Manichitrathazhu & the newgen Malayalee

snippets from an ongoing discussion that never ever seems to end. On Manichitrathazhru, a well made film in Malayalam, adapted into other languages.

Vaayadi Pennu

As recent as last week, I hear somebody say that Manichitrathazhu is a crappy film. Pin drop silence followed. It takes time to digest statements like these among a certain breed of Malayalees who love, adore this film. It is a topic which the new age Malayalee brought up in the 90s and after can talk endlessly on if they are movie buffs. Even if they are not, references from the film in the nature of songs, dialogue and trolls pop up every other day.

Manichitrathazhru is a 1993 Malayalam film directed by Faasil starring Mohanlal, Shobana, (she won her first national award for her role as Ganga), Suresh Gopi (one of the two roles in which I love Suresh Gopi the other being the character he played in Innale), Vinaya Prasad in the lead (her debut in Malayalam, made her way later into Malayalee daily life with her…

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Aanandam (2016)| Ganesh Raj | Habit of Life| Vineet Srinivasan

a fun film about students of an engineering college going on their first ever trip together as a class! It does look like a chapter from life in college!

Vaayadi Pennu

We have all gone on trips from our schools and colleges. Aanadam is the story of one such four day industrial visit from an engineering college in Kerala to Hampi and Goa. Since a trip is something we have all been part of with our friends and classmates, the film brings back memories of our own trips. Like I went back to the time we had planned a visit to Hyderabad in the month of September from college or that time when my brother came to Hyderabad with his classmates, and my roommates and I took them around HiTech City to make it look like they did go on an IV 😛 Many memories fall in to place with a film like this.

  • Aanandam means joy (that happiness that comes from the heart)
  • I like that name for a production company – habit of life
  • All new faces – waiting…

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Innale – A Padmarajan Film

hqdefaultInnale meaning, yesterday in Malayalam…

It is the story of a young woman who lost all her memories from her past life after a bus accident. A bus accident far away from where she calls home, a bus accident in which she was the only survivor. The doctors at the hospital tell her to be happy that she is alive. They say that the memory loss is a small prize to pay for her life, the big thing was that she had survived.

The film is set in a hilly town somewhere in Kerala/Tamil Nadu border where the different parts of the town is owned by a single family. They own a hospital, the club, houses.. the school.. so this young woman who has nowhere to go is taken up by the family, as a friend. However, love blossoms and then a lover from her past arrives..the story stops is brought to a standstill, so is their happiness.. in that moment when the past comes into the present and is asked to make a decision!

The peaceful life of this little town is disturbed one night when a bus with pilgrims from northern India meets with an accident and fell into their river. Of all the passengers she survived without any physical injury but her memory was wiped clean. It seemed like she was beginning afresh, making new memories with the new people she found after she woke up. However, she is constantly searching for clues of her past life. As she waits, she falls in love and as is with film, the twist appears in the form of her past. Somebody comes in search for her, somebody who came specifically looking for her..

One of the few films where I love the subtlety in the actor Suresh Gopi. The many instances of situational humour brings alive the film all over again,

Innale.. when yesterday is no more, there is only the present and the future to look forward to… starring Shobana in the lead with Jayaram, Suresh Gopi, Sri Vidhya, Captain Raju in supporting roles.

Gouthami & Jayaram in Rajasenan’s Ayalathe Adheham (1992)

I’ve enjoyed watching Ayalathe Adehham (1992) many times over for its situational humour. The film is about two families, neighbouring households, let’s say one red and one yellow for convenience… However, there is also third family, an older family in comparison to our younger red and yellow.. let’s call it blood red. They bring about the climax..

The problems begin when the wife from the red family starts to notice from her window the mush the yellow husband pours out to his wife daily for the littlest of things .. Even though, the yellow neighbour is her friend the red wife begins to envy her. All this yellow mush and her red disappointment increases every time she sees her red husband who is publicly inexpressive to the extent of being boorish.

