Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Movie Review: Mathulikal

The 1989 Malayalam film "Mathulikal" is based on the 75 page Malayalam novel of the same name by Vaikom Mohammed Basheer. Mathulikal is one of the most cherished and well-known love stories in Malayalam. The story of the novel is semi-autobiographical. 

The movie begins with Basheer (Mamootty) being jailed for writing against the British. He is confined to a narrow space of a prison cell. The cells are separated by the presence of tall walls (Mathulikal). To combat his solitary confinement, he tries talking to a fellow inmate present in the other side of the wall which happens to be the women's cell. The lady from the women's cell who responds back to Basheer is Narayani and they start talking to each other. It is interesting to know that this film never reveals who she is or how Narayani looks like. Hence, he is also not aware of her age despite this, they fall in love with each other. Throughout the film, it is just her voice which is heard. It is these little conversations with her which help him sustain the torture and isolation of solitary confinement.

The film by Adoor Gopalakrishnan is carefully crafted with adequate attention on silences. Secondly, the pace of this movie is extremely slow yet it is an engaging viewing. The lilts and the intonations of the dialogues mouthed by Narayani in itself is one reason to follow the story. Secondly, it is one of the few movies where the voice is being used as the main prop without revealing how Narayani looks like. The film is made in Malayalam and yet do not limit yourself ignore this movie. Do watch it for the different style of storytelling and its faceless romance. 

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