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1995 107’ col Malayalam d/sc/co-p Adoor Gopalakrishnan pc Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK, Adoor Gopalakrishnan Prod. co-p Tokiuchi Ogawa c Ravi Varma m Vijayabhaskar lp Vishwanathan, Mini, Aranmula Ponnamma, Urmila Unni, Jagannatha Varma, Narendra Prasad, Babu Namboodiri, Lalitha, Ravi Vallathol, Mukesh, P.C. Soman

A dramatisation of Kerala’s history since the onset of the Independence struggle, this film narrates the life of Kunjunni (Vishwanathan), perennially pining for his absent father but warmly looked after by the women in his family, and especially close to a servant’s daughter, Meenakshi (Minni). Uncle Vasu (Prasad) is the activist in the family, first as a Gandhian independence fighter, then as member of the Kerala Communist Party. At university, Kunjunni also turns towards the CP and witnesses the first-ever democratic election of a Communist government in 1959. However, the government’s land reform measures drastically impoverish his family. Turning to a Maoist group and taking part in their naxalite insurgent activities including terrorist attacks, Kunjunni is eventually arrested and tortured by the police until a court confirms his innocence and orders his release. The disillusioned Kunjunni then establishes a life of quiet domesticity with Meenakshi until the wayward uncle re-emerges, now dressed in saffron robes and claiming to have espoused a life of spiritual values, all of which does not prevent him from making serious financial claims on Kunjunni. The solution arrives when a rich parvenu buys Kunjunni’s house. The film depicts with finely judged, dramatic and occasionally ironic tones the twists and turns in Kerala’s recent history and its elaboration of a democratic social system. Kazhakam 1995 95’ col Malayalam d/co-s M.P. Sukumaran Nair pc Rachana Films p T.N. Sukumaran co-s M. Sukumaran c Ashwini Kaul m Jerry Amaldev, Kaithapram lp Urvashi, Nedumudi Venu, P.C. Soman, Valsala Menon, Ravi Vallathol, Kukku Parameshwaran, Mullanezhi, Mukundan, Master Mohan Nair, having worked with Gopalakrishnan, returns to the mother-son relationship adumbrated in his first feature Aparahnam (1990), with this bitterly ironic tale of a woman’s religious mania, a variation on the theme of Radha and Krishna. The poor villager Radha (Urvashi) becomes unbalanced with grief when her husband and son die. Going to live with her mother (Menon), the two women derive some income from pilgrims visiting the local temple, an institution representing a complex knot of contradictory currents: indolence and moral corruption in the shape of its guardians (Venu, Mullanezhi) as well as traditional ideologies while remaining an important conduit for contact with outsiders. When the teacher Nandini (Parameshwaran) arrives to visit the temple with her young son Kannan (Mohan), the distraught Radha latches on to the son imagining him to be Krishna. When Kannan falls ill and dies, Radha’s delusional mania, the only source available to her in an impossibly constricted and oppressed situation, overwhelms her.