Abhishek K. Venkitaraman
A tale of forgiveness during heavy rains which symbolize both sorrow and longing, I think that could be the best metaphor I can use for this movie. When I watched Dor in 2006 directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, I fell in love with the movie instantly! How often did we see two strong female protagonists in a Bollywood movie back then? Little did I know that Dor was a remake of the Malayalam movie Perumazhakkalam,released in 2004. Now, not to say that Dor is any less of a movie. Dor is in fact, a perfect example of how remakes should be done. Well, coming back to Perumazhakkalam, for the non-Malayalam speakers, the word literally means “Peru: Big”, “Mazha: Rain”, “Kalam: Season/Time”. The title literally means the season of big/heavy rains. These heavy rains in the movie often symbolize sorrow, and longing and set the tone for this tearjerker. In 2004 the film won five Kerala State Film Awards and the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues.
Story and screenplay
Akbar (Dileep) and Raziya (Meera Jasmine) are happily married before Akbar goes to the Gulf for employment. There he meets and befriends Raghu Rama Iyer (Vineeth). By a twist in the circumstances, Raghu Rama gets killed and Akbar is blamed for it, and is now facing death penalty. The only way for Akbar to escape the sentence is to obtain a letter of forgiveness from Raghu Rama’s wife Ganga(Kavya Madhavan). This responsibility falls on Raziya. Will Raziya be able to convince Ganga for the letter of pardon? and whether Ganga will be able to forgive Akbar forms the rest of the story. The screenplay is linear, and the events unfold in a chronological manner. The scenes often become repetitive, with Raziya going to Ganga’s home trying to ask for the letter and Ganga’s family members insulting her repeatedly! But I guess, that’s the point of the movie, Raziya doesn’t give up even after being berated again and again. Love and Longing! Some scenes may look similar due to this but aren’t, the heart wrenching dialogues make up for it.
Art Direction, Music, and Cinematography
Shot in real locations in Kerala, there is not a sequence in this movie which feels made up. But as I have said in my earlier reviews, realism is something you sign up for in a Malayalam movie. The traditional houses of Kerala, the lifestyle in Kalpathy village where Ganga is shown to be residing, brought back a sense of nostalgia for me as my family hails from that region. The temple chanting of the priests in the background, is a stark contrast to the sorrowful reality which Ganga and Raziya face. The music is endearing with ‘Chentharmizhi’ being the best in the whole soundtrack. The picturization of this song deserves a special mention. As the song starts, Ganga is in her attic staring at a wedding procession in the streets as she looks from behind the window bars wearing a white saree. She loses herself in memories of her dead husband. Strangely, the songs don’t hamper the pace of the movie. There is hardly any scene in the movie when its not raining. This is not your Kerala which has backwaters and houseboats! The rain adds to the gloom of the movie and frankly, its tiring after a point of time. You long for just one happy moment.
When it comes to such Malayalam movies, its hard to fault the performances unless you are nitpicking. Meera Jasmine and Kavya Madhavan deliver one of the best performances of their career. As much as Meera conveys through her dialogue delivery, Kavya’s eyes speak of an unfulfilled dream. Their confrontation scenes are the best in the movie. All the supporting cast members including Dileep are at their best form.
Humanity or revenge? What comes first? What would you have done if you were in Ganga’s place? The themes of forgiveness and redemption are not new to Indian cinema. Yet, what is applaud worthy here is the treatment of these themes. Ganga is ostracized by her own community after she takes a decision. Yet, she stands by it and stands by justice, and she is moved by Raziya’s resolve. The two strong female protagonists of this story don’t give up and are bold enough to make their own choices and face the consequences. The incessant rain throughout the movie is a character in itself! As if the atmosphere is a mirror of Raziya’s and Ganga’s heart which are filled with grief.
Overall, Perumazhakkalam is a must watch for those who love tear jerkers and strong performances. Unfortunately, Perumazhakkalam is only available on Manorama Max. But do watch it if you get a chance.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.