Nimajjanam – A Telugu film that won national award for Sharadha. After a short trip to…don’t know where…and returning back to Chennai we decided to spend the night at a friend’s house. While I thought that the decision was to avoid night travel I was surprised when my mother casually stated that the decision was due to Nimajjanam playing on Doordarshan. Here I will digress to give credit to my mother. She is the one who introduced me to books, films and music. Someone who never thought that I am a child, young to understand a complex story but took company in me to watch a film and share her reviews. I clearly remember my mother telling me that Nimajjanam is a movie that every woman should watch…a movie that will educate women that they could also be a reason for their sexual abuse. This she said when I must have been just 4 or 5 years old. Supermom, I wish to salute you for nourishing me with good cinema.
Coming back to Nimajjanam, I remember the movie for Sharadha’s stellar performance and cinematography. Images from the film are still fresh in my memory. The story from what I remember…Sharadha and her husband go on a pilgrimage to Kasi. While taking a dip at the holy Ganges with her husband, Sharadha drowns and dies. While it is seen as an accident by everyone, Sharadha actually lets herself drown as a punishment for losing her chastity.…she is in fact raped by a lecherous bullock cart driver during her journey from the railway station (don’t remember where her husband was then). The driver is tempted by Sharadha’s beauty when she sleeps unaware of her slipping sari revealing her cleavage. Sharadha ends her life by taking the blame on herself for the incident. On his way back to the railway station Sharadha’s husband takes the same bullock cart. When the driver hears about Sharadha’s death he is shocked and guilt engulfs him. And to add fuel to his guilt he crosses the place where he committed the crime. The guilt haunts him further and he dies…a scene which I can never forget. The camera from his point of view looks around and the huge tree that witnessed his crime even scared me. The film according to me was about sin and renunciation. I remember that it is a practice to renounce something after a trip to Kasi and river Ganga is where one takes a dip to wash away their sins. As a child I was wondering and still continue to figure out who the sinner was and what was renounced in Nimajjanam.
The Last Emperor. A film that had world wide recognition was on Doordarshan again. My mom told me that I should watch the movie. She said it had won many an Oscar and the little boy has done an excellent performance. There I was staying awake to watch the late night film while mom and dad were sleeping. The film left me spellbound. It was above and beyond belief. It would be right to say that I started realizing the meaning of editing and background score after my tryst with The Last Emperor! I also have some other fond memories of the film...the live censorship of some scenes. My all progressive mom’s split personality woke up from her sleep exactly at the famous kissing scene and asked me to switch off the TV for a few minutes. I was too young to understand or question why she asked me to do so but obeyed and resumed watching after a few minutes. The censorship popped up at two other scenes as well! Years later, much to my mom’s embarrassment, what I remember the most is the kissing scene.
Antarjali Yatra…a film that made me a fan of Shatrughan Sinha and Bengali films. A bed ridden invalid octogenarian counting his last days has doting sons who will do anything to get their dad longevity! Though they set up a tent and shift their father to the river bank as his death was nearing they don’t let go off any option to keep their dad alive. They fix his marriage to a poor young girl with hope that her mangalsutra will make him live longer. Post marriage the newly wedded couple are left alone at the river bank. The old man with kajal decorating his eyes even tries to raise his head to kiss his bride. Alas he could only aspire! Shatrughan Sinha plays an undertaker in the film and turns out to be the only companion for the new bride. The movie ends without giving a solution to the story with a flood washing away the river bed.
Ninaivugale Neengividu is a Tamil telefilm. I don’t remember the film as a whole but two scenes are deeply etched in my memory. It is the story of two women. One a rich, young and pretty girl and the other a middle class mother of two. The former meets with an accident with the only alive part in her body being her brain. The latter if I am not wrong is brain dead. And then the obvious brain transplant takes place. The mother of two essayed brilliantly by Jayabharathi, wakes up with memories of the young girl…I still cannot forget her scream when she looks at herself in the mirror. She then proceeds to her(!?) bungalow while her husband (of her flesh and bones) stands outside the gate and looks at her with mixed feelings.
These four films among many others, I would say left a lasting impression in my inquisitive mind during my formative years. It made me think that there was more to look forward to in cinema than mere star cast. Thus grew my fetish for cinema…an insatiable thirst to watch films from across the globe. And I would proudly state ‘A film a day will keep me awake’