They say, faith is a delicate thing. In his new film 'Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku', director Priyanandanan, takes a closer look at the politics of conviction and belief, and provides an unflinching account of how it could alter beyond recognition your life, as well as that of others around you.
Suma (Kavya Madhvan) lives her life in regret; at having chosen to elope with Vishwam (Irshad) against her family's words. Post marriage and two kids, Vishwam has metamorphosed into a brash drunkard, with a penchant for getting into petty squabbles and spending the evenings at the local police station. A brainwave makes Suma pretend one fine day, that she is the spokesperson of the local deity Kambakkattu Devi, and she finds her husband's alcohol addiction having disappeared. However, Vishwam and Suma herself can only gape open-mouthed, as she gets glorified in no time and rises to holy heights.
Priyanandanan time and again pokes fun at the most literate state in the country falling in a line behind the demi-gods who have sprouted like mushrooms all over. Sumangala Devi's rise to fame is rapid, and soon Maruthapuram is transformed into Sumangalapuram, a busy village where crowds throng to seek the goddess' darshan.
In perhaps one of the best written scenes in the film, a flustered woman who has been traumatized by her husband's abhorrent behavior, seeks the blessings of Sumangala Devi and begs her to provide a solution. Without batting an eyelid, the Devi whispers, that if the lady could be seated for a long while on the throne just like her, there might indeed be a way out of the misery.
The film that thus focuses on a very contemporary issue, is certainly not without its blemishes. There almost seems an attempt to commercialize the theme, perhaps thereby attempting to make it relatable to the masses even further. This is especially visible in the scenes that involve Suma's son in the latter half of the film. The boy, estranged from his mother, becomes visibly distraught and soon tries to meet up with her in a sequence that feels utterly obligatory.
The Ahsram as a whole, is too much of a caricature, and Sivaraman (Sreeraman) who runs it, is an archetypal villain, with henchmen and explosives at hand. His beckoning the Sanyasin to his chamber at night is a chestnut that has been done to death in similar films. The play of coincidences too is aplenty in the film, and it reduces the believability to a large extent, though it aids in keeping the viewers amused.
Kavya Madhavan, who has dubbed for the character herself, lives the role, and in the scenes that require her to shed her human traits and assume godly ones, she's almost a miracle. Her almost unique voice does play a major role in lending strength to the character further more, and. Irshad offers fine support in the role of a helpless husband, who can only watch as his wife rises to holy heights.
'Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku' offers a word of caution against rash judgments, and is more concerned about individual perceptions than about faith itself, as an entity. For the most part, it's unassuming and honest, and even when it gives in to a few cinematic obligations, it remains a deeply humane and compassionate film.