Melodrama that put Malayalam cinema on the map. Chambankunju (Nair) manages to prosper as a fisherman thanks to his daughter Karuthamma (Sheela) and to the man she loves, the Muslim trader Pareekutty (Madhu). In order to obey tradition, she cannot marry the trader and so she becomes the wife of the remote stranger Palani (Sathyan). Although Palani accepts that she never slept with the trader, the village does not believe it and Palani is censured. One day Karuthamma meets her old boyfriend again and they make love, even as Palani, out battling a shark on the high seas, dies in a whirlpool that is attributed to Kadalamma, the goddess of the sea, exacting vengeance for an infringment of prevailing chastity codes. The film ends with the dead shark lying on the beach. Known mainly for the remarkable performances of its entire lead cast (notably Sathyan), the film was made as a sprawling epic matching the scale of one of Malayalam literature’s most famous novels. The editing, done by Hrishikesh Mukherjee virtually as a salvation job for a production that had apparently got out of hand, is extremely tight, but the film still retains the frontier realism of a fishing community battling the forces of nature, myth and uncontrolled emotion as dictated by the script. Novelist Pillai’s highly mystical end in the book, as Palani battles the shark while his wife betrays him, nevertheless remains too complex for predominantly realist melodrama. Composer Salil Choudhury’s Malayalam debut was remarkably successful, and both songs and background score are integral to the scale of the drama.
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The film is based on Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's novel of the same name. Read More