming back to Malayalam Cinema, the movies that I think have dealt with the topic of  same-sex relationships, or have hastily outlined trends, and baled out of the narrative without a pause, have been Randu Penkuttikal (1978), Deshadanakkili Karayaarilla ( 1986) and Sanchaaram (2004). There was a ‘passing’ characterisation in Rithu (2009) and  a ‘ hasty’ portrayal in Sufi Paranja Katha  (2010).

Randu Penkuttikal (1978)

Anupama Mohan - Danseuse

Director Mohan, in a recent interview confesses that he has never read the novel on which the film adaptation was based on, completely. He did manage to catch the first three or four parts of it in serialised version in a magazine and that was it. I wish there was a legal copy of the film available. The movie spoke about the deep, passionate love between two girls, Kokila ( Shobha ) and Girija ( Anupama Mohanthe danseuse). The novel portrays it as mostly possessive relationship that Kokila, the senior girl inschool has for Girija, her ‘drop-dead gorgeous’  junior,  and who is also enamored by this constant ( almost suffocating) affection that comes her way, the former showering her with gifts and also makes it clear in very clear term terms as to what their nature of relationship is and will be, going forward.  Girija is not so sure, and soon she falls head over hells for a handsome apprentice who takes charge in the local photo studio and gets into a physical relationship with her while his term lasts, and then disappears. She eventually gets married to her young teacher who had in the past proposed to her but was turned away in part by the rumor mills put in motion by a deeply possessive Girija.

The movie ends with the politically correct note of Girija at last seeing the light – that “this was all a phase in one’s teenage years and like any normal woman, she should be married and lead a happy, productive life” by the dashing young physician who is besotted by Girija and wants to marry her. So much for daring and cocking a snook at existing standards. After all the brouhaha, the end, is, shall we say, very very predictive.

Director Mohan speaks about the movie briefly.

Deshadanakkili Karayaarilla (1986)

Shari and Karthika in Deshadanakkili Karayaarilla (1986) One had to be either incredibly naive or seemingly callous to miss the signals and the strong undercurrent in the movie. Padmarajan had this uncanny  knack of laying ‘almost’ all of it out there, stopping just so short of saying it IS so, leaving you to draw your own conclusions. From what I have read through his works, he is far too relaxed and in his elements, creating emotional undercurrents at his own liberty and pace with words than with visuals. He has frequently explored various levels of bonding between two females in a couple of his works – be it between the sister-in-laws in Novemberinte Nashtam, the friendship between Tulsi and Parvathi in Kariyilakkaattu Poley or the one  between Shobha and Kalyanikkutty in Nakshathrangaley Kaaval.

To me, I guess, he gets a little more ‘careful’ and shall I say politically correct, when it comes to creating a visual project. I am sure you can pick up the references and nuances if you have read the novels and his subsequent screen adaptations.Suffice to say, the pivot of both the movies, Randu Penkuttikal and Deshadanakkili Karayarilla is the same ‘event’, one of them entering a heterosexual relationship post their fleeing out of their regimented life, throwing the more ‘possessive one’ into emotional hell. Well, you could emphatically point out that they are just two normal friends, obsessively possessive about each other and that’s that, but hey, this is what I read from the movie.  But the developments post this new emotional crossroads differentiates the two different paths the narratives take moving forward. While Randu Penkuttikal ends up with a timid, politically correct and tepid ending, Padmarajan cranks up the ‘helplessness and bitterness quotient’ a few notches high in the latter, hurtling the movie towards a tragic climax, a la Padmarajan. Again, the relationship doesn’t survive in the end.

Vanambadi etho from the movie, music by Raveendran Master.

