The directorial debut of noted novelist and screenwriter Vasudevan Nair is an art-house movie about Kerala at the crossroads of modernisation. The ancient temple is neglected and in ruins, tended only by the old oracle, Velichapad (Anthony) and the man who picked flowers for its garden, Variyar (Kottarakkara). When the priest leaves to start a teashop, one of the trustees sends his cook’s son (Sukumaran) as the new priest, but the young man is not really interested in the job and forms a relationship with the oracle’s teenage daughter, Ammini. The oracle’s son is caught trying to sell the sacred sword and has to leave the village. When smallpox breaks out, the villagers return to the temple and prepare a big festival to appease the goddess, to Velichapad’s delight. But on the festive day, he discovers that his daughter has been seduced by the young priest and that his wife (Ponnamma) sells herself to a moneylender to feed the family. The film ends on an expressionist scene of the oracle performing the final ceremony of the temple, as he dances before the goddess, spitting at her for letting him down and striking his forehead with the sacred sword until he draws blood. He finally collapses, dead. Stage and film actor Anthony creates with great conviction a larger-than-life character made anachronistic by a changing world.
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This film received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and Kerala State Film Award for Best Film in 1974. Read More