Rajasenan, the director, goes on to discuss love between spouses, ways of expressing it and its expectations. Fed up with taunts of his wife…the red husband who dearly loves his wife decides on a yellow makeover becoming love expressive. Unfortunately, he is assumed to be mentally deranged…which shows a clean disconnect between their choice of the shade of yellow😀 Nobody seems to understand the trouble that brews within the red husband burdened with these yellow expectations until the climax when he rips off the mask (helmet) of the yellow husband! Even he is stunned at the unexpected turn of events. All the red rage, frustration and disappointment is shown in the way this man chases and catches a thief who happens to be the yellow husband. A mask falls off.. The yellow family is shattered! So is the blood red family.

The film is a warning to all red husbands and those spouses who fail to express an affection to their spouses. What to do, people have different natures.. The red husband is an easy target to pin all the boorishness on because our society has stamped men unemotional, insensitive, forgetful masculine beings in domesticity…. (Poor them) …The climax clearly brings out a possible future life situation in this red family. It is bleak if things remain red!!! If the red wife still looks up to yellow mush and the red husband resists a change… If only the film had ended on a shade of orange.

Departing from the exaggeration depicted in the film into reality.. it need not be always a kiss or a hug, every relationship has a unique way of showing affection. I felt really sad for my aunt this one time, we were out for lunch. 5 of us. DJ, MJ & me, and my uncle and his wife. My mother was eating only fish that week, so when the menu card came, DJ who was sitting on the outer edge of the table ordered fish for MJ right away.. He ordered chicken for me with a loose gravy since I prefer it to fish.. That care and a knowhow of a food choice is also an expression of love.. But this is everyday for us.. If either MJ or I were sitting with the menu we would have also done the same without a second thought. The uncle ordered a thali* for himself..but in the midst of all this my aunt was ignored. She never said anything either when all of us ordered additions to the already ordered menu. Not that there wasn’t sufficient food on the table for all but .. The dishes were anyway going to be shared as they were not served in portion size .. Realizing this a little later, I nudged my uncle sitting next to me… In that moment, she would have wanted uncle to order for her more than anyone of us..(they are also a loving couple) this made her a teeny bit sad and it was evident… It was one of those times..(she may have kicked my uncle under the table..) I did scold DJ later for missing out the aunt.. He did not realize, either!

To give you another example, one of my friends is allergic to corn. Wherever we go out, whoever has the menu card involuntarily tells the waiter, this dish but without corn.. We are careful to order something in addition to popcorn even at the theater.. It is not a spousal relationship we share.. Still that is also love..

There is a hidden sense of a comparison in the name of the film itself because ‘Ayalathe’/അയലത്തെ means neighbour/neighbourhood.. Adheham/അദ്ദേഹം is a (respectful) way of referring to people, in this case husbands… it exudes this Hindi word ‘aap’ kind of respect..


Anu Menon’s Waiting (2016) Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin

I would say go watch Waiting. Not just for Shah and Koechlin, but for the concept behind the film. Because it is something which people tend to easily overlook. Unless,          they have lived it at some point in their lives (god forbid)

Waiting in front of an ICU or an ICCU, or being a bystander to a dear one (in a state of coma)/admitted to the hosptial for something .. is an anxious moment nevertheless enveloped in a lot of hope. I think that is why even if we add dots after the word waiting it becomes onomatopoeiac, the dots imitating the waiting in the meaning of the word ……..

The film stages a comaradarie that develops between two such bystanders, Prof Shiv Natraj and Tara Kapoor. They are in their different stages of shock, grieving over their spouses who are admitted to this hospital in Cochin. The difference between how two people stuck in a similar situation can help each other is how the film progresses.

The film begins when Tara is informed that her husband has met with an accident and has drifted into a coma. The film follows her “stages of grief” as it were,

However, this could also be an indication that these are the stages Prof Shiv had gone through when he was first informed about his wife’s stroke. He has been waiting for his wife to wake up from her coma for 8 months now. In this time, he has brought back a rhythm to his life around his wife who is in the hospital. It is endearing to see him read to her. At the same time, it is sad to see him wide awake when the alarm rings at 6 in the morning. He passes on his experience to Tara who is a mess in the first-two weeks.

