Friday, March 25, 2005

Meghamalhaar- story of another mallu movie.

As the movie begins, we see a lady –Nandita Menon and another man- Rajeev – waiting at the counter in a bakery to collect B’day cakes for their daughter and son respectively. Both give each other just a cursory glance and go their respective ways after collecting the cakes.

Predictably, the cakes had changed hands- i.e: the cake meant fot Rajeev’s son had been given to Nandita and vice versa. Phone calls are made, both go back to the bakery and exchange the cakes. Period.

Rajeev is an advocate, his wife Rekha works in a bank. They have 2 children and lead a very happy domestic life. Rekha’s constant crib being that she has to travel daily in the local train to her place of work. Her weekends are set aside for catching up with lost sleep. Rajeev is an indulgent, affectionate husband which is well reciprocated.

Nandita is a fairly known creative writer and asst editor in a reputed Magazine house. Her husband is in the Middle East. She lives with her father-in-law and her daughter. Her husband calls regularly and keeps assuring her that he would soon be coming home for good. He tells her that his colleagues are her fans and yet somehow he cannot manage to read her stories but likes to gaze at her photgraph that invariably accompanies her stories in the magazines.

Rajeev has an advocate friend- Bhoominathan who keeps praising Nandita’s stories, and when Rajeev sees her photograph in a magazine, he realizes that it was her whom he had met at the bakery. Curiosity perks up and Rajeev reads Nandita’s stories and likes her writing.

One day, Rajeev has to go to the hospital because his elder brother had been admitted for cirrhosis. Incidentally, Nandita also comes to the same hospital because her father- in- law is admitted there after a mild attack. Rajeev notices her sitting outside the ICCU, ponders whether to talk to her, hesitates, then goes to meet her. He reminds her of the bakery confusion, also mentions that he had read her stories and liked them too. Nandita does not speak much, just smiles.

Sometime during the night, Rajeev wakes, decides to get a cup of coffee. He notices Nandita dozing on a chair outside the icu. Rajeev goes to the canteen, was abt to order a cup, a thought strikes him- he goes back to the room, takes a flask- one can see the constant deliberation on his face- he is not too sure if he should- then finally decides. He gets a flask full of black coffee, goes back and offers it to Nandita. She is hesitant at first, then accepts. Rajeev mentions that he was unable to get hold of the latest edtion of the weekly magazine in which Nandita’s story had appeared. Nandita thanks him for the coffee, then gives him the magazine copy.

A few weeks/ months elapse. They run into each other again, this time at the advocate office. Nandita had accompanied her friend – another writer-Saudamini-who had to see an advocate to apply for divorce. Nandita enquires after the health of Rajeev’s brother and he informs her that he was no more. Nandita feels awkward… and is at a loss for words…they are still formal in their talk- the way they address eachother…

Rajeev calls Nandita and thanks her for reviving his interest in books. He had lost touch with reading after setting up his practice. Rajeev buys Nandita’s collection of stories and enjoys reading them. One of the stories was titled “Meghamalhaar”- which makes Rajeev say that he had always been interested in Hindustani music esp Ghazals. He gives a couple of cassettes to Nandita, and also one in which he had sung a few songs. Nandita after listening to the cassettes, compliments him on his singing talent. Rajeev sends Nandita a couple of passes for a Ghazal concert and Nandita attends it with her writer friend ( Saudamini).

After the concert, Rajeev who had come down with his friend Bhoominathan, invites Nandita and her friend for coffee. During coffee, Bhoominathan in an inebriated state, speaks disparagingly to Saudamini wrt her writing skills creating an awkward tense situation. Saudamini gets up and walks away, and Nandita follows. Rajeev is annoyed with Bhoomi, but the latter is hardly repentant. He says he had always wanted to give a piece of his mind to Saudamini because her writing was hypocritical and pseudo-feministic. However, when Rajeev mentions that Nandita too must’ve felt bad, Bhoomi immediately apologises and does not forget to remark on his friend’s growing soft corner for her.

Rajeev apologises to Nandita at the earliest and also conveys his regrets to Saudamini. Things are back to normal.

