Padmarajan’s Clara – Part II

[ This post is the second of a two-part post that tries to explain how Clara (from the movie Thoovaanathumpikal by Padmarajan) stands out as one of the most powerful woman characters of Malayalam cinema. The first part is here. ]


[Continued from here]

Clara begins to give shock treatments to Jayakrishnan’s ego from the night they first make love. She tells him that she already knew that Jayakrishnan was not whom he pretended to be. Perhaps it did not matter to her whether ‘He’ is a Jayakrishnan or a Punnoose as she is all prepared to see more of such faces in her life to come. But she is amused by Jayakrishnan’s honesty in love when he proposes to her. She could easily say “yes” to him, but she doesn’t say that. Here she leaves it for us to guess. Is it because she thought that it could be just a result of their physical union? Or is it because she thought that she wouldn’t fit into Jayakrishnan’s world, considering his social and family status? Or is it because she was ambitious and did not want to end up with the role of a mistress at that time? It could be either one of these or all. We don’t know.

Clara leaves the place in silence, in the next morning when Jayakrishnan is not around. She doesn’t want to stay even after Jayakrishnan says that his proposal was not prompted by previous night’s boozing and he is serious about it. We see a shattered Jayakrishnan standing in the empty hotel room after he realizes that Clara has left. He just lost the first woman he ever loved, had sex with, whom he wanted to make his partner for life. At this moment, Clara becomes the most complex and over-powering character of the film than Jayakrishnan.

After some days, Jayakrishnan receives a telegram message from Clara. There is rain in the backdrop which reminds him of Clara. The message says that Clara is coming to town and would like to meet him. By this time Jayakrishnan had fallen in love with another woman – Radha – who is a modern and educated girl. Even though his love for Radha has grown stronger, nothing can stop Jayakrishnan from meeting Clara. So he meets her in the railway station in an early morning, they take a walk around the town and spends a night together. Clara is a little sentimental this time.

Continue reading Padmarajan’s Clara – Part II

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