Padmarajan’s Clara – Part I

[ I am a great admirer of writer-scriptwriter-director Padmarajan’s movies like any other Malayali. After watching his movie Thoovaanathumpikal, I was fascinated by it’s leading lady character Clara. This post is the first of a two-part post that tries to explain how Clara stands out as one of the most powerful woman characters of Malayalam cinema ]

Padmarajan is a director who has given some of the best on-screen characters of Malayalam cinema. Female characters have important roles to play in his films but not at the cost of side-lining the male characters; just like any other typical commercial movies of our times. However, there are a couple of movies in which he portrayed some of the most powerful women characters of Malayalam cinema. And I think Clara, the prostitute from the movie Thoovaanathumpikal, stands out from the rest and is one of the most powerful women characters of Malayalam cinema to the date.

Thoovaanathumpikal (meaning Butterflies in the Spraying Rain) is a much talked about film of Padmarajan where the praises have gone to actor Mohan Lal for his portrayal of Jayakrishnan, a man with complex characteristics (and Mohan Lal has done his job perfectly well). But very little has been written about it’s women characters – Radha (played by Parvathi) and Clara (played by Sumalatha) – but they are proof of Padmarajan’s craftsmanship.

Padmarajan’s Clara is not a typical woman character usually portrayed in Malayalam cinema (or Indian cinema). Clara is not a shy village girl who would surrender herself in love before a man and then would spend her entire life in grief if she was cheated. Here Clara is an exact opposite to the female lead of Padmarajan’s another movie, Novemberinte Nashtam. The leading girl of Novemberinte Nashtam is a happy-go-lucky girl who falls in love with a man who uses her only for the physical pleasure and leaves her in a mental shock which in turn makes her a murderer. But Clara is very practical and ambitious. She chooses the way of prostitution to save herself from her step mother, but she does not want to end up with a pimp who would extract money out of her. She even manages to get Jayakrishnan, the male protagonist, like a firefly to the light, but she doesn’t want to be the reason for his misery. In Thoovaanathumpikal, Clara does not appear throughout the movie but it is she who drives the whole story.

Continue reading Padmarajan’s Clara – Part I

The ‘real’ sad state of Malayalam cinema

There has been a hue and cry in many blogs from Kerala about the sad state of Malayalam cinema. It is a fact that the mainstream movies being released these days are mostly junk and rejected by the audience. But is the state of Malayalam cinema too bad to cry that we are losing the hard-earned status of the best of Indian cinema? Or are we seeing only one side of the coin?

It is true that we do not have a Bharathan or Padmarajan these days who used to bridge the gap between art films and commercial films. But we should also check our attitude towards good films. How many of us who are now furious about the lack of talent in Malayalam cinema have seen Karutha Pakshikal by director Kamal? Kamal himself was so sad about the situation and remember it had one of the two super stars of the Malayalam cinema, Mammootty, in the lead role. There were lots of people complaining about scriptwriter-director Ranjith and the superhuman characters he made for superstars. But when he made a wonderful film such as Kaiyoppu, the Malayalee audience turned their back to the film (remember it had such a star cast with Mammootty and Khushbu). These movies were released primarily because there are KSFDC theatres or else it would have gone from theatres in the first week itself. Adayalangal, which has won several state awards this year, was gone from the KSFDC theatre in the first week itself (director M G Sasi had tough time finding distributors for the film) and director Jayaraj is now looking for help to release his latest film Gulmohar.

This, I say, is the sad state of Malayalam cinema. That we crib so much about the lack of good films but turns a blind eye towards them when they are released. That the film makers are not being able to release their films because there is no interest from theatre owners or distributors. That we never move from our armchairs at least to buy one ticket to see the movie and help the team who worked hard to make the film happen.

Tail piece: The maximum number of films selected for Indian Panorama this year is from Malayalam cinema which includes, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Oru Pennum Randu Aanum, KP Kumaran’s Akashagopuram, TV Chandran’s Vilapangalkum Appuram, Priyanandanan’s Pulijanmam, MG Shasi’s Adayalangal, M Mohanan’s Kathaparayumbol and Jayaraj’s Gulmohar.

(Image courtesy: Rediff)

Veronica Guerin

Wouldn’t you love, respect and worship a kind of woman like Veronica Guerin? If you haven’t seen the movie based on her life (which has the lovely Cate Blanchet as Ms. Guiren), you should. I’ve been watching it today for the nth time. Now check out this beautiful song which I heard first in this movie. This song, is called The Fields of Athenry, is an Irish folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine (1845-1850) about a fictional man from near Athenry in County Galway who has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food for his starving family. The song is sung in the movie Veronica Guerin, by Brian O’Donnell, then aged 11, a street singer in Dublin.