One day Nandita calls Rajeev for a favour. She wants to interview a famous artiste living in a village for a feature in her magazine, whom Rajeev knows very well- who also happens to be Bhoomi’s uncle- The artiste shuns reporters and Nandita is apprehensive abt being refused an interview. Rajeev agrees to seek Bhoomi’s help. Bhoomi says he would speak to his uncle about the interview, but says he would not be able to accompany Nandita and the magazine photographer to the village and asks Rajeev to go instead. Besides, the artiste knew Rajeev very well too. So plans are made- Rajeev, Nandita, and the Magazine house photographer would go by the company car to the remote village the coming Sunday.

En route, Rajeev mentions that the story he liked best of Nandita’s was the one which was about 2 little girls- Parvati and Kausu- how they lived near a river, and often played by its banks. The story goes like this:

Parvathi and Kausu were 2 friends and one day, Kausu fought with Parvathi, and the latter in a moment of childish anger pushes Kausu into the river and runs off. Parvathi forgets the incident, goes to sleep and when she woke up she is shocked to see Kausu’s body being carried from the river. Only then the gravity of the situation dawns upon Parvathi and she is filled with remorse and guilt. She spends her days crying, unable to confide in anybody. Eventually she befriends a little boy – another neighbour and many a time that boy offers her comfort and solace.

Nandita’s face pales upon hearing Rajeev recount the story but Rajeev does not notice. The photographer comments that this story had won the best story award the year it had been published. Nandita remains silent and moody.

Now, it was time to stop the car, and resume the journey by boat. The locale is beautiful. As they were waiting for the boat, Rajeev asks Nandita if she was feeling fine, becos she looked “mood- off’- Nandita replies that she was fine. Rajeev then went on to say that a similar incident had happened to him in his childhood - they used to live in Kanyakumari then- like in the story- he used to know 2 girls like Parvathi and Kausu- and he had consoled a girl whom everybody called “Shree kutty”- who was in similar circumstances as that of Parvathi in the story. Now Nandita is totally wonderstruck…as she realizes that Rajeev was her childhood playmate, but she does not tell him anything, and neither does Rajeev think of the possibility. He just expresses surprise that Nandita wrote such a story. Rajeev adds that he had since carried fond memories of that little girl- Shree Kutty and wondered where she was now.

Nandita, during the boat ride keeps deliberating whether to tell him that she was Shree kutty, but she decides not to and keep it to herself as a precious, sweet secret.

They go to the artiste’s palatious ancestral home- have a great lunch- and of course an interview- the old man was a tough nut and did not have much opinion abt the press media- which incidentally had once twisted his words an created a controversy a few years ago – and since then the artiste had banned the press. However he relented to this interview becos Rajeev knew her- then he goes on to ask Rajeev to sing a song- and Rajeev obliges- obviously a song in the raag- Meghamalhaar…

As the song unfolds- we see that the trio return to town, Rajeev and Nandita meet often, their friendship deepens- now the way they address eachother is less formal- previously it used to be in terms of “aap”, now it had become equivalent to “tum”…

Nandita is perfectly comfortable with the friendship- she has no qualms- she sees him as the playmate from her childhood who had helped her cross a tough phase…without whose help perhaps she might have become a mental wreck-but Rajeev finds himself thinking too much abt Nandita- it disconcerts him- he confides to Bhoomi- he says its not “Love” but that definitely he was feeling very affectionate towards Nandini. Bhoomi opines that perhaps Rajeev should tell it to Nandita.

Rajeev asks to meet Nandita at the beach- he hems and haws…and is unable to tell Nandita anything- Nandita imagines that perhaps Rajeev had guessed that she was Shree kutty and wanted to clarify it- Nandita feel svery excited thinking about the recognition- however they go their ways that evening without being able to speak much. Next day again Rajeev calls her to the beach, and finally blurts out:

I like you very much- why-I don’t know why, tho I have asked the question to myself a lot of times- it is a liking that makes me feel I want even if my mind keeps telling me I shouldn’t …”

Nandita is aghast- she glares at him with tears in her eyes and then walks away....
Rajeev is stunned and regrets his confession. He is upset…

Nandita is also disturbed and confides to Saudamini. The latter blames her telling that perhaps Nandita gave him too much liberty considering him her childhood playmate.

(There are scenes interspersed where they show that the relationship between Rajeev and his wife Rekha, as well as Nandita and her husband Mukundan is happy.)

