A story mapping good/bad brother relations on to employer/worker relations. The delinquent Rajan (Sathyan) loses his girl Radha (Ambika) to his more serious brother Gopal Pillai and is eventually ordered out of the parental home by his mother. When Rajan is ambushed and beaten, a Harijan girl he once molested, Chellamma (Kumari), nurses him back to health and humanises him. Workers, led by Vasu, who also assisted Rajan, are persecuted and attacked by the ‘good’ brother who nurses old jealousies and believes his wife still to be in love with Rajan. Vasu organises a strike and Rajan is blamed by his brother for knifing one of his thugs. Overcome by the affection the people seem to have for him, Rajan becomes ‘good’ and turns himself in to the police. Kariat’s first major film adapted a Thoppil Bhasi play to inaugurate a uniquely Malayali brand of political melodrama, in which existential aimlessness is extended into a pervasive sense of guilt as feudal institutions crumble and political activism becomes a form of atonement for bad faith. The film was actively supported by the Kerala CPI, with many of its members acting in and otherwise helping with the production. Vincent’s remarkable camerawork sets the tone of the film from its opening scene, in which Rajan lights a cigarette in darkness as he aeaits and then molests the harijan girl. Gopalakrishnan’s melodrama Mukha Mukham (1984) is a retrospective comment on this tradition of melodrama as much as it is on the radical political history it chronicles. Sathyan’s remarkable performance as the delinquent younger brother was later to extend into the definitive element in Kariat’s directorial signature (cf. Chemmeen, 1965).
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This film is an adaptation of the popular stage play written by Thoppil Bhasi. Read More