Mom – Thoughts on the Sridevi Starrer

The ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case shook the collective conscience of the country. Across the country, candle-light vigils and protests were held and we all prayed that the victim would by some miracle of medicine and prayers survive; but it was not to be. Since the horrific and painful incident, we regularly receive news-reports of abuse, rape, murder and the vilest of them all – child-rape by perverted paedophiles. Every single time, the blood boils, the castrated rage finds outrage-outlet on one’s social networking profile and then everything is forgotten. Some friends whom I know are taking concrete measures by conducting safety-awareness and self-defence workshops, which are empowering women and young girls.

Get in touch with Janani – for more information!

I will get back to the movie, this is not exactly a review, so it will not follow the usual – starcast and technical crew details. Sridevi plays a Biology teacher with two daughters, one a teenager and the other about eight or nine years old. The elder daughter is gang-raped and dumped in a drain, the perpetrators include her classmates, a watchman and a goon. The girl attends a Valentine’s Day party at a farmhouse organised by her classmates and Sridevi grants permission with a bit of fear in her mind and all her fears come true as her daughter undergoes the unmentionable. Credit to the director to not slip into sleaze and show any uncomfortable scenes. The girl survives, is discovered, admitted to the hospital and a case filed. What follows is a true depiction of the blasted legal system that this country is left with as a remnant of our Colonial Hangover and how the suspects/accused escape with ease.

The rest of the movie details how the anguished mother avenges the traumatic rape of her daughter with a bit of help from Nawazuddin Sidiqqui who plays a detective. The climax happens in the mountains and Akshaye Khanna as the investigative cop has a good role too. Kudos to the actor playing the distraught dad as well. The girl who portrays the victim has also done a good job and I look forward to her acting in longer and meaningful roles.

A sad reminder of the times that we live in – vigilante justice remains the only solution!

 

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D for Devasuram

Mangalaserry Neelakandan, ah the name evokes so many memories. This was the movie that established Mohanlal’s mass appeal for another generation of movie-lovers. With a story by Ranjith based on a real life character called Mullasserry Rajagopalan. The story examines the concept of ‘karma’ the fruits of our actions in an entertaining manner.

The movie was directed by acclaimed movie-maker IV Sasi someone who has given hits with both the Mohanlal and Mammootty. The tale is set in a Kerala village and traces the rivalry of two well-off heirs of strong independent and rich clans. Mangalaserry Neelakandan played by Mohanlal and Mundakkal Shekaran played by Napoleon. Neelakandan whiles away his time and money in idle pursuits of alcohol, some music, some dance and general fun; while his estate is managed by Warrier played by Innocent in a really well done role.

In a skirmish Neelakandan’s friend kills Shekaran’s uncle accidentally and Shekaran plots his revenge aiming to destroy Neelakandan.

In the interim, the romantic interlude arrives in the form of Bhanumathi played by Revathi – a classical dancer. In a burst of male ego, Neelakandan uses his influence to force Bhanumathi to dance in his house instead of letting her perform at the temple festival. This is deemed an insult as a dance dedicated to the gods ends up as a performance for a demon-like man. Bhanumathi curses Neelakandan at the end of the performance and walks away in tears. This mellows Neelakandan and he attempts to change and helps Bhanu’s family and tries to convince her to resume dancing again. But Bhanu steadfastly refuses to do so.

There is a moment of epiphany, when Neelakandan’s widowed mother confesses that in reality he is not the progeny of the hailed Managalserry tharavad but he is a bastard son, born of another man. As Neelakandan’s world crumbles around him he realises that all his bravado, pumped up super-arrogant male ego and wealth is the result of a lie. The viewer slowly sees a gentler and more humane side of Neelakandan and Bhanu also realises that an iota of goodness and humanity exists in the demon. One night Shekaran and his gang attack Neelakandan and injure him seriously causing grievous injury to Neelakandan’s legs.

Bhanu realises that her curse has proved true and is ridden by guilt. With care, love and Ayurvedic treatment she nurses Neelakandan back to good health and invariably falls in love with him. Neelakandan tries to distance himself from Bhanu considering her future and even attempts to arrange a dance performance for her in Delhi. But as things pan out – she professes her love for him and with the blessings of Warrier their wedding is arranged.

All this while Shekaran continues to simmer in anger and plans to once again wreak havoc in the life of Neelakandan by insulting him in front of the whole village. He arranges for Bhanu to be abducted and kept in captivity and then at the temple festival begins beating Neelakandan he keeps taunting him telling if he retaliates his men would kill Bhanu. Blow after blow rains on Neelakandan and he bears the pain fearing for the love of his life.

Friends to the rescue:
Neelakandan’s friends rescue Bhanu and as this message reaches Neelakandan, the demon within him is unleashed and a brutal man-to-man hand-to-hand combat begins between the two. Eventually in a powerful climax Neelakandan picks up a ceremonial sword and cuts off Shekaran’s right hand; proclaiming – ‘Enough is enough Shekaran, I want to live in peace and for that I am taking this hand of yours.’

Music:
With lyrics by Girish Puttencherry, music by MG Radhakrishnan and a rousing background score by SP Venkitesh the soundtrack was exceptional. Angopangan sung by KS Chitra, Sooryakireedam by MG Sreekumar and Sree Paadam by MG Sreekumar and KS Chitra evoke a lot of emotions.

The movie was a blockbuster and set the benchmark for Mohanlal’s larger than life image. Some years later a sequel titled ‘Ravanaprabhu’ was released with MOhanlal in a double-role as father and son and retained the core cast of Devasuram. Ravana Prabhu also did good business with a melodious number – Ariyaadhe, Ariyaadhe’ picturised on Mohanlal and Vasundhara Das.

I present the climax of the movie available on YouTube – power-packed finish! Watch the full movie, you will not be disappointed!

C for Chanakyan

Not many people realise that Kamal Hassan has also acted in a fair number of Malayalam movies as well.

We have seen many one-film wonders who disappoint us with their subsequent efforts. Or they raise the bar so high with their first effort that everything else that follows pales in comparison. TK Rajeev Kumar knows this first-hand, his first film Chanakyan starring Kamal, Thilakan, Jayaram and the heart-breakingly beautiful Urmilla Matondkar who would go on to sway the hearts of many a teen and man in Rangeela’s songs!

Chanakyan is a revisionist revenge saga if I may use the phrase wherein Johnson a music teacher played by Kamal falls in love with Renu played by Urmilla. Renu is a politician’s daughter – Madhava Menon – played with finesse by Thilakan. The over-protective father attempts to dissuade the young musician’s love for his daughter; but things go awry as Menon ensures that Johnson’s family – aged mother and sisters are arrested in a flesh-trade/prostitution case. In humiliation the family commits suicide and Johnson is beaten and left to die on the railway tracks.

Johnson then returns after a number of years. In the interim Menon has become a highly successful and respected leader and is assured of a victory in the upcoming elections.

Johnson befriends Jayaram a mimicry artiste and uses the latter’s mimicry skills to destroy Menon’s career and credibility. how he does this is something that has to be seen to believed. This is one of the few movies which I feel definitely needs a reboot for the times. If Kamal plays Menon’s role in the reboot it would be icing on the cake!

Eventually a standoff ensues wherein Menon shoots Johnson in public view and destroys all his chances of political victory!

Noted for Jayaram’s mimicry, Thilakan’s calm brutality, Kamal in a uniquely restrained role, innovative plot-structure and a glimpse of Urmilla – the young starlet who would go on to blossom into a successful actress. Sadly she has been relegated to a reality television judge roles now!

A bit slow by today’s standards of action-paced thrillers; but a good watch on an idle evening!