Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ദൈവത്തിന്റെ വികൃതികൾ (Daivathinte Vikrithikal) (1992)

Director: Lenin Rajendran
Writers:  M. Mukundan (Novel), Lenin Rajendran
Cast:       Raghuvaran, Srividya, Thilakan, Malavika
Language: Malayalam

The film tells the story of Alphonso, a man who chooses to suffer a slow, torturous life in his little village, Mahe, in preference to fortunes and pleasures away from it. It starts in 1954, the year in which 230 years of French Colonial rule ended in Mahe and Alphonso, who worked as a magician for French audience, had the opportunity to migrate to France. Many Indians who had considered themselves as belonging to Francophone culture opted to do so but Alphonso is in love with his land Mayazhi and thinks that he would be able to make a living there even though his audience have left. This turns out not be the case as they struggle to make ends meet.

I went to Mahe only two days back and it was kind of a 'Baader-Meinhof' experience when this film tuned up on TV.  I had seen it years back without understanding much of it. Mahe is a place which has not retained much of its French history unlike Pondichery. Film is an adaptation of M. Mukundan's novel with the same name and is considered to be a sequel to his other work 'Mayyazhipuzhayude Theeranagalil'. Alphonso faces alienation in his own land from people who think of him as a foreigner due to his Francophone culture. Film dwells upon the meaning of term ethnicity, as his own love for the land is contrasted with other natives who had gone to France and came back rich and act like what we call derogatorily in Kerala as 'Puthanpanakkar' (Newly rich). The way he reacts to the events on the film is also in a much more European way (libertarian) and not the traditional Indian Patriarchal manner. 

The story had so much potential but the film is not very good. I haven't read the novel to comment on the source material but the film suffers from a poor script and not very good acting by some of the principal characters. It will be quite difficult for an actor from Kerala to portray the Alphonso character and that would explain the choice of Raghuvaran for the role of protagonist. Malavika, who plays the role of Alphonso's daughter Elsy, is also not from Kerala and her struggles with the language is also a burden for the film. Dubbing is quite common in Malayalam films, but when you have two of the main characters being dubbed by other people, the problems with lip sync stick out like a sore thumb. Am quite surprised to find that the film won numerous Kerala State Awards.

Rating: 2/5