Sanchaaram (2004)

Shrruiti Menon and Suhasini V Nair in Sancharram I missed this movie at the theaters (on second thoughts, did it have a theatrical release ?) and got to watch it on DVD recently. I really really wish I had caught this at the cinema. The DVD is horrendous ! ( More of that gripe later !) One aspect that literally glows through the movie, other than the dark, inky, lush theme is the brutal honesty and conviction of  narrating the story WITHOUT conforming to any social strictures. It is forthright, undisguised, blunt and in your face. And I loved that. The story is about  Deliliah (Shrruiti Menon) and Kiran (Suhasini V. Nair), and how their unbridled, deep, passionate love for each other, as they come of age, both being childhood friends.

Ligy J.Pullappally

Ligy J.Pullappally

As the manure hits the fan, mainly due to  wimpy ex-flame who finds both of them in a lip-lock, in the neighborhood wild, Deliliah’s wedding is hurriedly fixed – the easiest way to ‘re-validate’ her normalcy in the existing social setup, reclaim the family’s position in the ‘normal’ scheme of things, and post which, everyone can go back to their lives, as if nothing happened. interestingly, things are just about to get interesting at the altar ! Directed by  Ligy J. Pullappally, based on her early short-movie ‘ Uli‘, it has by now won the award for the Best Film at the 40th Chicago International Film Festival, Special Jury Prize at the Kerala State Film Awards, the Special Jury Prize from the John Abraham Foundation amongst others. I would go on to say that Sanchaaram (2004) could very well be the first mainstream feature film in Malayalam ( that I know of ) that makes homosexuality the crux, the focal point of the narrative. You can access an interview of Ligy J. Pullappally with Sarah Warren here. You can also access the movie website here.

Now, for the griping on the DVD.
It sucks bigtime!I mean, how on earth can someone master a digital copy off a movie released in 2004 to something so horrendously bad in terms of picture and sound ? I mean, I can understand if I was watching a crappy VCD version of a movie from the 50′s, but man, this takes the cake. The sound doesn’t rise above stereo and is patchy at places, the frames at times keep shifting ( yes !). I can go on and on, but this will suffice for now.

A clipping from the film.

Rithu (2009)

Ritu FilmFinally, finally, someone gathered up enough courage and weaved it into the persona of a lead protagonist in a mainstream Malayalam film! I would say this was a long time coming, and sad that it merely added a ‘fleeting layer’ to the character and disappeared. But, a brave attempt, I must say. True, the film maker just would have wanted this aspect to stay in the background and not affect the central set of events that drive the movie forward. But there is something very unsettling about the movie, with its overload of cliches on life in Bangalore, which I cannot subscribe to or identify with. Coming back to the aspect of ‘deviant’ behavior portrayed, I do wish, a la Hollywood, Syamaprasad, the director, would spin off the character Sunny Immatty as the lead protagonist of a movie that would all be about..ummm..his life. That would be fun. Maybe Joshua Newtonn could  do a sequel.

Watch the starting of the clipping. One of the few scenes in the movie that managed to hold your attention. The erotic undercurrent is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.

Sufi Paranja Katha  (2010).

Sufi Paranja Katha PosterI seemed to almost miss it the first time around, but Achinthya seems to have dragged it by the hair and thrust that in my face. Thanks Achinthya. :) Again, fleeting at best, but this time it is more on the lines of  sexual slavery that is depicted in the Gay relationship portrayed with oh-so-hurried-moments of screentime. Priyanandanan’s wracking  film adaptation based on KP Ramanunni‘s novel by the same name, the main protagonist of the movie, Prakash Bare as Mammootty,  in his emotional progression through the movie, seems to find solace in consensual (?) same-sex physical relationship with a young cousin of his Aamir, and in a ironic twist, is caught by his wife. Though this incident proves to be the catalyst that drives the narrative to its tragic climax, I just felt it was just a hurried device to facilitate a morbid conclusion to the movie.

As I mentioned earlier, maybe the short shots were all that may have been needed to drive the point home, but then again, these remain as depictions only, just a facet of the character that does not end up being the subject of a full-length, well thought out exploration – of their interactions and their ‘affectations’ on the immediate society they are a part of.

