Sunday, November 8, 2009

Malayalam Film Gulmohar-A different Experience.

It is a fact that, for various reasons, going to a theatre to see a movie is becoming something to be better avoided.People in general and old generation in particular prefer to see a film in the comforts of their living room. It appears that, these days, films are seen more on laptops than on the wide screen .No wonder that recent statistics show a dwindling number of cinema theatres in state.
But in spite of the enforced reluctance to visit a theatre, sometimes, there comes a compelling urge to see a film on the wide screen. After all, one has to admit, that movies are made for seeing on the wide screen and there is no substitute yet for that experience. One such film I wanted to see was the Malayalam film 'Gulmohar' directed by Jayaraj. Its pre-release publicity and write-ups in film magazines and the fact that music director Johnson was composing music for the lyrics of Sri O.N.V.Kurup might have been the factors behind my desire. But, unfortunately, the film, to my disappointment, vanished from the local theatre with in a day or two before I could watch it.

Happily for me the film 'Gulmohar' was recently telecast by one of the regional channels. Its impact on the serious viewers may not be as strong as that of some of the other films reflecting the failed Naxal movement of the 60s in Kerala like Hariharan's 'Panchagni' and Shaji N.Karun's national award winning film 'Piravi'. But still 'Gulmohar' was a different and refreshing experience reminding me of some of the Shyam Benegal films of the 70sand 80s like Ankur,Nishant, Mandhan, Mandi, Bhoomika etc., What made it different from the run of the mill is the simple, down to earth way of telling the story and the cast of the film, viz., Ranjith[the director who gave us Thirakadha' and Nandanam], Meenu Mathews, Nishant Sagar, Siddique, Jayakrishnan etc who gave the film a refreshingly different look sparing the audience the monotony of seeing familiar faces. While the entire cast has done their job well, the subdued performance of Meenu Mathews, a new comer, as the female interest of the protagonist of the film was very impressive.

But what I liked most about the film was the music of Johnson . The song,' Orunaal SubhaRathri Neerunnu poyi nee'; ithile oru pookinavay vanna nee', penned by Sri O.N.V.Kurup sung by Vijai Yesudas and Swetha Mohan is one of the best songs heard in recent times reminding us the much apreaciated composition of Johnson viz., 'Onnu thoda
n ullil theeramoham' from film Yathrakkarude Sradhakku. The song was sung solo by Jayachandran and Jyotsna. It also reminded me of Johnson's song from the film Photographer,'Kadalolam novukalil' sung by Chitra. When good duets are rare nowadays, the song 'Orunal' with Johnson's class writ all over it, is a beautiful duet. Interestingly a very popular and award winning song , again a duet, ' Kolakuzhal vili Kettu ', from film Nivedhyam [music by M. Jayachandran.] was also sung by Vijay Yesudas and Swetha.This also brings to my mind another soulful duet, 'Bhasuri shruthi' sung by Sujatha and Sreenivas in Lenin Rajendran's 'Rathri Mazha ' with music by Ramesh Narayan.

It is a pity that the film Gulmohar , like many other films of this genre,viz.,Thalappavu, Orekadal, Rathrimazha ,Naithukaran ,Akale, Pulijanmam ,Ente Hridayathinde Udama etc., did not prove popular and commercially successful and abruptly vanished from theatres. The music cassettes /CDs/MP3s of Gulmohar were not available in local music shops at the time of its release even though downloaded /pirated versions were available .The song is also not heard in any of the endless reality music shows on regional channels. Changing times , changing tastes!
Tail piece:- A few endangered/extinct/obsolete/unfashionable names---- Art films, Parallel cinema,New wave cinema,Film society, Children's'film..........

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