Abstract and like a haiku
Neermathalathinte Pookal has just won an award for the best telefilm. It is a love story, a nostalgic journey to childhood. The protagonist is Kamala Suraiya. PREMA MANMADHAN meets its makers
CAPTAIN AND HIS CREW The crew of 'Neermathalathinte Pookkal' at the location.
Madhavikutty aka Kamala Das aka Kamala Suraiya. The mystique of this woman, the poet in whom always thinks and speaks out-of-the-box, comes through in the telefilm, Neermathalathinte Pookkal which has just won two awards, instituted by the Kerala Film and Audience Council.
It won the awards for the best telefilm and best actress (Praveena). It is another feather in the cap of Amrita TV, which produced and telecast it. Sohanlal, a producer with this channel, directed it. "It is an abstract work. Scripted from Baliakala Smaranakal and Venalinte Ozhivu by me and Sreevarahom Balakrishnan, it is plain nostalgia," says Sohanlal.
"It is like a poem, beautiful. There are no dances as in films and it is made like poetry. So only beautiful minds can understand it". This is the comment of the real protagonist of the story, Kamala Suraiya.
The 40-minute telefilm is truly like a haiku, simple, with sentences no bigger than a few words. Yet it conveys the thought processes and the ideology of the writer that is Madhavikkutty. The story is no story either. It is emotion that is wrapped around in slow moving scenes, the mood predominating, not the action. For action is almost absent, only thoughts and their picturisation.
Neermathalathinte Pookkal is Praveena's show. She deserves the award, for the role is difficult to portray. The camera lingers on the face or eyes and she has to hold on to the emotion for long.
The film opens with the lead character walking in with a suitcase and a sling bag, holding an umbrella, taking in the sights hungrily, nostalgia in her kajal-lined eyes.
The director, Sohanlal.
The old locked house is opened, each step ringing in the good old days, when her grandmother was alive, and bits of dialogues are in the background with the lady going down memory lane, amidst the dust and cobwebs. The sounds of the anklets, chirping birds, sound of the pulley as water is drawn from the well and monologues create the ambience. Old photos from a trunk complete the nostalgia trip.
We learn that it has been 15 years since the lady stepped into the house. And then comes her consort. There is no indication that there is anything conventional in the relationship and a monologue strengthens the viewer's suspicion.
As if in a dream, the couple leaves in the morning, not before paying obeisance to the neermadalam tree, standing royally in the yard, its flower gently caressing the woman who longed for its touch.
Yes, the tree is the same one at Punnayurkulam, now mired in controversy after the poet gifted it to the Sahitya Akademi, confirms Sohanlal.
But the house in which the telefilm was shot is in Cherplassery. For Madhavikutty's real house does not stand there anymore.
Praveena oozes charm and aristocratic beauty, the nose ring standing out, leaving no doubt whom she portrays. Dressed in flamboyant colours and revelling in the loneliness, to be able to relive the past... in the house, in the yard, in the pond and among the trees, she brings out the poet's state of mind remarkably well. Only, Praveena slips when it comes to the dialect. It is unmistakably Central Travancorean and not what Madhavikutty speaks.
Praveena, leading lady
Udayan Ambadi's camera is a treat and so is C. R Chandran's sound mixing. The mood is kept intact: No cacophony with silence given its due. Ramesh Narayanan scores music while Sasi Menon has done the editing. Art is by Rishi.
Kishore Sathya plays the small male lead. While Baby Gowri has a few scenes.
Sohanlal is a web designer who strayed into television right from his student days. He has done programmes on Akashavani and Doordarshan too before his present stint at Amrita. His earlier telefilm was Pedakam, which also won a few awards.
He is now busy planning a reality show for Amrita.
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