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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bhumimalayalam(Malayalam Movie by T.V.Chandran)

Posted by
Venu K.M

T.V. Chandran is among the few Malayalam film makers who would never stop asking questions about the predicament of women in Kerala; pursuing many a dark alley of the past as well as the contemporary life where silent sufferings by women are accepted as naturally as life itself, Chandran undoubtedly raises disqueting posers in Bhumimalayalam too.
Actually the story line moves back and forth between the present and the past. Stories of six women in varying situations of extremely challenging moments of their lives are presented here.
An elderly mother and school teacher who witnesses the macabre scene of her son in his prime youth being killed by the hordes, representatives of hate politics never returns to the normal state of senses. Another young woman, the slain man's sister working in a far away place is no more able to work with dignity as her ostentatious employer tries to coerce her to yield to his sexual whims. Another young girl who is also employed in the factory meets the premature crash of her hopes pinned on a young man who had been awaited on his next leave from the military service to marry her. she loses her lover for ever, following an accident in which he gets killed along with his few colleagues. Here, marriage would obviously seem to liberate her from the status of a factory worker with meagure earning to that of a decent middle class housewife!
The fourth woman is an ambitious media woman in her youth. Though married to a man working far away in a gulf country, as individuals, both of them are expected to go by the patriarchal code of conduct of the Muslim household, in which her father in law would no longer accept her moving around with the camera as a media person. The husband is ultimately pressurised by the woman's in-laws to bid talaq on account her insistence to continue the job.
And we meet the fifth woman, who is an eminent sportsperson. Towards the beginning of the film , we see her practising jumps, dreaming for more and more heights of achievement . Alas, she eventually gets married to a business man; unbearable drabness creeps into her life. It becomes just like unending chores of cooking and cleaning, not just for the members of the family but also for the evening parties where her husband receives friends for drinking.
In the meanwhile, thanks to the efforts of her former school teacher and few sportslovers she gets an oportunity for undergoing fully sponsored and high level coaching in the branch of sports related to her field of excellence (long jump). After such a proposal being rebuffed by her husband, she ultimately breakes the marriage and escapes to her dream field of accomplishment!

As a film maker, Chandran has always been sort of the unique person with outspoken commitment toward a kind of 'dream left' . His idea of left is rooted firmly in the struggles of the working classes and landless peasants of Kerala, of course, belonging to a previous era.
Over the passage of time , living links to this tradition are nearly lacking thanks to the changed perceptions of politics and social life by the Left parties themselves. Nevertheless, Chandran doesn't want to cynically abandon his leitmotif of a dream left in the manner many of the Leftists as well as his counterparts in Malayalam cinema would do.
This can be seen as both as a strength and the weakness of T.V.Chandran's cinema. On the one side, it has the advantage of enlivening and maintaining the dreams of a society free from exploitation; on the other, it overlooks certain important structures of oppression and dominance. For example, representation of the relationship between a factory owner and his female labourer as sexually exploiting is too stereotypical; the very circumstances and settings in which the attempted rape figures in the film betrays lack of imagination and innovativeness and tendency to be influenced by cliches.
The scene in which husband of the sportswoman shouts at the gentlemen coming with proposals to offer her best training also is in bad taste. Even without shouting to the visitors saying that he would not allow his wife's legs to be publicly displayed , any 'decent' , softspoken and 'cultured' husband would have done the same thing! For the diehard defending of this kind of moral concerns, please don't blame the poor(drinking) businessman! Let's ask the male 'Leftists' instead, howmany of them would willingly send their wives for such a training that would help improve a housewife's/mother's excellence in sports!
This is where Chandran consciously or otherwise refuses to look beyond the structures of commercial production relations (where, undoubtedly are sexist biases operating) evenwhile he raises important issues of freedom of women. The normative assumptions about the standard family is kept intact and without being questioned here; as a result he seems to be desperately bound to place all the blame to the capitalist, or to a drinking and party-loving businessman.
This failure of acknowledging these factors (of oppressing of women) working from within is probably has become cause for his tendency in seeking fantastic escapes. The sportswoman's escape in this film is more a fantasy than a real one. The journalist woman who faces separation through talak, is also not backed by any identifiable social forces of change.

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values  

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