By: Settu Shankar
Thursday, November 15, 2007
In the late eighties, K Balachander had tried making real different Tamil films. Oru Veedu Iru Vaasal was one such and in which he told two different stories in a single movie. Now director Adoor Gopalakrishnan is trying the same thing but he tells four different stories in single movie, that too with in 2 hours 30 minutes.
Naalu Pennungal is surely different from other Adoor films with four different stories, each distinct from the other with no apparent attempt to link them together. But there is an underlying link. All the four stories (penned by the late Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai) speak about feministic concerns. Moreover all the four stories have narrated well by the director.
The first story in Naalu Pennungal is 'Oru Niyamalanghanathinte Katha', which has a street prostitute named Kunjipennu (Padmapriya) as the pivotal character. The story, set in the backdrop of the 1940's, speaks about what happens when Kunjipennu at last finds someone who loves her dearly and who wants to lead a life with her by his side as her husband. How society reacts to this is narrated subtly and forms the rest of the plot.
The second story, titled 'Kanyaka', is about a very bold and industrious peasant girl Kumari (Geetu Mohandas), who marries a man named Narayanan, who runs a shop and who has been praised by all as someone who doesn't have a single vice. As everyone expects a very good family life for the couple, Narayanan's business skills and obsession with food with little liking for everything else including his wife, leaves Kumari in dire streets. When she left back to her home Kumari starts life afresh, passing off her marriage as an unpleasant interlude that never happened.
The third story, titled 'Chinnu Amma', tells the story of a middle-aged homemaker named Chinnu (Manju Pillai.. And there is Nara Pillai, who is on a visit to his native village after being in Tamilnadu for a long time and who visits Chinnu frequently with the intention of sharing her bed. But Chinnu, the mentally strong woman protects herself against a sin that should not be committed.
The fourth story 'Nityakanyaka' is about Kamakshi (Nandita Das), a girl from an affluent family, who remains a spinster even after her younger sisters and younger brother get married and live with their families (like KB's Aval Oru Thodarkathai). The plight of Kamakshi and the way society sees her and the way she reacts to the responses of those around her forms the plot.
Though all the four stories haven't any direct link, the director maintains feminism and sexual exploitation on women is the under current. Another important aspect of the film is that even the minor characters are portrayed with due importance. For example the character played by Sona Nair in the first story and the character played by Ramya Nambeesan in the fourth one.
Performance-wise everyone has done justice to their roles. Padmapriya as Kunjipennu, Geethu Mohandas as Kumari, Nandu as Narayanan, Manju Pillai as Chinnu, Mukesh as Nara Pillai, Murali as Raman Nair, Nandita Das as Kamakshi, Kavya Madhavan as Kamakshi's sister Subhadra and Ravi Vallathol as Subhadra's husband Parameswaran Nair, all have more or less lived in their characters.
On the technical side, Radhakrishnan cinematography is noteworthy. The editing, artwork, and the background score make the film as classy. One couldn't compare this film with Adoor's previous excellent movies like Kodiyettam or Elipathayam but it is surely a welcome effort by the director to maintain the Malayalam cinemas classic flavor.
Verdict: Very Good!
Cast: Padmapriya, Geethu Mohandas, Manju Pillai, Nanditha Das, Kavya Mathavan, Sreejith, Nandu, Murali, Gopakumar, KAPC Lalitha, Ramya Nambeesan and Sona Nair.
Direction: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Production: Benzy Martyn – Adoor Gopalakrishnan