wiki:Agraharathil Kazhuthai

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Agraharathil Kazhuthai

aka Agraharathil Oru Kazhuthai aka Donkey in a Brahmin Village 1977 96’ b&w Tamil d/co-p/co-sc John Abraham co-p Charly John pc Nirmiti Films co-sc Venkat Swaminathan dial Sampath c Ramchandra m M.B. Srinivasan lp M.B. Srinivasan, Swathi, Savitri, Raman Veerarghavan, Krishnaraj, S. Gopali, Rajan, Sri Lalitha, Lalithambal, Narasimhan, Thilairajan

Abraham’s 2nd feature, his only one in Tamil, is an acid satire told in an innovative, surreal narrative style making excellent use of repetitions for comic effect, on brahminical bigotry and superstition. It was shot around Kunrathur near Chingelpet and at the Loyola College in Madras. A donkey strays into the brahminical enclave in a village and is adopted as a pet by Prof. Narayanaswami (Srinivasan). Ridiculed by his caste fellows, he asks the mute village girl Uma (Swathi) to look after it. When the girl’s stillborn baby is deposited outside the temple, the donkey is blamed and killed. Guilt then induces the priests to start seeing miracles. The dead donkey becomes an object of veneration and is ritually burned. In a symbolic sequence recalling Bunuel, the fire spreads and engulfs the entire village. Only the girl and the professor survive. Although Brahmin bigots tried to have the film banned, it is more a morality fable about innocence (Abraham claimed Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966, as an inspiration) and guilt, recalling parts of Ajantrik (1957) by Abraham’s FTII teacher Ghatak. Although the film received a national award, the Tamil press ignored the film. Even in late 1989, Doordarshan thought it prudent to cancel a scheduled TV screening.