Monday, 1 June 2009

Colours of Kanchivaram

I have only faint memories of the movies that I watched during IFFK, last year. I had told you all, watching 35 movies back to back in just seven days can be quite tiresome. But Kanchivaram is an exception. My brain has captured this one movie crystal-clearly! The colours of Kanchivaram were that enthralling.

I am a fan of Priyadarshan movies from the 90s. But I lost my admiration for him when I watched a disaster called Vettom. And numerous other badly remade Malayalam movies in Hindi. But still, the name of this movie on the list of film screenings struck a chord with me, and I knew I wanted to go for it.

Kanchivaram is set in the legendary location where the renowned silk took its birth and from where it continues to unravel mysteries of beauty. Although the film is set against the backdrop of a growing communist philosophy, the basic thread of the movie is a very personal experience of the protagonist Venkadam (played by Prakash Raj). It talks movingly about the tragedy of a weaver who creates numerous expensive sarees for the affluent, but cannot afford one for his own daughter. However, he goes ahead and proclaims when his daughter Thamarai is born that he will get her married in a pattupudavai. The struggles that he goes through to materialise that word is Kanchivaram in a nutshell.

Prakash Raj's performance is picture-perfect. His bond with his daughter comes off so well on the screen; you cannot help feeling empathetic. Each time he called out "Thamarai," my heart went out to him. His helplessness at various moments through the film - when he loses his wife and becomes a single father, when he has to forgo his ideals and steal from work and when he finally loses his daughter for whom he struggled all his life - will definitely move anyone humane.

Shriya Reddy as the demure wife also deserves applause. That is so starkly different from the real person she is. Each other member of the cast, for that matter, is so apt for their character and has delivered a crisp performance.

The cinematography (Thiru), the art direction (Saby Cyril), and the music score (M G Sreekumar) contributes equally to the perfection of this masterpiece.

The narrative style that Priyadarshan has chosen reminded me of Maniratnam's Alaipayuthe. But the interweaving of past and present has been done just as beautifully as in a silk saree. You sit through the movie with just one picture in mind - Venkatam's daughter in that beautiful red bridal pattuchelai that he has been weaving. And when you realize that the journey was to end with him doing the final rites for her wrapped in that very same drape, your heart sinks. It is *flawless* storytelling, pure magic.

The movie encapsulates both the bright shades of silks made at Kanchivaram and the dull hues of the sorrowful lives of the weavers who make them. Priyadarshan deserves international recognition for this magnum opus of his. I am saying this with absolutely no partiality that he is a Malayali. It is just beacuse the movie is a sheer gem.

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