Paithrukam – I am not sure of an exact one-word English substitute for the word; I guess ‘paternal affection/duty’ would come close to the title’s meaning. With a brilliant screenplay by Kaloor Dennis, from a story by George Vettam and excellent direction by Jayaraj. The story is set in a family of Kerala Brahmin priests headed by Devadathan Chemmathiripadu played by Narendra Prasad. He is a renowned Vedic scholar and after conducting the Somayagam he is conferred the title of Somayyaji. He has two sons – Somadathan played by Suresh Gopi who is in Delhi to become a journalist and Chithrabhanu played by Jayaram who assists his father in various rituals.
The basic premise of the story is the purported conflict between religion/rituals and scientific thinking. The movie examines the importance of rituals in life and how there is a higher power, which cannot be questioned.
Somadathan return to the village as an atheist and political activist he goes about speaking against the rituals and traditions and the existence of God and marries Gayathri his lover. They take up residence in an old dilapidated house and destroy the idols of the ‘Sarpa Devangal’ (Snake Gods) while cleaning the house.
Chithrabhanu is in love with a girl from a neighbouring village and expresses his wishes to his mother who speaks to Somayyaji. Then comes the shocker when his father says that a tragic flaw in his horoscope indicates that Chithrabhanu may die by the time he is 27 years old. Broken-hearted he commits suicide. Somadathan who loves his brother a lot is enraged and accuses his father of driving his younger brother to death.
In the interim Gayathri suffers miscarriages and loses the child in the womb itself. She is also haunted by dreams of snakes and speaks to her mother-in-law. This result sin a sarpadosha puja being done to which Somadathan reacts angrily. Gayathri moves to the main house and in the loving care of her mother-in-law safely gives birth to a boy. Somadathan again states that his son will grow up like him and should not be brought up as per Vedic traditions.
As the village suffers from drought the elders decide to conduct an Athirathram to please Lord Indra and ensure bountiful rains and a good harvest. Somadathan again ridicules his father who is in charge of the ceremony and asks him if the ceremony fails will he leave the pursuit of the Vedas. His father accepts this and says if the ceremony is successful would Somadathan accept the presence of God and the Vedas!
In a fascinating climax as the ceremony goes along across twelve days; there is no sign of rain and the atheists continue to protest. Lo and behold on the final day the rains pour. Somadathan is dumbfounded and he accepts defeat. Somayaji lost in the intesnsity of his prayers, meditates and sacrifices his life. The movie ends showing Somadathan as the new priest and continuing the Vedic traditions for which his father gave up his life.
The movie had fantastic songs composed by SP Venkitesh and written by Kaithaparam.
Pingami – ‘Follower’
A revenge saga with a difference; wherein the hero attempts to rescue an injured stranger and discovers a diary that reveals his own secret history. A fascinating premise right! Directed by Sathyan Anthikad with a story by Reghunath Paleri and with a powerful starcast – Thilakan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Innocent, Janardhanan, Sukumaran, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Kanaka, Puneet Issarr and others. The movie is an investigative thriller with quite a few twists and generous comic sequences.
Mohanlal plays Captain Vijay Menon on military-leave; on reaching his ancestral village he stumbles upon an accident victim Kuamran played by Thilakan and takes him to the hospital – where he dies. He discovers Kumaran’s diary and as he read it he discovers the truth about his own identity and realises that his parents were killed by the same group of people who killed Kumaran.
The movie brilliantly depicts how Vijay tracks down each of the perpetrators of the crime and extracts revenge. There are some brilliant scenes where he emerges out of a swimming pool and strikes fear into the hearts of the villains. In another sequence Innocent playing a corrupt lawyer is kidnapped and made to wear exploding briefs and made to confess!
The final showdown in an isolated guesthouse in the hills is well-done with some good fight sequences. The movie ends with a bomb-blast and revenge is extracted!
A romantic angle between Sridevi played by Kanaka – Kumaran’s daughter is another highlight!
Jagathy as Kutti Hassan – Vijay’s friend is a laugh-riot. His combination scenes with Innocent and the exploding briefs evoke laughter!
Perhaps not a great movie – but still figures in this list because of the interesting premise of the tale. I would love to see this movie remade with a new bunch of stars and Lalettan playing Thilakan’s role!
Wishlist – 1 – ‘Panchagni’ – Am ashamed to call myself a Lalettan fan as I have not seen this gem yet :(!
Wishlist – 2 – ‘Pavithram’ very close to my heart and I feel I will break into tears if I write a detailed post about the movie. So I leave you with a song that I treasure and cherish!