Monday, 20 May 2013


Parinayam - a Malayalam-language film directed by Hariharan and the story written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair. The movie won four National Awards, Best Screenplay, Best Film on Other Social Issues, Best Music Direction and Special Jury Award for Cinematography; it also won several Kerala State Film Awards. The central characters are played by Mohini (as Unnimaya), Manoj K. Jayan (as Kunjunni Namboothiri, the reformist) and Vineeth (as Madhavan, upcoming Kathakali artist).

The story-line of Parinayam is loosely based on the story the Smathavicharam of Kuryeddath Thathri (a real life incident that happened in Kerala). The stories, entitled Brashtu written by Matampu Kunnhudhan and Goddess of Revenge by Lalithambika Antharjanam would help you learn of Thathri's story. Smarthavicharam was a ritualistic trial of a Nambudiri woman and fellow male adulterers who were accused of illegitimate sexual relations. If the accused women was found guilty, she and the men found involved with her (known as Jaaran) were excommunicated or outcast (Bhrastu) and banished.

The movie is based on the theme where a Nambudiri woman, Unnimaya, a girl in her teens, is married of to Palakunnath Namboothiri, a man who is in his sixties, as his fourth wife. Unnimaya is unable to adjust in her new house and the orthodox practices create an atmosphere of difficulties. There is a scene which shows how the wives too envied each other and how the husband proved his ill power over the helpless women. The sudden death of Unnimaya's husband makes her life more lonely and she is subjected to follow all the rituals that a widow must practice through the rest of her life. The film also shows how the widowed women were seen as a jinx to other holy rituals and thus they were not allowed to participate in such rituals.

Unnimaya's life then sees a brighter side when she meets Madhavan, an upcoming Kathakali artist. Both the young couple fall in love with each other and Unnimaya gets pregnant. The news of her having an affair shocks all the people in the village and she is subjected to the hardships that one faces until she confesses her fault and tell the name of the man who violated her. Unnimaya, initially is seen as a very submissive and a meek women, she too wishes to see the shades of colours that could brighten her life up but she her fate forces her to only two colours, the white that she wears and the black that surrounds her. When she confronts Madhavan and questions him as to when will he take her away from all these atrocities, Madhavan refuses as he is scared to get banished from the grounds. Unnimaya learns of his cowardliness and this takes a turn of events. On the next day, when Unnimaya is questioned, she confesses that she is pregnant and she has no guilt in accepting it. She tells that she is still pure and doesn't tell the name of her violator; the people who hold the Smarthavicharam banish Unnimaya.

Unnimaya then seeks shelter in Kunjunni Namboothiri's (the reformist) house. Madhavan realizes his mistake and wishes to return to his beloved. When he approaches her, she doesn't approve of him and tells that the child that she is bearing is not that of Madhavan's but is that of the heroes (Madhavan used to visit Unnimaya in the costumes of Lord Rama, Arjuna, etc.) and thus, rejects Madhavan from her life. This decision of Unnimaya shows the rebellious nature against injustice done to her and her rejection of her beloved shows that she is brushing aside the whole idea of the importance given to a 'father' and the two-parent upbringing.

Parinayam is a movie that shows the life of the Antharjam women in all details and the injustices done to them. It subtly hints at the patriarchal dominance that was prevalent in all totality in Kerala. Overall, the movie is an informative one and with a sensitive heart, this movie can prove to be a seed of reformation in us somewhere deep down in our consciousness.


Arun said...

Hi Sorry for the delay in writing a comment, I was on holiday so didn't get time to write. I didn't watch this movie, but sure will try to in case I get hold. Your write up is surely interesting one.

Suhasini Srihari said...

There is no need for any apologies Sir! Do watch this movie at your leisure! :)

Shivani Naik said...

Very interesting and informative article!

Suhasini Srihari said...

Thank you Shivi! Nice display picture btw! :D

Vivek M.V said...

Hello Suhasini

Good write up as usual! I would like to know how you came across this film and what made you watch it. I am asking this since this is your first Malayalam film review. By the way watch Kaliyattam by Jayaraj. Since you are an avid reader,the film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello and is a classic. Keep writing:)

Suhasini Srihari said...

Thank you Vivek! I have a text related to 'Antharjamas' in my syllabus and while doing a research I came across this movie, also this was mentioned by my teacher in the class. And I shall watch 'Kaliyattam' asap! :)

souixsie said...

Nice review. A long time ago I saw a B&W Malayalam movie called Brashtu based on the story by Matampu Kunjukuttan. I was a teenager then and couldn't speak or understand Malayalam very well - still don't - however, I do remember the dramatic scene towards the end where the heroine is naming the names of her many well-connected lovers, when the King (?) stops her before she mentions him. As I recall, she undertook this form of revenge against her patriarchal society because she was raped by her husband's older brother who exercised the Namboothiri version of the "droit du seigneur" on her wedding night. It was very powerful and like a Greek revenge tragedy; although less bloody than Medea.

Suhasini Srihari said...

Thank you Souixsie (I hope that is your real name), for reading through my blog post. And thank you for mentioning about 'Brashtu' - I shall try getting the movie and watch it. :)

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