A Clipping from the movie. Keep watching from 11: 00

Would love to hear your views. Please do write in.

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30 thoughts on “The onscreen Homosexuality taboo in Malayalam Cinema

  1. Hi, it was an interesting read on homosexuality in Malayalam cinema, especially, on Randu Penkuttikal (1978) and Deshadanakkili Karayaarilla ( 1986). Its surprising to know that Malaylam Cinema was quite ahead of time compared to Bombay Cinema in dealing with various shades of human sexuality.

    • Thank you Anish, for sharing your thoughts. In terms of cultural analyses or even cultural tropes, we have always been equally good. And though our habit of “looking the other way” is very evident in this case ( as I have amply explained), it is much better than not acknowledging it at all. Of course, perceptions are gradually changing in “Bombay” cinema. Let them all bring out films taht make you think.Let it all grow :). Thanks, cinematters

  2. Could some please tell me if I can get a copy of the movie “Randu Penkuttikal” as CD/DVD or any other form?

    • Dear Manu,

      Your guess is as good as mine. You could keep an eye out of its VCD release through the popular Maebag.com or Myindiashopping.com, and also your local video seller. Will surely keep you posted.Thanks, cinematters

  3. The Two female characters were played in Rendu penkuttikal was played by Sobha and then Anupama ( who later married the director Mohan and now she is a renowned dancer ) and vidhubala played a guest role as college student . that is all . there is no jalaja in it . I read the novel it was good and intresting and bit bold but mohan handles it very maturly and it could be seen as afamily movie . Mohan was at that time was a great director. !

  4. DESHADANAKILI KARAYARILLA NEEDS MORE STUDY IN ITS CHARACTRISATION OF EVERY ONE BE IT THAT OF MOHANLAL,URVASHI, SHARI OR KARTHIKA..SHARI IS A LESBIAN IN THAT FILM

  5. Dear friends…I really appreciate the new trend in Malayalam Film industry, as some directors got the courage and boldness to reveal the real things happening in our society, in our world.if it comes to Sexuality Malayalam industry is always AFRIAD or shame to tell these types of SPECIAL stories in front of our society or region, there are lots of reason behind this I think, one thing is our old customs and traditions regarding sexual relations. second thing these people are afraid how the society will receive this type of films. did the viewers accept this or not even This is the real things happening in our society! The real thing is Sexuality is not a choice of anyone or illness that some people misunderstands! being gay or Lesbian is not that much problematic! but for Indian society or Kerala traditions it has been always a problem of Indian heritage, problem for the old Traditions and customs who thinks our Culture is based, Even in all the period of the ages..it exists, the same sex love and attraction. we can see the examples, artistic proud of India which portraits Lesbian and homosexual relations. one is Khajuraho Temples.

    So the First film that I felt about revealing a gay relation or act was Mr. Shyama prasads Rithu, which released on 2009, even it shows only the clue on one side. the old films I have seen is Deshadanakkili karayarilla. the Director indirectly tries to narrates the Lesbian attitude of two girl friends. then came Soofi paranja katha. in 2010, in it the role played by Prakash bare is sexually attracted to his your cousin and they do sex which find out by his wife finally. then now came the Film Mumbai police. the lead role played by Mr. Prithviraj, hear the situation is bit clear, hats off to Mr. Bobby and Mr. Sanjay to wrote a real life story of some parts of gay relations or gay life…even it didn’t disclose or appreciate anything widely the emotions or feeling the gay people are feeling in your society. in our society, not only in India, if we take the case of kerala “coming out” of a guy or a Girl regarding his or her Sexuality is really complicated, because we are afraid of our family culture customs and the traditions which we believes like a Written Order of Life!!! because I know well some guys even heard about some girls who are experienced in their life. As beeing gay someone forced to got married later to a girl and for the family and the society he got married and the life of the Innocence girl is in Vain, after the marriage the rest we can assume!!! and also lots of guys I know in Kerala got married to Girls and having secret relation ship between other guys around! and the lesbian section is also not that much different, the girl who got married to a guy, the problem started form the first night, as the marriage end up in Divorce!!!

