Old friends pass away, new friends appear.
Old friends pass away, new friends appear.
It is one thing having to put up with crappy VCD’s of old classics in Malayalam, with their atrocious resolution complements and pricing that is surprisingly more than DVDs! Its quite something else to look at marketing gimmicks that attempt to push the same down your throat banking on the customer’s perceived ignorance. So, here I get a rude shock in my last outing for classical Malayalam movies, when I see MARUTHI VIDEOS proudly telling me, ” Here, buy this movie! It’s the only one with Kamalhasan and Jayan together in Malayalam cinema history!”
Salil Choudhary had this amazing sensibility to really get under the skin of any genre of music that he was briefed to create according to the Director’s vision. Add to the sound tapestry that we are familiar with, when it comes to Salilda‘s contribution to Malayalam cinema, a Russian composition for Nellu (1974), and I would say the most perfect Christian harmonic church chorale I have ever heard onscreen was in Aparadhi ( 1977), Nanma Cherum Amma. It is also surprising that he never repeated that composition anywhere, maybe because it was so appropriate and unique, just perfect for that moment for that one film in Malayalam. I have had the misfortune to listen to countless versions ( really really horrible, terrible, scary covers) of the song available in the market, and I chuckle to myself when you realise that even with the latest cut-and-paste sound engineering magic in recording studios these days, NO ONE has been able to replicate the haunting harmony of the song!
If you haven’t watched Poombatta (1971), yours truly recommends you to do that. Not just for the fact that it was a simple, straightforward story, without any fussy ‘superstars’ of that era ( well..almost, it does have Raagini in a guest role), but for laying it out in brilliant contrast, the acting prowess of a little girl called Baby Sridevi, or the Sridevi as we know her today. Karoor Neelakanta Pillai’s literary work ( I am of the belief that it has to be one of his short stories, if it ever was, or else he wrote it for the screen, and no, I have NOT read any of his literary works which I plan to, soon). The story was the done-to-death oneliner of little-girl-redeemed-from-her-suffering-by-kindly couple, and BK Pottekkad ( the director), gives you an advance warning that it is of course, a ‘Children’s Film.’
From being the cinematic ‘experience’ of the movement, captured from real life ( with a reasonable amount of commercial ingredients added), I guess the genre got itself a kick in the face (literally) when Adoor Gopalkrishnan‘s Mukhamukhom (Face to Face) released in 1984. Adoor, just pulled apart the rotting guts of the ‘movement’, and then laid it bare on the silver screen. Broadly, I feel, from this point on, the focus was more on the effect of the ideology on the individualities/personalities, rather that glorifying the ‘revolution’. The past 2 decades haven’t budged from this perspective – it was more about the “I, than the Ideology ” . I guess the ones that come to mind, across these 25-odd years, reasonably explains well, the enduring perspective of the dilemma of the human being who gets caught between the ideology, consumed by it, and is gradually disillusioned by it.
Intricate and innocent – hardly the pair of words you would associate with the quintessential species called the ‘house-owner’ seen in Malayalam movies through the years. In my college years, I spent a great deal of time living in rented houses and had my share of interaction with this species. None of it was heavenly and, if at all I did gain a perspective about them, it wasn’t the least laudatory.
They would fight with you for the rent (inevitably late!), spy on you lest your female friends made it a habit to visit you for socially questionable reasons, and face a barrage of questions every time your mates descended for a raucous party which would shake the neighbourhood and leave everyone’s eardrums in tatters. Life as a tenant was essentially about time spent in pursuit of clandestine arts – how to hoodwink and how to deal with a pest called the ‘house-owner’.
Aakashangalil Irikkum Njangalude (Our Father who art in Heaven) from K.S.Sethumadhavan’s Naadan Pennu (1967) still gives me goosebumps each time I listen to it. Like most of its contemporary compositions, this Vayalar creation was simple, sweet and beautiful. For anyone who knew the Lord’s Prayer, this was a step closer to divinity, and for most who haven’t, an absolute gem that captures the spirit of the evening vespers.