Friday, September 28, 2007

Shyamaprasad's Ore Kadal

In the early days after the release of the film, the Media both print and electronic had carried reviews, reports, interviews of the filmmaker and the cast. It was when I heard a lot of conflicting remarks about the film that I decided to go for it. Not that I wouldn't have gone for it otherwise; just that I felt it may move out one of these days and I'd have to wait for a Festival to watch the film.

Did I enjoy the film? Where do I place it on my list of films? Did my response to the film match those of the friends and acquaintances who said, "This is no way to portray a woman", "I don't know whether it is a good film, but it is a film one must see"

My opinion of the film is closer to the second. Moreover, there is no need to get disturbed on another's take on the woman just because it does not match your own attitude.

Now to the film. Meera Jasmine as Deepti has done her role exceedingly well. Her small world is thrown out of gear by a series of events, the major one being her walking into Dr Nathan's house asking for help. Whether Mammooty was the right choice is something that can be debated. He may have given his best, but till the end, we were conscious of the fact that it was Mammooty acting as Dr Nathan. Malayalam Cinema has good actors but the inability to exploit their talent in a variety of roles reflects the near-absence of range in the characters they normally portray on screen. Maybe a Naseeruddin Shah or a Farookh Shaikh would have done a good job by getting under the skin of the character. We do have films like Sparsh, Ek Pal, where these actors displayed their acting acumen.

Have often heard it said that when we judge a film what you have to look out for is, whether the director has succeeded in communicating what he had in mind. Going by that criterion, "Yes, the film communicates". All the other aspects of portrayal of the woman, dynamics of the man-woman relationship, infidelity etc are issues we as viewers have. To expect the filmmaker/characters to mouth our point of view, that isn't fair.

A review of Ore Kadal in a vernacular magazine defines it as an exemplary portrayal of "Pranayam". Maybe "Yes" and "No". Because nowhere does the heroine take up cudgels for the Social scientist, nor does she deride or compare her husband and the 'other man'(except towards the end of the film when she tells Nathan). What was interesting was the manner in which he (filmmaker) had etched the two characters. He was sure of how it should shape up and never did it slip from his control. A good script probably helped, did not notice the name of the scriptwriter. Usually such themes get mauled because there is a constant attempt to please the audience, or pander to what they are likely to appreciate. Even as I feel this very strongly, I think the conclusion showing the children climb up all the floors to be with the mother was something that made one think, "Oh no, why this scene?"

The restraint exercised in portraying the intimacy between the two has to be appreciated. As individuals, Deepti, her husband and Dr Nathan display no characteristics which can be called out of this world. Naren using his wife to go upto a near-stranger and ask for a loan or Nathan who can think of a woman not as a person, but only as a mere object of his desire, or Deepti who is not educated, would like to study but is caught up in the web of running a family all quite close to the real. The songs were uncalled for I thought,it did not in any way do any value-add to the final product.

Not having read "Hirak Deepti" by Sunil Gangopadhyay, I cannot fathom how much the filmmaker has taken from the original. Or,is he getting into the habit of using works of fiction as crutches and USPs?

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