Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Padmarajan trip

Have been on a Padmarajan trip of late. To those unlucky souls not familiar with Malayalam cinema, Padmarajan directed some of the most interesting movies made in Malayalam. Uniquely, almost all his movies were commercially successful and critically acclaimed as well.

Being an award winning novelist and scriptwriter, Padmarajan's success as a movie director was built on the oustanding scripts that he wrote, many based on his own novels or short stories. Contrastingly, Bharathan, maker of equally artistic and watchable movies of the same period, based his direction on his skills as a painter, creating visually rich movies like Vaishali. Of course, Vaishali is a movie avan remembers more for the company with whom it was watched than anything else.

This is being written early on a Saturday morning, after a night when both bacchus and sleep were forgone in favour of two of Padmarajan's best, Thoovaanathumbikal (Butterflies in the rain) and Desadanakkili Karayarilla (The migratory bird does not cry!!! - My English translation does little justice to the poetry of the Malayalam original). It was pure coincidence that both these movies also featured virtuoso performances by Mohanlal (The 80s-90s version that Mallus love, not the current caricature).

Padmarajan was a keen observer of human relationships, especially those on the margins of social acceptability. Thoovanathumbikal is made around one such, between a mildly debauched young landlord and a girl, whom he initiates into prostitution. Watching this movie last night made me realise that multiple levels of meaning are a feature of most good movies. The same movie that I enjoyed as a simple love story nearly 20 years back, now reveals itself as a complex web of relationships, with no clear heroes or villains.

If there was anything Padmarajan was better at than directing movies, it was naming them. Peruvazhiyambalam (The wayside inn) , Thoovanathumbikal (Butterflies in the rain), Kariyilakkaattupole (Like the autumn breeze) are the best titles I have seen for Malayalam movies.

Hope aval is not pissed off with me for writing another movie review. She has been making noises about this blog turning into a movie review forum. Maybe I can get away with calling this a tribute to Padmarajan.!!!!

Bharathan, do not be concerned. You will get your tribute too, as soon as I re-watch a few of your movies :-)

- Avan


Anonymous Aval said...

Aval is far from pissed off. Aval cant wait to find these movies and watch them too.

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous mols said...

i support you.i 'm a die hard fan of padmarajan,more than bharathan

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous sudeep said...

i am also a fan of padmarajan, but saying all his films were commercial successes is taking it too far.. even mohanlal starrers like thoovanatthumbikal and season weren't hits. that said, what i like about him is that he made films for people to watch, not for awards.

also there's no "rain" in thoovanatthumbikal as far as i know! (which part of the name reminded you of rain?)

i don't think bharathan's films were as good as they are made out to be. i liked ormakkayi, vaishali, and devaragam to some extent, but can't think of any other film really worth a mention. and amaram was a huge leap backwards!

the current malayalam film scene is really sad, i have also written on it here.

19 December, 2006  
Blogger avan said...

I translated it as "Butterflies in the rain" because "Pure elephant dragonflies" just did not seem right. :-)

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous sudeep said...

is that a good enough reason for a wrong translation? i doubt. also i didn't know it had something to do with elephants (or was that a joke?) i understood it as the thumbikal of the thoovaanam (clear sky). and looking up the net, i find many places including wikipedia who have translated it wrongly as "Butterflies of the spraying rain". translating a dragonfly to a butterfly was understandable, but i don't know whats the source of this translation. or may be that person also "translated it as Butterflies of the spraying rain because Pure elephant dragonflies just did not seem right".

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Sunil said...

Where can I find reviews of all these movies?

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Shahul said...

Thoovanathumpikal is one of my most favourite movies - I have been watching it once in every 2-3 years for past about 15 years, and I am able to deduce some new meanings and angles every time I watch it.

Regarding the issue of translation - the only other instance I have seen the word "thoovanan" being used is in Padmarajan's story Mazha. There, the mother tells a child who is bathing in the rain "thoovanam koLLalle". Hence, my translation of thoovanathumpikal is "dragonflies in the rain."

Sudeep, rain is even a major character in the movie.

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Padamarajans two other novels 'Prathimayum Rajakumariyum' Manjukalam nottta kuthira are worth of attempted filming. But before that he has gone forever.
Thoovanathumbikal came out better than the novel based on which it was created. Parmarajans films have something haunting, also a death , deep sorrow hanging over

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday read "Udakappola" by Padmarajan.Is "Thoovnathumbikal" based on the story of Jayakrishnan and Clara in that novel?BTW,I feel Thhovanam means drizzle,soft rain if one may say .

31 December, 2006  
Blogger ajith said...

If you dont like Bharathan movies, watch films like Thazhvaaram and the tamil film Thevar Magan.

20 February, 2009  

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