Monday, February 07, 2005

Parinayam-2

The Movie:

The movie begins with a “gang” of sinister looking Namputhiris who are the “jury members”- moving towards the barn of a reputed Namputhiri Tharawaad. Some of them are almost chuckling in anticipation and glee because they foresee a few months of entertainment and feasts- besides being entitled to voyeuristic glimpses into a miserable woman’s private life! The convict- Mohini - waits in terror inside- she knows not what horrors she is to be subjected to in the coming days, and yet there is a serenity , a dignity , maturity beyond her young years on her countenance.

Mohini will be grilled with questions regarding her transgression, she has to remain hidden behind the door, murmur her replies and a maid servant would repeat her answers to the jury. The senior most jury member (played to perfection by the actor Thilakan), asks her questions with contempt and disgust oozing from every nerve and muscle…the other members too, are eager to get a chance in the questioning- but Mohini maintains a stoical , stubborn silence. After a vain attempt to get her to answer, the jury withdraws a trifle disappointed, but then their spirits are still high because a sumptuous feast awaits them at the main house , and they know that if Mohini refuses the answer, the trial was likely to last for a long time…

The jury has left, Mohini cowers to a corner of the shed, the maid servant is sympathetic and feels sorry for the young girl- but Mohini remains tearless- her past flashes before her eyes, and we are taken to a house agog with festivities…

Flashback :

Wedding festivities are in full swing in a reputed “Illom”-there is mirth and gaiety everywhere- but one can also hear suppressed chuckles, sniggers amidst the brouhaha- because the bride is a young girl barely out of her teens, and the brideroom was a senile old man old enough to be her grandfather. But nobody cares…Mohini, fully covered in a mundu, holding a palmyra umbrella, her winsome eyes lined with kohl is led to the marriage dias. She breaks into a child like smile when she sees children running amok to retrieve coconut pieces flung on the ground…there is music- the ladies of the house-“illom” are playing the “kaikottikkali” – a folk art- the song is also lilting-Mohini watches the proceedings with innocent curiosity.



It is night and Mohini is waiting in the nuptial chamber…she does not know what to expect, but she is nervous. Her doddering husband totters in unsteadily, looks at her from top to toe, admonishes her for something and then promptly goes to bed and falls asleep. Mohini and we, the viewers are relieved…Mohini takes a mat and lies down on the floor.
Suddenly, there is a commotion downstairs- the old man’s sleep is disturbed, he is enraged and he rushes downstairs- one of the senior wives was creating a ruckus- she was slightly off her mental balance, and the preceding events had taken its toll on the unfortunate woman- the old man takes her by the hair and thrashes her on the wall- she falls away crying- the oldest wife looks away unmoved, mumbling in anger and disgust- Mohini watches alarmed and confused…

Days flow one into the other un eventfully- Mohini blends into her surroundings and circumstances- she meets the son of the eldest wife- her step son who is older than her- let me refer to him by his real name- Manoj- He is a non conformist, social activist and is determined to eradicate senseless traditions, bring about a radical change in society- he works for womens education, emancipation- and hence a thorn and eye sore to the conformists- Manoj requests Mohini to not retreat into her cloistered life- he knows she is well read, and promises to get her papers and books to read- he keeps her updated with the happenings in society, and urges her to keep herself aware about the changes in society - Mohini is curious and amused. She is happy to be able to read …The narrow minded elders in the family view his actions with derision and suspicion…

Mohini remains cheerful inspite of her circumstances. One day, she is summoned to her own home and she leaves for her home escorted by a lady servant. On her way she runs into a young, upcoming Kathakali artiste-Vineeth-, who has also heard about her knowledge of the Art, besides, her father was a famous Kathakali actor himself- they get talking along the entire distance- and the young man is enamoured by Mohini’s beauty, intelligence.
During her stay at her home, Mohini is suddenly summoned back because her aged husband had taken ill. She rushes back to her marital home, but the old man had already expired. Mohini is too dazed to realize the implications of the situation- the neighbours and servants are sympathetic to her plight realizing that she was now doomed to a life of wretchedness. There is this scene where the wives of the old man are made to sit in the inner courtyard- they discard the various adornments of marriage- the “thali” or the mangal suthra- bangles…one by one the wailing wives remove their ornaments, Mohini too removes her “thali” serenely, stoically tearless, but there was not a dry eye among those who watched- there is the potential hazard of filming such a scene melodramatically, but M.T handled it so sensitively, subtly, aesthetically as only M.T can- the poignance reverberated in silent dignity…

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