Tag Archives: Shyamaprasad Rajagopal

Elektra- malayalam film by Shyamprasad Rajagopal

“Elektra”, a film by Shyamaprasad Rajagopal , had not been released on the big screen because of some technical reasons. From the first frames onwards, as I watched it on Amazon Prime, I kept wishing it had.

The first thoughts that came to mind as the titles rolled on through the slow moving, fleeting images of a tiny puddle of water in a woody glade, the criss-crossing branches overhead, the tips of thin bamboo branches bending over the stream, the patches of brown wet earth around the closely growing trees, a barbed wire across which hung a few sprigs of tender green leaves lit up by the sun and others full of holes and hued with age, was how the element of music can imbue a scene with the emotions chosen for them, to set the mood so to speak.

Alphonse Joseph’s background scores definitely added a sense of sombre foreboding right from the very beginning.

Arrangements were being made for Abraham’s funeral. There is a mystery around his death as there had been, we learn , surrounding the deaths of many, many others in the “Amaram” tharavad, through their years of wealth and associated power. He had just returned from his estate in Jaffna, where he was rumoured to have a parallel life of love and lust, knowledge of which left his wife Diana cold and unresponsive to his intimacy on those occasions he chose to return to her. It also left her longing for love and a not so veiled anger towards her daughter Elektra, who adored her father and seemed to sponge away whatever tenderness he carried with him when he was with them. Diana’s resentment to both is accentuated by her strong feeling that they had been in complicity in sending away her son to Jaffna to be with Abraham. The son’s attachment to his mother, had been her sole rudder and with his going away, she felt closed in and drifting at the same time, hopeless and filled with longing to find an anchor in the swirling currents of despair.
That Diana finds release from the darkness of her existence in that huge sprawling house, which seemed to carry shadows of the inglorious deeds of its past occupants, in a secret affair with a cousin of Abraham, who had been kicked out of the family , creates further fury in Elektra’s mind, already seething with jealousy in having to share her father’s affections for her, with her mother.
The scenes go back and forth giving peeks into the disturbed mental frames of the mother and the daughter and for much of the time, the viewer is actually left guessing as to what is the truth of what they say and what is a figment of their illusions. Did Diana kill her husband towards fulfilling her aching desire for freedom and love? Did Elektra cause her father to have a heart attack by revealing the details of her mother’s extra-marital attachment?
Later , even when Abraham is interred, the complexities of the family he leaves behind, find even more bleak outpourings in words and acts. Elektra convinces her brother, who has returned from Jaffna , about his mother’s amorous trysts and about her suspicions of their father’s murder by Diana, by administering sleeping pills instead of his medicine for his heart problem. The scenes of that night are explicitly shown , but the audience is still not sure. Which of the versions is the truth? Did he die naturally of the agitation caused when Diana determinedly told him about her affair? Did she indeed hasten his death by giving the wrong medication?

The Amaram household , in spite of its grandeur, is covered in all shades of grey and black with very little light pouring in. The tones and filters used in filming the scenes ensures that the desolateness of the minds of its inhabitants seeps into you without respite. Demons lurk in all their minds.The daughter’s confused love for her father  sets her mother in her perturbed psyche, as th enemy. Her attempts at winning over his confidence in her the story about their mother’s misdeeds, their complicity in the murder of her paramour, Diana’s suicide thereafter, the son’s complicated attachment for his mother which then finds its way through incestuous hints towards his sister in perhaps a kind of transference, his tragic death …everything that follows adds darker and darker shades to the story .

You feel tense and sad with the awareness of the darkness that can take hold of human hearts in their longing for love, and their distorted perceptions of reality . You wonder about the extent of suffering each such individual goes through in the process and despair that their existences carry no chances of redemption , at least in the cases of those whose journey ends in the middle of those stretches of darkness.

There was another film by Ingmar Burgman I had watched long ago, about which i had written in an earlier blog.

I went back to that blog after watching the film, to the conversation between the father and son towards the end of the film. That gave me some relief.

Shyamaprasad’s films always touches upon all kinds of shades of human psychology and the myriad complexities of relationships. I have found almost all of them very, very interesting, urging one to reflect and review our roles of the judge.

Nayantara as Elektra and Mainsha Koirala as Diana, were superb.

Biju Menon’s character as the police officer , who is also close to the family, did not leave any imprint , but raised a lot of unexplained doubts .

Who was the caller who told him about Abraham’s death being a murder early that morning? It couldn’t have been Elektra because she didn’t seem to have left the house that night or early in the morning after her father died. And she needn’t have gone out to telephone . She could have called him from the landline in the house. If it was Diana’s lover, why ? What did he stand to gain ?

The poor chap, the officer, who does nothing that he should have done to check on the suspicion of murder, wasn’t even given enough scope to dwell on his secret affections for Elektra or may be the Director decided to go slow on that aspect lest the spectator gets swamped.

And of course it is such a pleasure to take note of my friend Sakhi Elsa’s costume designing for the film. Loved them all.

The film has English subtitles.

And now i am waiting for Shyamaprasad’s next film based on the book of Anees Salim,”A small Town Sea”

I have already read the novel , but keenly waiting to watch the story unfold on the screen with the favourite Director’s stamp on it.


Posted by on July 26, 2019 in Movies


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“Ivide”- a film by Director Shyamaprasad Rajagopal

My son had done the online booking for me, so there was no need to rush. Leisurley gardening  in the morning , leisurely  lunch  at noon  which I hadn’t cooked and leisurely lolling around listening to some old hindi songs later, I realised I had just about half  an hour to get to the Multiplex  and be seated and ready to watch “Ivide”, the latest film by Shyamaprasad  who is my favourite malyalam movie director.

