Tag Archives: Indian (Malayalam) Cinema



Esthappan is a 1980 Malayalam film written and directed by G. Aravindan. Esthappan is a fisherman, who lives in a seashore colony. He, who was once a fisherman now does no work other than helping people. He is concerned more about getting into the hearts of people where lay the real problem. His story unfolds through narrations by other fishermen about his miraculous acts. For some he is a seer and healer, for others a thief, or a crook. He is the medium through which they explain and understand the ambiguities and injustices of life. Esthappan, who turns into a mythical figure in the minds of the local people, and weaves into itself local myths and legends.
There is something about him-his waywardness or maybe the look in his eyes which gives rise to stories. The stories about Esthappan contradict one another. The film makes creative use of the episodic cartoon format.  Arivandan draws parallels with the Biblical story of Christ.  Shaji’s camera captures soft contrasts of light, faint rubbings of the gold in the dark hall of the catholic church, the hazy  blackness of a cave following upon the grain of sandstone walls.




Swayamvaram is credited with being the pioneer of the Malayalam New Wave Cinema. It is co-written and directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The film shows the life of a couple-Vishwam (Madhu) and Sita (Sharada) -who have married against their parents’ wishes and want to start a new life somewhere else.  He starts looking for a job , and aspires to be a writer and publish his own novel while  Sita looks for small jobs. Financial pressure leads to vishwam and Seeta moving out of their home and seeking a cheaper place to stay. Eventually they both end up in a slum with a prostitute as their neighbour.   Vishwam finds a job as teacher in a junior college but soon loses it and finally ends up working as a clerk in a small factory.

Adoor  Gopalakrishnan made his debut with this film.  Swayamvaram is an ancient tradition in which the girl was given a choice to choose her groom as she liked.   In the words of Adoor , this film is all about choices; the protagonists could have chosen any one of them but they chose what they had conviction in.  An important aspect of the film is its cinematography which aids the director in creating haunting beautiful images. There is creative use of sounds as letitmotif to create unique musical notes, something which was quite new to indian films then.  The great Bharat Gopi made his debut here in a very small role at the end. An impressive debut by Adoor.



 Kathapurushan is a journey exploring the recent history of the state of Kerala. Adoor has described it as “an emotional journey through time and history”.  The film begins with the protagonist Kunjunni’s birth and ends with the publication of his first novel, The Hard Consonants. Born in a feudal family, Kunjunni’s parents were separated leaving him deprived of paternal care and affection.  He grew up receiving love and affection of his mother ,grandmother and his friend Meenakshi-the domestic worker’s daughter. Kunjunni gets drawn towards leftist ideology during his college period. He believes that communism is the answer to healing all social hardships and inequalities. He joins an extremist Maoist group, providing it with intellectual leadership. After an attack at a police station, Kunjunni is arrested, but later acquitted of all charges. In the course of his life, he realizes that regardless of ideologies the nature of the people in power remains the same. In this period he also discovers his courage and his own voice to speak the truth. The film is made interesting by the use of a storyteller which sets the atmosphere of the film and gives it a folkloric, fantasy feel. The film is notable for its decision to keep the camera static for long periods of time, often on close up shots and usually without dialogue. The film is epic in scale but intimate in tone, covering nearly forty-five years of Kerala’s history.