Friday, October 10, 2014

സുകൃതം (Sukrutham) (1994)

Director: Harikumar
Writer:    M. T. Vasudevan Nair
Cast:       Mammootty, Gauthami, Manoj K. Jayan, Shanthikrishna, Narendra Prasad
Language: Malayalam

Mammooty plays the role of a writer/journalist, Ravi, who is suffering from blood cancer. He decides to go back to his family home, to spend his last days, where his aunt & uncle lives. Everyone in the family adjust to the fact he is going to die soon only for him to recover from the cancer miraculously through alternative treatment.  He finds out that this turn of events is an inconvenience for those who are close to him as all of them had adjusted and made plans for life after his death.

I remember watching it on Doordarshan during my schooldays and I used to hate when they opt for ultra serious films like this. Blood Cancer was an epidemic in Malayalam Cinema those days and as soon as they show someone with blood coming from nose, audience themselves can make the diagnosis. Another frequent event was main characters dying from road accidents and people used to watch with baited breadth whenever the director shows an extended shot of characters driving with special focus on wheels. 

Death/dying is the central character of the film with focus on the behavior of people who are in and around the central character. Cancer is something that is left out largely in Hollywood and 50/50 when it came out was commended for tackling an oft neglected topic. So it is good to see that a Malayalam film had tackled the subject so brilliantly that early. Cancer is an ailment that pretty much guarantees death and is a perfect plot device to tackle the topic of dying and how it affects relationships. The film takes it further by complicating everything by having the patient recover from the situation only to discover that everything around him has changed in a bad way. Ingmar Bergman's 'Cries & Whispers' is one which portrays the pain and indignity associated with death in a harrowing manner. In this film, Ravi's response also carries some indignity especially after he recovers. One minor drawback of the film is the naivety shown by him in some situations which does not sit well with the intellectuality of his character. Another thing is they could have done the last act with a little more subtlety. Special mention for the brilliant Narendra Prasad who is always a forceful presence with his amazing voice and dialog delivery. He plays the role of the doctor and the explanation for the recovery is given in a convincing manner because plenty of things associated with human body and its mechanisms are still a mystery. Film relies on the popular adage that when it comes to cancer, plenty of things depend on how the patient respond to the reality of their situation.

The film is written  by the ever dependable M.T Vasudevan Nair, the most recent recipient of J.C. Daniel award. It is not directed by M.T's frequent collaborator Hariharan, but by  Hari Kumar whose other films include Jaalakam, Udyanapaalakan and Swyamvarapanthal. An interesting trivia about the film: It was produced by Mr. Atlas Ramachandran who has become a sort of cult figure among Malayalees with his characteristic appearances in Atlas ads.The film won the national award for best film in Malayalam for the year 1995.

Rating: 4.5/5