Monday, 20 June 2011


2011 by T K Rajeev Kumar

Late P. Padmarajan, even after decades, would be considered as one of the best 5 (or best 3) writer / director Malayalam cinema ever had. Almost all his scripts and directorial ventures struck some chord with Malayaalees. In fact many of them are considered classics. Even the young movie goers of today, when they watch a Padmarajan movie from 70 or 80's cant stop admiring this writer/director. For me his Rathi nirvedam (first released in '78) was his least impressive attempt. Only Ozhivukalam could be the script which can vie with Rathinirvedam as a less impressive script from Padmarajan. But even this Rathinirvedam, with an exceptional turn in the climax, turned out to be a cult movie in '78, proves how brilliant he was. Padmarajan's family permitted Rajeev Kumar to use any of his stories or scripts to work on, as Rajeev Kumar had earlier withdrawn one of his movie projects, upon realising the similarities in the story with Jnan Gandharvan, the last movie from Padmarajan before his untimely death. I still cannot understand why Rajeev Kumar chose Rathi nirvedam of all the stories from Padmarajan.

The desires and infatuations felt by a teenager, towards an older woman, nearing 30, from the neighbourhood makes up Rathinirvedam. 

I saw Rathinirvedam, as a teenager some time around 89/92, only when it came back to the theatres (mostly for porn reasons) when Malayalam cinema was filled with D grade soft porn movies between 86 and 90's. I was impressed by Jaya bharathi, but I couldnt believe how Padmarajan could write that script, which had very little of Padmarajan, as I was a big fan of that maestro. Rathinirvedam 2011 is an even bohring movie. A major drawback is the casting and performance of Shweta menon as Rathi. Ms. Menon looks too old for that role, nor does she hold the exotic/natural charm required for the village belle, Rathi. I found only 2 improvements from the '78 movie. The setting has been changed to the backwater region, from the hills, which  definitely helps the story settings. The title frames were wonderful.

I watched this movie in the Shenoys theatre in Ernakulam, one of the largest movie houses in Kerala. I think it has above 750 covers. It was 90% filled, but for such a woman oriented subject there were hardly 10 women  inside. I just would like to say how hypocritic Keralan society has turned out to be. Back in the 70's and 80's, there were many movies in Malayalam which had sex or sensuality as a theme or backdrop. Some of them, like Rathinirvedam, Avalude Raavukal, Thakara etc were also huge hits which became cult movies too. Back then, Malayaalee family audiences did not find anything wrong in watching these movies in a cinema house. My own parents have told me, how they watched Avalude Raavukal, with me and my brother as infant babies in a packed theatre. I myself have seen large family crowds (please read couples, not families with kids or teenagers) que up for a movie like Ee Noottaandile Mahaarogam (which was a real porn movie with explicit nudity, using a veil of medical advise on AIDS) in Ernakulam.

Fast forward to the 2000's and even with any hints of some cleavage show or sensuality in a movie, Keralan family audience would not venture into a movie house. {Rajeev Kumar made a brilliant movie in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu, which was a big flop. I hope he understood then that Keralan family audience would ignore any movie with plots having any kind of sensuality or seductions. So its quite perplexing that he still chose Rathinirvedam out of all Padmarajan movies. But this time, sure, his producer would be happy}.

I find this bloody hypocritic, especially when the same audiences are very enthusiastic to watch Bollywood flicks, which in fact have even much more cleavage shows than in movies like Rathinirvedam. There is NIL nudity in Rathinirvedam than some naval show. Actresses like Shweta Menon or for that reason, even Shakeela (who starred in lots of soft porn movies towards the end of 90's) exposes NIL, when compared to the prominent Bollywood heroines. But these unfortunate ladies are harrowed and the Bollywood ones are adored even inside the families. Some of the vulgar gesticulations in the name of dance, which even some western friends of mine considered shockingly vulgar and provocative, by these Bollywood celebrities, are enjoyed by the whole families in their living rooms. I can only take this as blatant hypocrisy.

At the same time, from the other side, it is true that the behaviour of the mass inside a movie house could be one reason why women keep away from theatre. For yesterday, the theatre was full of jovial chaos and the kind of applause Shweta Menon received, each and every time she came on the screen was unbelievable. Add to this the horrible kind of comments which were raised from every corner and the movie hall turned into some kind of hall filled with sexually malnutrition-ed and morally disoriented group of men, who didn't even mind rasing ugly comments, with a woman and husband sitting just next to them. It was really embarrassing actually. Every body thinks the biggest problem in Kerala is alcoholism. I would rather say, mis information and de orientation on matters of sex, lack of sexual choices, opportunities and sexual wisdom is more serious than the problems with alcohol.

A really bohring movie. Tornatore's Malena, showing the love of an adolescent to the  gorgeous Monica Bellucci is a 100 times better watch.

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