    so if this is the things happening around us. and some Writers and Directors are trying their best to portraits, and the truth is this films were widely received by the audiences, some were hits and super hits. means the present generation accepts what is really happening around us and accept the truth! its a Good Start anyway, but the stories should come out and somebody should reveal the real things, the real emotions or problems that the gay or lesbian people having around in our society! as im settled and working abroad even I visits Kerala often I can see the Changes happening regarding this but we should accept the truth and have to think mature to accept ones sexuality and to let them leave their life in a peaceful way! Thanks all!

  6. Hi there.I stumbled upon your blog while trying to do some research on the sexual psychology of keralites. nothing academic just curious. Of late I am becoming aware of a great divide in our perception of gender equality and in the actualI societal reality. There is a bias even as we flaunt our statistical ‘evidence’ of women empowerment . Check out this paper I came across.

    http://www.india-seminar.com/2012/637/637_m_sarita_varma.htm

    I am an aspiring film maker myself and have been of late in an effort to try and comprehend my culture.As much awesomeness there is in our kerala societies there seems to be as many things that are warped and contorted. I found your post of incredible value and importance. I’ll sure be checking out more of the posts and even the youtube videos. Great work. thanks.

    • Hi Alok,

      Apologies for this delayed response, and hope you found your time spent here worthwhile.The subject that you have chosen as your subject of research could possibly be one of the most fundamental aspects of our society in general that none has ever thought of speaking about loudly. The same shared sentiments of this “looking the other way” principle is present in various degrees, with its strong underlying current of sexual “immaturity”, if I may call it so, in varying degress across most of our social operative points of interaction. Look forward to your study and your forthcoming intepretations on film. Thanks so much, cinematters.

  7. This proves that there is so many more great posts here that I haven’t seen yet!
    Homosexuality is definitely one of the “taboo” subjects which people find difficult to talk about anywhere around the world, but more so in Kerala and India. It is quite ubiquitous, but no one acknowledges that fact. This is why I was really surprised by that scene in Sufi Paranja Kadha, that the makers had the courage to even touch on the subject.. I have not seen the other two movies. Thanks for the article and the clips, cinematters.

    • I guess with the latest box-office success story ( a crime thriller) with one of the popular actors have in a way broken “most of the ice” in depicting homosexuality onscreen, and one hopes more will follow. Thanks Susie, cinematters

  8. This ia great read, cinematters, and you’ve pre-empted a critical article that I was (am) planning to write some day soon about Randu P, Deshadhana…, and Sancharram as comrpising a revealing trio of films based on women’s same-sex love in Malayalam cinema. What’s interesting about the films is of course the insight they provide into the pressures of circumlocution that the director (and team) felt in the making of each film. These pressures tell us something about that lack of visibility that has historically bedevilled any real, convincing portrayal of homoerotic love on Indian cinema where one can also feel that the film is about the ethical choices made by the characters and where the representation of lesbian desire does not titillate or demonize.

    I just wanted to chime in on the general well-dones you’ve been receiving and to add that, indeed, a legal copy of RP is not available, but I am going to try and talk to Anupama Mohan and Mohan later this year to find out whether they can loan me a copy of their own (which I hope they have!) that allows me to work on the film. My personal favourite in this whole lot is the Padmarajan film whose beauty lies in its fragility and its own inability to imagine then for the young kilikkal (birds) a future independent of unequal social mores. As always, Padmarajan leaves much unsaid, and although at its best, Pulapally’s film is very affecting, I still gravitate towards the tragic tone in Deshadhanakkili… Again, worth thinking why lesbian desire is so intrinsically tied to the tragic – a comedy about women’s same-sex love might be the ultimate sign of women’s lib: who knows – someday!!

