The movie hall where I watched Onnu Muthal Poojyam Varey (1986) – From One to Zero has now disappeared and in its place stands a shopping arcade. It was a beautiful movie that revolved around a young, widowed mother, her adorable little daughter and this unknown caller who befriends the child, and before she knows, is inextricably drawn into this relationship and realizes that the Voice has become an inseparable part of her life. It is also a depressing moniker of the progression of a story, from hope to hopelessness and perchance a faint ray on the horizon.
Produced by Navodaya, this little gem also was the debut of Asha Jayaram (as Aleena, the young mother), Geethu Mohandas ( as young Deepa ), the debut of G.Venugopal as a playback singer ( he was pretty famous those days on All India Radio), Mohan Sitara as a Music Director and Raghunath Paleri as a Director.
Aleena is a graphics designer, and her life post the sudden passing away of her husband (Prathap Pothen as Jose, a irreverent, wonderful and a popular Western Classical Music Teacher), is one of hopelessness and personal solitude. Her world revolves round her lil daughter and Elizabeth ( Shari) , friend and confidante – who adores Deepa and even sends across paintings every day to her.
And on a day like everyday, Deepa, bored as usual at home, terribly missing her father, randomly dials a number, and this time, there is some one on the other end, who actually wants to speaks to her , the pleasure evident from his voice. ( I wonder how it would have been in these times – an obvious pedophile-stalker-slasher movie? Mercifully, things were more humane back then I guess ) There is an obvious flash back on the happier times, the crazy husband and the whackier couple, so much in love, expecting their first born. And a wonderful moment as the hubby sulks crawling under the grandstand piano – I believe every family should have one, an official sulking corner.
Saddened by his sudden passing as a result of a coronary complication, her father-in-law, who is still around and a call away, keeps requesting her to find closure, get married again and move on.
She is alone, and she is scared of the future. And into this dreary life comes the Voice. The caller seems to know exactly who Deepa is, where she lives and everything about her mother ( He reveals that in the end). Probably this and Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), I guess, were the only two films in Malayalam, that centered around the unknown and exciting probabilities of the good old bakelite telephone – while this revolved around anonymity, the latter was a technical glitch, a cross-connection! Anyways, the calls keep coming in regularly, the Voice knows exactly when they are at home, and before she realises, she is also drawn to the playful, loving and caring ‘Uncle’ with whom lil’ Deepa carries her unending conversations.
Its as if she is at her sunshine happiest, speaking to the Voice. There is a delightful scene as both of start hearing the telephone start ringing inside the locked house, from the driveway, and as they rush, groceries flying, a key lost in the flowerbed, successful retrieval, and as they rush in, it falls silent.
X’mas comes around, their favorite time of the year, and as Deepa watches Santa Claus along with the carol revelers, she is surprised to find him sneaking up her way, and gives her a gift, a small piano.He also takes a photograph of her in the garden holding the gift. You know its the Voice who has sent it, and though furious at first, Aleena reads the letter attached along with, written with the love a father has for her daughter. Its a very poignant moment, as it suddenly dawns on her about this growing fondness to this anonymous person, who has now taken a ‘paternal’ dimension in Deepa’s life, and naturally, a possible relationship in her own.
Later, in her trip to the City hospital to hand over first drafts of an ad campaign for the hospital , she hears the Voice in the adjacent cubicle, and as she rushes around to check, he is already in the elevator and as she rushes down to the foyer, sees the car speeding away. Its three years now since Jose passed away. That Sunday, as they reach Jose’s tombstone to pray, Aleena is surprised, moved and touched to see a bouquet of red roses, already on the white and cold marble, kept there before their arrival.
This for me, seems the moment of truth, where Aleena decides to take her life forward, now helplessly in love with the Voice, looking forward for the familiar telephone bell jingle, along with her daughter. And in between all this bizarre events is the Doctor (Nedumudi Venu in a short and sweet role), who knows the identity of the Voice, befriends the family through a chance encounter and then comes to know of the whole chain of events that has turned the young lady’s life topsy turvy. Onnu Muthal Poojyam Varey is a beautiful premise, scary and sublime at the same time.You could add stupid too, but then hey, what is love without a little stupidity?
Its soon Deepa’s birthday, and she insists that he come for dinner, so that she can meet him at last, goaded on by Aleena, now helplessly in love with “Telephone Uncle“.He surprises them by saying it might be his last call, and he would not be able to meet them even though he wanted to. Shocked, angry and feeling more alone than ever, they regardless pay a visit to the neighborhood cake shop to order a cake made for her, and is surprised to find one ready with her name and a note attached which reads ‘ Uncle’s gonna be there for sure.’ Whether he will be there for her birthday, what was it that made him hide behind the anonymity of the telephone, and would Aleena finally find closure and love again in her life….ummmmm..for that you have to watch the movie.
For a generation weaned on ipods and cell-phones that does everything except biological reproduction, the movie might look stupid, but this was a time where love was a warm feeling. The film also had some interesting cameos including Mukesh ( I would love to strangle the guy who did the voice dub for him) as the mistaken groom the soul-sisters go to meet at the ice-cream joint for Shari, Suresh Gopi as the actual groom-to-be ( he sure looked more handsome in his younger days ), Sainuddin from Kalabhavan as Santaclaus, Kalabhavan Rahman as the lecherous waiter at the ice-cream joint, Pattanam Rasheed (ace make up man) as the salesman at the cake shop, and of course the adorable bundle of joy and Mary Francis as the baby Deepa.
The film got Raghunath Paleri, the Kerala State Award for the best debut Director, Best Cinematography (Color) for Shaji N. Karun, Best Child Artist (Female) for Geethu Mohandas and Best Editing for T.R. Sekhar. Quite a bundle, considering that the main players of the team were novices.
I have posted the songs in the Music.Magic Section.
OK, so is there a decent DVD available of this movie?
Where can I get it?
MoserBaer Home Videos have released it on video, check their site here.