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Lacklustre copy of a maverick movie

Film: Rathinirveda(remade)

Cast: Sreejith Vijay, Shwetha Menon, Shammi Thilakan

Director: T.K. Rajeev Kumar

Why would anybody aspire to remake a well-made film? The classics in art, literature, and cinema often beget interpretative, but creatively independent, progenies. Ingenious revision of a significant volume/film to pick out its thematic currency is not uncommon either.

In the Malayalam film industry, however, retelling would largely translate into carbon copy, minus the core. It seems the mimicry artiste in Rajeev Kumar called the shots in the current avatar of ‘ Rathinirvedam'.

Penned by Padmarajan and directed by Bharathan, it broke new ground in Malayalam cinema in the late1970s with its incisive portrayal of a teenager's coming to terms with his budding libido that eventually drives him into a tabooed bond with an affable spinster in the neighbourhood. The maverick film is credited with lifting the lid on Kerala society's sham through its honest portrayal of a teenager's natural sexual awakening. In the years after ‘Rathinirvedam' took the silver screen by storm, life — including that of the State's adolescents — has changed beyond recognition. Teen sexuality has taken on newer dimensions, too. Still, Rajeev Kumar retains the plot and period of his film's prototype, unwittingly thinking that a new cast, with the sole exception of K. P. A. C. Lalitha; and a new locale, the verdant Kuttanad; would probably make it appear contemporary. Wishful thinking when the original is very much alive as a watershed objet d'art! Rajeev Kumar's attempt is a study in miscasting, too. While Krishnachandran's Pappu and Jayabharathi's livewire Rathi seemed straight out from the rural Kerala of the 1970s, Sreejith's Pappu and Shwetha's Rathi, with their toned physique and intrinsic urban mannerisms, give away their true belonging. Their best of efforts notwithstanding, they are completely out-of-place. Copious amount of sensuousness — especially in those terrible song sequences — ascribed to Shwetha's Rathi may have helped the movie collect at the box office, but Padmarajan's Rathi was not meant to be a vamp. The film's only convincing portrayal comes from Shammi Thilakan, who plays the soldier-on-vacation. Juxtaposed with the finer details — like a glimpse of Pamman's ‘Vashalan', the Panama cigarette, and a Hema Malini calendar — that illustrate the period are contradicting costumes and a mix of dialects. The film unabashedly cashes in on Padmarajan's story eyeing the market. What is purportedly a tribute comes across as a slight. Why view a fake when you have the effervescent original?

S. Anandan

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