With focus on these two characters, the film is layered with ideas of a generation gap, new age technology, spousal relations, empathy, friendship, human interactions and belief systems.Out of all this, I loved this one very practical line that Shiv tells Tara, (paraphrasing) in a situation like this eating, sleeping and bathing should go on like daily routine. I think it makes a lot of sense. Not just in the given situation but under any circumstance that temporaralily upsets the equilibrium of our lives. I would add, reading, if you are a voracious reader, or whatever one does with their hands in terms of crafts and recreation, and daily exercise..  Here’s the trailer.


Google images

My soft corner for the film also comes out because I could go to Cochin and back in 90 minutes. Familiar roads of my home! 😘

Cross posted @ pins n ashes

Jacobinte Swargarajyam (JSR for short)

Jacobinte Swargarajam, JSR for short, translates to Jacob’s Kingdom of Heaven. The story, set in Dubai, closely relates to real events in the life of Jacob Zachariah and his family who are close friends with director Vineeth Srinivasan.

Given this background, the film is the story of a large family. Even though the word large is an exaggeration, Jacob (Ranji Panicker) and his wife Sherly (Lakshmy Ramakrishna) has 4 kids, Jerry (Nivin Pauly), Abin (Sreenath Bhasi), Ammu & Chris. Each member has a part to play. If you ask whose film is this, it is all of theirs. It is a Nivin Pauly film, so is a Ranji Panickar film, so is a Lakshmi Ramakrishnan film.

Periodic in a way, the film shows the sutures and the ruptures in a family during an extended bad patch they face.

Shyamaprasad’s Ivide (2015)

These are the days when I do not miss to watch the films of two actors, Prithviraj and Nivin Pauly. Shyamaprasad’s Ivide had both of them in leading roles so it proved to my advantage. To me, watching Ivide felt like watching an episode of say, Criminal Minds, CSI or Castle, because the attitude and tone of the film was very American. American in approach except for the fact that the main cast are three leading actors of the Malayalam film industry. Shyamaprasad has succeeded in creating that illusion of an american urban space and its ethos.

Ivide sets out to tell the story of three Malayalees settled in the city of Atlanta in the backdrop of an American IT workforce steadily losing jobs as a result of the new policies on outsourcing work to countries namely, India.

The film begins when Bhavana is recruited by the Nivin Pauly led firm as part of their project team. Bhavana is also Nivin’s classmate from school. Prithiraj plays the role of a cop in the city police force, also Bhavana’s ex husband and the father of her daughter. The plot of the film runs as a diary in his head and the film is narrated from his point of view

The plot thickens when details of their personal lives spill out. Prithviraj’s life is such and such because he is a Malayalee  adopted by American parents when he was 7 years old from an orphanage in Kerala. As a result of which, the man has internal conflicts leading towards a kind of rootlessness.. he knows no Malayalam although he was born to Malayalee parents, he is an American citizen by adoption but feels less American for many reasons. Nivin Pauly is the brain behind bringing and turning around a company which sold oil into a successful IT firm.

The plot gets a further dimension with the murder investigation assigned to  Prithviraj and his partner. The first man to be murdered is an Indian in the timeline of the film. The murder story is up to you to watch and solve. If I dwell more on the causes and reasons of the murder, I may just solve the mystery here in the blog post, so watch the film for where it takes Prithviraj and how it intermingles with the lives of the characters played by Nivin Pauly and Bhavana.

Unlike Premam, the film caters to a niche audience because of the prolific  use of the English language. It is not a Malayalm film set in the US, but seems like an American film with a few Malayalee characters.

In addition, I feel it falls more into the category of drama rather than that of a crime thriller because the crime and the investigation are not the driving forces that take the film forward. The relations between people are a key to understanding the film, between employers and employees, what the axim blood is thicker than water does when it comes to taking core decisions, the sweat and determination of people to become successful, unhappy married lives, internal traumatic personalities and finally reasons for killing another human being ..

English is the main language of the film because of the location, there is also Malayalam, and Tulu/Konkani, a little Tamil… the presence of more than one language among an umbrella group called the Malayalees presents the diversity.

The surprise package was the dubbing – Prithviraj and even Bhavana speak flawlessly in an American accent coupled with their mannerisms, from their walk and talk, they seem to be born and brought up and settled in the States for a long long time! A well made film… recommended

©pins n ashes 2016