    • Thank you Anupama, glad you could find resonance in what you read. The “pressures of circumlocution” that you have so aptly described is exactly what almost made me chuckle through RP and to an extent DK.I mean, 80 years of film-making in our language, and when it comes to homo-erotic stories onscreen, we are mortally scared :)But things are taking a refreshing turn, so to speak, going by the raving reception a recently released crime thriller with a delicious secret up its sleeve in the end has been getting at the box-office and that is great. ( witholding the title to avoid possible spoilers :) ) With regard to Mohan or Anupama Mohan having a copy of RP, I have my doubts, as I recall Mohan mentioning his inability of getting to watch the movie once again since its release. Padmarajan was a master when it came to depicting fragility and vulnerability, and he did it with minimal text :) Deshadanakilikal Karayarilla is fraught with this overwhelming and excruciating helplessness at the end ( you can literally sense the fabric of their lives coming apart towards the end ) and I guess that is why it still remains a favorite.

      PS : Would really love to read your thoughts on this “trinity” whenever you decide to put it down in words, and please consider this as an open invitation if ever you are looking for an additional avenue to publish it. Thanks once again, cinematters

  9. I think Pradeep has struck a vital point in that if a director is able to bring an emotional component to portraying the relationship, it would do justice to these relationships which society so often treats as ‘perversion’. It is in this regard that Padmarajan’s ‘Deshadanakkilli karayarilla’ was different- it addressed the underlying emotional component. I think understanding and awareness of homosexuality is still very poor and this perhaps comes in the way of treating it on a holistic note while making a movie based on such a theme.
    Brilliant write-up and interesting perspectives…
    Vidya

    • Hi Vidya,
      A doctoral pursuit in psychology adds a whole lot of perspective in watching Malayalam films :) Lets face it, uttering the H-word is still a reason to cringe or a chance to discover a previously-ignored crack on the floor for the average Malayali, though there is a gradual change of inclusiveness growing. But till we accept it in its wholesomeness, we will still have to live with these random and sporadic “attempts” at onscreen narratives that mostly start bravely and take a huge step sideways when it comes to the Moment of Truth in the end/climax. Thanks, cinematters

  10. Hi….

    This article really caught my attention as I felt like I could relate to it. As a Malayalee lesbian, feminist and avid movie buff, it has always boggled my mind how our cinema, when so open and true in most other aspects, seem to completely shut off when it comes to this central aspect of human emotion.

    In deed the few people I have spoken to (with respect to this) think that this is hardly anyone’s business but our own, yet they seem to enjoy the never-ending stream of sub standard heterosexual relationships portrayed in cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I can also appreciate well thought out nuances of passion and longing between opposite sexes (like, the relationships in ‘Perumazhakaalam’, etc..,).

    The other movies that have touched upon these themes have done so, in a very negative light or as a comical representation (effeminate males in ‘Chandupottu’, ‘Millineum Stars’ etc…)

    But I have always wondered why there is almost no depiction of homosexual relationships in Malayalam cinema and we have to resort to international flicks to see any similar portrayal. Probably one of the worst comments I’ve heard about homosexual flicks is that ‘they are all hard porn’ which is completely baseless, untrue and hurtful.

    I have seen ‘The Journey’ and was completely captured by the lead characters, who are caught in their own web of secrets, lies, untold passion, and social constraints and limitations. I could also really empathize with Delilah as I come from a similar family structure (although, my personality is more on par with Kiran’s)

    I think the only way forward for a free society and also to reduce the orders of magnitude of hate and ‘fear’ towards the homosexual community is via social ‘positive’ representations of the same through movies, documentaries, televised productions etc. This should be done soon because we exist, we’re queer and we’re here to stay.

