Naalu Pennungal Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2007
Nov 15, 2007 By C.P. Parashuram

"Naalu Pennungal" is Adoor Gopalakrishnan's 10th film in a career spanning 36 years. The ratio reveals his commitment to the subject he is dealing with and so obsessive is the commitment that it takes him a while to get over his last film. His latest work shows what such a commitment can accomplish.

The film is an adaptation of well-known Malayalam writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's four short stories, which deals with four females from different backgrounds. They have no connection with each other, but all four represent the shackled but strong woman. The director's approach gives a different kind of vitality to the two-hour narrative.

The stories involve a sex worker, a peasant, a homemaker and a spinster. The film goes on to talk about the situations they face and the decisions they take in their lives.

The film begins with the story of a couple surviving on the streets of a town in the 1940s. Kunju Pennu (Padmapriya), a sex worker, and Pappukutty (Sreejith Ravi) live as man and wife, but their relationship has no legal sanction.

The law catches up with them, they have no recourse but to be forced to live separately suffering an extra-legal punishment for their 'crime'.

The next story is about a farm girl, played by Geetu Mohandas, who does not mind that her marriage to an impotent man is broken off.

Then there is Chinnu Amma, a homemaker played by Manju Pillai who rejects the advances of her childhood lover and the desire to have children in order to protect the sanctity of her marriage.

The last track revolves around Kamakshi (Nandita Das), a dusky girl who cannot find a match, supposedly, because of her complexion and opts for independence.

Each member of the ensemble cast gets only a limited amount of time on screen, but all of them make an impact.

Padmapriya sparkles as the streetwalker. Nandita as the spinster hogs the limelight as her story is the longest and her character comes out as the most sharply etched in the whole film. Kavya Madhavan, as Nandita's younger sister, does a good job in a character with negative shades.

The master director treats a difficult theme with his usual deft finesse. In his hands, a film that could have meandered off into melodrama ends up as brilliant realistic cinema.

C.P. Parashuram