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Citizen sans a country

K.K. GOPALAKRISHNAN

`Pardesi' depicts the agony of a Malayali who becomes an alien in his own country on account of the Partition.



A LONELY PATH: Mohanlal as Valiyakathu Moosa in `Pardesi.'

It was a treat for film buffs of Ottapalam who gathered to see Mohanlal on the sets of `Pardesi.'

They were taken back in time to the late Sixties. The local Public Works Department guesthouse was converted into a police station in Malappuram.

The scene showed the Malappuram District Superintendent of Police (DSP) informing Valiyakathu Moosa that he was going to be deported to Pakistan. Mohanlal brought to life the distraught Valiyakathu Moosa who had become an alien in his own country. The role of the Malappuram DSP was enacted by Ottapalam Sub-Collector, Dinesh Arora.

It was a transformation for Dr. Arora, who had also acted in `Tanmatra' as one of the members of the Union Public Service Commission.

"It was a great experience to act with Mohanlal," said Dr. Arora.

Picturesque locale

The Shoranur-Ottappalam belt is blessed with many picturesque locales that have been depicted in many Malayalam films.

Film director and former MLA P.T. Kunjumohammed has selected this belt to narrate the story of his film `Pardesi.' It tells the story of a few unfortunate Malayalis who were rendered homeless by the Partition. Neither India nor Pakistan was willing to accept these people as its citizens.

After Ottappalam, the crew will shift to the Thar desert in Rajasthan to shoot the next sequence of the film. Agreeing that it may be called a political film, Kunjumohammed, who is the director of the documentary `Ariyappedatha Malappuram' (Unknown Malappuram), said that this film had been in his mind for the last few years.

The story of `Pardesi' unfolds though the life of 80-year-old Valiyakathu Moosa. Mohanlal portrays the character during three stages of Moosa's life; at 35, 60 and 80. Moosa's quest for a job had taken him to Pakistan. As he chose to stay in Pakistan during the Partition, he is viewed with suspicion when he attempts to returns to his homeland, India. While he is treated as a citizen of Pakistan in India, Pakistan authorities treat him as an Indian citizen.

He ends up being shuttled between the two countries.

Through this film, Kunjumohammed attempts to correct the misconception that Kerala was spared the trauma of Partition as it is located deep in the South.

Eye-opener

"This film is an eye-opener to me in several ways; as a person from Chandigarh, I thought that Partition had not affected Malayalis," said Dr. Arora.

There are three lead female characters in `Paradesi.' While Swetha Menon, the heroine, acts as Moosa's wife, Kavya Madhavan dons the role of a journalist named Usha. Lakshmi Gopalaswami appears as Khadeeja, Moosa's cousin who is married and sent to Pakistan after the Partition, a practice that was not uncommon in Malappuram until recently. Jagathy Sreekumar acts as Karadan Abdul Rahiman and T.G. Ravi as Usman. The cast includes Cochin Haneefa and Sreeraman.

Seasoned cinematographer K.G. Jayan handles the camera of `Pardesi,' produced by A & A Productions and edited by Don Max. Gireesh Menon is the art director. Make-up is by Pattanam Rasheed and Velayudhan Keezhillam is the costume designer.

Ramesh Narayanan and Shahabas Aman are the music directors of the film. The sensitive issues raised by the film have kept `Pardesi' in the news since the day of its launch in Thiruvananthapuram.

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