    • Hi Nimisha,
      Thank you for taking your time out to leave your thoughts on the post. Appreciate your insights.As I mentioned, concurring with what Deepa has so correctly surmised, it is this “willful conspiracy of silence” that feebly tries to keep all this under the carpet. I think the attitude is gradually changing, ‘opening up’ so to speak, with the increasing ( tiny, but yes, it is there) number of depictions, however fleeting they might be of ‘other sexual relations’ in Malayalam cinema in the last 5 years. I guess, that, in itself is a clear indicator.Depictions in Chandupottu and Millennium Stars somehow tend to make pithy caricatures than real characterisations, and though Dileep was commendable in the former, the narrative ran screaming back to Deliverence by Testosterone at the end :D As you truly pointed out, it is here, it has always been here, so why not discuss it onscreen, just like any other issue ? Thanks so much again..regards..cinematters

  11. Interesting write-up!
    And I always thought that Malayalam cinema was much more open and liberal, particularly on the topic of sexuality. I don’t understand Malayalam, but I used to watch them when the used to be shown on Sunday afternoons on DD. And I still have the impression that Kerala fares much better on issues of sexuality than let us say northern states.
    I saw the last clip. Very moving!

    • Hi Harveypam,
      Thank you for passing through and writing in. Glad the post was engaging and interesting for you. Make no mistake about the ways in which heterosexual relationships have been explored in Malayalam cinema. It is a veritable goldmine. The studied silence is with regard to homosexuality being discussed in themes onscreen. I guess its a direct reflection of the real world.And I also feel terrible when I get to hear about cineastes unable to grasp the nuances of Malayalam cinema, chiefly due to the unavailability of subtitled movies of Malayalam in the market. The ones with subtitles make you wish you were dead. ..regards..cinematters

  12. Hi

    I remember watching Randu Penkuttikal when I was in my teens
    and frankly much of it went over my head. What I remember
    is a Jayachandran song NJAYARUM THINKALUM POOTHIRANGUM.

    It must have been a bold attempt then but from what I could
    figure out, the story was told in an esoteric manner

    I am not too sure whether the movie mady any waves in the
    box office either.

    Rgds
    Anil

    • Hi Anil,
      Wow..Atleast you remember some of it. I guess the esoteric element was maybe in part due to the fact that it was a unique behavior subset, something not quite discussed in the open in a social system that we grew up being the subject of popular mainstream cinema. The movie was ‘culturally ostracized :) ‘ in terms of its box-office performance, according to B Vijay Kumar. He says “On the day I got to watch the movie, on its second day, there were around a dozen people in the audience.Suffice to say, it died a quick death”. regards..cinematters

  13. Beautifully written….thnx.. btw, I had the good fortune of watching Sancharam in a theatre… must have been a premier or at a film fest, it was at Kala Bhavan, and I remember being damned impressed by the movie and applauding the brave choice of the premise. The title of the movie had evaded me all these years, thanx for the reminder, I too want to watch it again…

    • You must have been one of the lucky ones to have watched it in the cinema, Chechi ! :) The DVD is available, maybe I got scammed being one of the early birds, but I guess I will order another copy and check. The DVD at Amazon. Glad you liked it. Regards..cinematters

  14. cinematters, Randu Penkuttikal with Jalaja and Radhika Mohan? I seem to remember it as being Jalaja and Anupama Mohan. And wasn’t Shobha (the one who committed suicide) and Vidhubala there too? Of course I saw it at an age where I probably should *not* have been allowed to watch it. :)

    And it’s interesting that you should have posted about this – because I was telling my husband about the film only recently. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a DVD but obviously, it hasn’t been released on DVD yet, right?

    Rithu was one film I couldn’t bear to watch fully – it was so stilted in its conversation that I think after the first half an hour or so of valiantly trying to *like* something, I gave up completely. I liked Sancharam. Caught it on a Netflix DVD and that didn’t have the problems you mentioned. (I’m glad!) My only problem with Sancharam was the computer generated butterfly in the last scene – and the last scene itself. I know it was symbolic and all that, but when she went up there to commit suicide, did she carry a pair of scissors with her, so she could cut her hair instead? That was ridiculous! But I loved the film itself. I have Sufi Paranja Katha at home; I have yet to watch it, though.

    Thanks for the write-up. And if you ever spot a DVD of Randu Penkuttikal, please let out a shout! That’ll be on the top of my list of DVD purchases.

    • OMDSJ!!! How could I write Radhika?Just corrected it. Thanks again. She is also right there in that video with Mohan ( has to be :) ). Its so long ago that i don’t even recall Vidhubala and Shobha.Will confirm and let you know. I don’t even think a copy of that movie exists with the producers..private collectors, maybe. DVD? You must be joking :D I truly truly agree with the ‘stilted part’, yet, the attempt was a brave one, if you get my drift. I am deeply envious on the Sancharram DVD that you have.deeply. Wearily, I have, yet again, now that you mentioned it) asked a buddy to get it through Netflix.It is unavbl in India ( Netflix, that is ). Sancharam has its ‘raised-eyebrow’ moments, I know. :) (Chuckling here at your Butterfly ). Thanks again..regards..cinematters

      • Was talking to my brother in Trivandrum this evening; The ‘Randu Penkuttikal’ were Shobha and Anupama. Jalaja and Vidhubala had supporting roles as their classmates.

        And I forgot to mention that I absolutely *loved* Desadanakkili Karyarilla, though it’s ending was tragic. Shari was a fantastic actress.

        • Hi Anu,
          Am in a bit of a bind here as B Vijaykumar, the eminent archivist of Malayalam cinema ( Vijayji ) informs that it was Jalaja who played the younger one in love. I, for one, have a hazy recollection of the movie, and had, as usual, turned to him for details. Will check with him again. Isn’t it amusing, that all movies that have broached this subject, always tend to head towards ‘physical destruction’ in its most pivotal situation? :) Thanks so much for this..Regards..cinematters

  15. In ‘Deshadanakkili Karayarilla’, there is an ambiguity, I thought, about the nature of their relationship which may also have been deliberate because of the discomfort or controversy such a thought may have created. It was pretty clear in ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’ but still fleeting and not in positive light (which by itself i snot wrong or anything but an observation). Along with the physical element of homosexuality, if a director is able to bring in the emotional element in it, only then can it convey love (instead of perversion as is suggested mostly).

    When the State has warped ideas about sexuality itself, how can homosexuality be acceptable? Rathi Nirvedam and Avalude Ravukal are still seen as porn-type movies that we wouldn’t want to be caught watching. Additionally, it would be difficult to convince producers and actors to contribute to a movie which has a risky and non-socially acceptable theme. Considering that even ‘Brokeback Mountain’ lost out to ‘Crash’ because the Oscars jury was largely conservative, expecting our audience to accept this will not happen so easily.

    Did write about homosexuality in India a couple of years back – http://epradeep98.blogspot.com/2008/10/being-gay-is-no-gay-matter.html

    • Dear Pradeep,
      That ambiguity by Padmarajan is precisely what I mentioned, in my opinion as his way of “of laying ‘almost’ all of it out there, stopping just so short of saying it IS so, leaving you to draw your own conclusions. ” It is also, in a way, ‘safe’, in many ways. Yes, there has to be an equal tenderness in capturing love, and not just the physicality of it, as you mentioned which elevates it to a different level.About Rathinirvedam and Avaludey Raavukal, I quite agree with what you said, and I firmly believe that coming-of-age stories are mostly met with amusement to the current generation who revels in information at his fingertips, literally. Rathinirvedam came at an age when our fantasies and our unformed visions fanned by raging hormones made us the perfect candidates to ‘experience’ it onscreen. In 2011, it is met with bemusement :) Thanks so much for your perspectives..regards..cinematters

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