So I didn’t get to wear  the intended  sari, a habit I’m almost losing touch with after leaving my job, as the underskirt had no string and there was no time to pull out one from another and string it through this one using a safety pin .Nor was there time to iron a pair of salwar-kameez …so I just got into one which didn’t need ironing , snatched a duppatta, which, once out of the house ,  I realised was a dark navy blue one instead of  the black , which was to match my salwar. But I really didn’t care as my spirits were high as is always the case with a Shyamaprasad film.

The skies were sombre and trees along the road were trembling and shedding their leaves….the ambience provided by the weather was a perfect prelude  for the crime thriller that “Ivide” was reported to be.

And I’m a die-hard crime-thriller fan.  I love watching TV serials which involve crime investigation, current addictions being “Monk” and “ Mentalist” on Star World.

I love watching them for the reason that the better scripted ones  exposes us to the darker shades lurking inside people  who are perceived most of the time as normal and harmless  . When the story unfolds  in ways that allows for a peek into the mental state of the crime-doer and his  or her  circumstances , or the reason for the crime ,  one does wonder  if we can be so damn sure that we would have behaved differently if we were in his or her shoes.

I’m not so sure that viewers who will go to see this film because it has been labelled a crime thriller , will be entirely satisfied.But  a fan like me  who would have gone to see it with or without any tags, because of past experiences of watching this Director’s  films , will not be disappointed.

The story, scripted by Ajayan Venugopal, who had also done the scripting for Shyamaprasad’s earlier film “English”, is set in Atlanta  and revolves around three main characters. Varun Blake, a police officer played by Prithviraj;  Krish Hebbal (played by Nivin Pauly), a self- made IT professional who has helped build up the company he works for  during the eight year span since his arrival in America as a software programmer and is  an aspirant for the position of CEO, which he thinks he deserves ,  and  Varun’s ex-wife ,Roshni Mathews, who has newly joined Krish’s firm enacted by Bhavna.  It also turned out that Krish and  were old schoolmates.

There are quite a few undercurrents  to the story which moves forward even as Varun tries to investigate the murder of another  IT guy whose relevance to the story is that he is an Indian immigrant in the land of dreams.  Varun’s broken relationship with Roshni  whom he still loves, his discomfort at the growing closeness between her and Krish, the manipulative tendencies winning over Krish’s integrity when he sees his future  being threatened  and Roshni’s  anguish when this aspect of his personality  becomes apparent  all play out during the course of the film.

This surely is the most well emoted role by  Prithviraj. He has slipped into the role of  the young man with his personal demons,  who as  a six year old orphan in India  had been  adopted by an American couple and who  grew up in that country , with the same  ease with which he carries off the body language and  diction  of a police officer adept in his job. One was left wondering at the cause of his explosive anger, which estranged his wife and left him to maintain  a physical distance away from her after the divorce came through , because of a restraining order , till it was explained in an exchange he had with his adoptive mother , some time after the interval. One may hold a view that his contained animosity towards his adoptive parents   may have been a matter of his perception and hence not justified. In fact, there is a hint that he himself may have questioned the validity of his angst , when the background narrative in his own voice, which acts as a thread to the story right from the beginning, wonders where in life he would have been , had they pointed to another child in the orphanage as their choice .

How many of us wonder about the pyschological confusions that such adoptions may possibly generate when a poor / orphaned  dark-skinned child has to grow up in a white-skinned dominated society  ?  How much do those societies  reflect on it?  I wouldn’t know , but the reverse is hardly the case , isn’t it….a white skinned foreigner being adopted and growing up in India? Would we have made it easier for them?

And what about the mindset of those who look upon the society they migrate to  as inferior  in morals or cultural values  and deserving of disdain as individuals , even as they partake of the opportunities of that land  to further their prospects in life?

And yet, in such and all other cases of human interactions, we do hold on to grudges , sometimes merely on the premise of our perceptions, don’t we?

Nivin Pauly’s role as the upwardly mobile IT immigrant from South India  ( the fact that his virtual conversations with his mother was always in  malayalam  from his side , while she spoke in Kannada, was slightly incongruent  or may be I missed the explanation) was performed well enough, but definitley did not match Prithviraj’s prowess. I guess youngsters sailing towards greener pastures that they perceive the developed world to be, can relate to the uncertainties that plagued a career like his , once they start trying to and succeed in getting a foothold there.

Scratch any scar of tension between two communities anywhere in the world and  at any time in history  and one will perhaps find the fear of being overpowered and being  left bereft , in either or both.  It is the same fear, which many a time plays out into reality,  that feeds the underlying and often overtly expressed animosity between an immigrant community  and the local  population. Why Indians fear the Bangladeshi  influx or why  the UP  “bhaiyyas” are resented in Maharashtra  or why the Bihari  and Bengali labourers are not open-heartedly welcomed in Keral a or elsewhere isn’t really different from why an American who has returned from the warfield in Iraq  is likely to feel when he finds that the job he takes up after returning to his civilian life in his homeland is lost because of outsourcing, is it?

These nuances of human relationships  are the forte of Shyamaprasad’s films  and “ivide” does  full justice to that genre.

The background score  was excellently merged into the scenes, softly and unobtrusively. I liked the two songs too.

Loved the way the camera took us along.

I also liked the way the film ended. Have always suspected the veracity of the quote ascribed to Buddha though , notwithstanding the fact that tis a beautiful one, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you


Posted by on June 3, 2015 in Movies


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