(Image credit:

Culture Unplugged: Call for writers

Culture Unplugged is a new media studio focused on enabling networks of socially/spiritually conscious content and its creators. According to them, they are dedicated to bring authentic voices of diverse cultures to global audiences. Voices that needs to be felt & understood, stories & films that connects people from different parts of the world.

Read more:

We are launching an online venue with weekly blog catering to our primary audience – film-makers, film-lovers, conscious creatives/citizens. This venue is to be launched in October/November 2008. Through this effort, we are not just building a platform/structure that simply publishes content, but one that raises consciousness of film-makers as citizens and unites people through their spirit.

Our wish is to adopt a voice that is: Mature, Noble, Pragmatic, Frank, Fearless, Fresh; truth-seeking, expansive & inclusive, sharp-focused, thoughtful & sensitive – holding compassionate viewpoint of humanity and disparate cultures.

We are looking for writers who wish to blog and engage with global audience in a dialogue through this online platform. These opportunities are for freelance contributions which can commence now. Compensation is based on expertise/experience and efforts required.

We believe your voice can provide invaluable inspiration & vigor to our audience. We have debuted recently with the launch of Asia and MiddleEast’s first online film festival of seen and unseen cinema.

Our festival partners are Barrie Osborne (Producer, New Zealand, 7 times – Oscar winner), Michael Pyser (Producer, USA, Several Oscar Nomination) and Shekhar Kapoor (Film-maker/Director, India, Oscar Nominated 2007). Now we are launching an online platform to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas, spirit and knowledge among storytellers, content producers, professionals from social/scientific arena and global audiences.

Also check out their online film festival section. The movies are fast loading and there are so many independent movies. A feast for people who enjoy independent movies.

ViBGYOR 2008

ViBGYOR Film Festival 2008

4th ViBGYOR International Film Festival is to be held at Thrissur on February 4th to 8th, 2009. The venue is Regional Theatre Campus, in Thrissur, Kerala. ViBGRYOR is a non-competitive film festival held every year in Kerala for the past three years. Documentary, Short Films, Music Videos, Animation, Spots and Experimental films are screened in the Festival.

ViBGYOR Theme Packages:

  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Dalit Reality
  • Indigenous People
  • Globalisation
  • Nation State
  • Fundamentalism v/s Diversity
  • Region Focus –Pakistan

Every year there is a theme as Focus of the year on which a National seminar is conducted and a substantial number of films are screened. The focus of this year is Food.

ViBGYOR is an initiative of the ViBGYOR Film Collective, which is an open coalition of various networks and groups, representing indigenous people, dalits, youth, and sexual minorities and addressing issues of war, conflict and peace, human rights, environment and development, culture and media and globalization.

ViBGYOR is organized by Chetana Media Institute, Nottam Traveling Film Festival, Navachitra Film Society, CenSE, GAIA, Moving Republic, Visual Search and others.

For more information, log on
Or contact 9447000830/9446529991/0487-2330830,

(Info via email from Santhosh Kumar)

Khan and Kher

I bought a couple of DVDs last week among which there was Apna Asmaan and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara. And I am so happy to have watched these two movies, not because of it’s craft (both has many flaws which could have been avoided to make them better) but for two finest actors of Hindi cinema. Two fine actors – Anupam Kher and Irfan Khan – who needs a big applause for their controlled and realistic acting skills.

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin MaaraIn Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara, directed by Jhanu Barua, Anupam Khers portrays a retired Hindi professor who has Alzheimers. Well, it is not clear whether it is Alzheimers or Schizophrenia because he shows signs of these two. He is a man of principles and passionate about literature. Now, the talent of Mr. Kher shows when he transforms from the normal stage to the dementia stage. This change is so subtle and Kher carefully handles the character without overdoing it. The scenes like when he begins to get upset are also showcasing his wonderful skill at mastering the character. There are Rajit Kapoor (another talented actor who has nothing much to do in this film) and Urmila Matondkar (who does a good job) but it is an all-Anupam-Kher movie.

The movie could have been done better though. Instead of saving the mystery behind the trauma of Professor Chaudhry for the climax scene, director choose to reveal it halfway through the movie. I wish if the director had saved it for the climax court scene, because that would give it a good twist at the end and make this movie beautiful.

Apna AasmaanApna Aasmaan is another Taare Zameen Par, but with a different situation, less tears and with lots of loose ends in the script. What saves this movie is the amazing performance of Irfan Khan. I haven’t watched any other movies of Irfan Khan, but this one makes me want to watch more of his films.

So go ahead, get the DVDs of these two movies. Watch it, not for the movie, but for two amazing actors and their wonderful performances.

(Image courtesy: