MT Vasudevan Nair’s screenplay of Iruttinte Athmavu (1967), though written based on his short story which was published even earlier, sounds as incisive and at some levels, visonary, in the way he has made his characters speak on the issue of the Unsound Mind in our social structure.
Rarely do I come across a movie with all the songs picturised on the lead female protagonist, sung for her by the same playback singer as solo renderings. With Iruttinte Athmavu (1967), it rises a couple of more levels as each one of them, with its perfect picturisation and lyrics, becomes a cherished treasure in its own right.
Iruttinte Athmavu ( The Soul of Darkness ) has to be probably the first mainstream Malayalam film which highlighted the travails of the unsound mind on the silver screen through its main protagonist, Velayudhan, brought to life by Prem Nazir. At a time when candyfloss romances and insanely skewed and delightful CID capers were ruling the marquee, P Bhaskaran’s attempt in bringing this “social malaise’’ was a daring effort, similar to what he attempted with Ramu Kariat in Neelakkuyil (1954), bringing untouchability to the fore. I say social malaise from a broad perspective, as, even in this age of advanced medicine, our basic mindset of an unsound mind is still a “life, doomed”, to be lived in chains.