Rajeev tries to call Nandita, give her passes to another Ghazal concert but Nandita ignores him completely…and yet Nandita is vaguely unhappy.

Months pass, Nandita is going to Trivandrum with her friend Saudamini to participate in a creative writing workshop. Saudamini mentions that perhaps Nandita had taken Rajeev’s confession too seriously and over reacted…that she needn’t have misconstrued Rajeev’s “liking” to be misplaced. She also suggests that maybe Nandita could gift him her recent copy of collection of short stories as a peace offering.

Nandita takes out a copy, and inside she addresses it as:

To my childhood playmate
From Shreekutty”

Now Rajeev has to go to Trivandrum on an official assignment, and as luck would have it he boards the same bus as Nandita and Saudamini. Nandita ignores him pointedly, Saudamini makes polite talk. Rajeev feels very hurt but remains silent. When they alight at TVM, Nandita asks Saudamini to give Rajeev the copy of her book.

Rajeev opens the book while sitting in a rick, and upon seeing the contents is overwhelmed with several emotions- surprise, confusion, happiness…

Meanwhile Nandita is wondering what Rajeev’s reaction would be…

Rajeev calls Nandita at the camp and asks to meet her one last time. He was waiting just outside. Nandita goes out to meet him- there are few moments of silence- as Shreekutty and Rajeev look at eachother as childhood friends. Then Rajeev asks why Nandita had played such a drama, why hadn’t she told him that she was Shreekutty- The Shreekutty –whose image -as she waved bye forlornly -had stuck with him for years-whom he had imagined running into some day-
Shreekutty only smiles. Rajeev then apologises for having spoken the way he did at the beach the other day, he then bid farewell and was about to leave, when Nandita calls him back and says could they visit that shore in Kanyakumari one last time?

Nandita and Rajeev board a bus to Kanyakumari, they visit the seashore and all the places of their childhood- there is a nice song running in the background- they sit side by side in companionable silence- and when the song ends we find Nandita resting her head on Rajeev’s shoulder. She suddenly opens her eyes, moves away- Both are embarrassed. Then Nandita asks Rajeev- now they address mutually as “nee” (equivalent to “tu” in Hindi)- The vestiges of formality has finally crumbled away :

Would you be able to forget that we ever met again- that we would never meet again, that even if some time in the future we were to cross paths, would you be able to pass by as if we never knew eachother?
Because, if we continue our friendship there is the possibility that we would be lost to the people who love us. So would you be able to promise me that after we leave here, we would never meet? Would you be able to promise me this? I too need to forget this encounter, and I promise you that I shall. So what do you say Rajeev?”-
There are tears in her eyes.

Rajeev replies with a sad smile: “Shall we leave?”

The frame freezes- next frame:

Many years into the future,this could be a possibility:

Nandita is watching the sun set at Kanyakumari. She has aged, there are streaks of grey in her hair, her husband comes near her and says; “Shall we leave? I did not know that you meant this place when you said you wanted to go on a trip”. Nandita smiles. They are checking out of the hotel that they were staying in.

Another taxi- Rekha is dozing off- her husband Rajeev wakes her up and tells her affectionately- that they had almost reached their destination. Rekha wakes up and tells her husband that she did not know how the sunset in Kanyakumari was different from the one that they could see at the city where they lived. Rajeev smiles indulgently and quips that she was better off asleep. The taxi enters the hotel premises.

Rajeev enters the hotel. Rekha follows him. Mukundan exits from the same hotel. He recognizes Rekha- they had studied in the same college it seems. Rekha introduces Rajeev to Mukundan. Mukundan calls out to Nandita who was already in their car. Nandita comes out- she sees Rajeev- their eyes meet- Mukundan introduces her to Rajeev and Rekha. Rekha recognizes her as the famous writer. Rajeev says “Hello” and Nandita murmurs “Hello”- the next shot is of waves lashing on the shores of Kanyakumari and the words reverberate a few times….

(This story might seem quite irrelevant in today’s world, where there are many healthy friendships between the sexes. But, somehow this movie touched me in a special way- the possibility of deep affection developing between two individuals which might have caused undesirable repercussions in either’s family life- I think it could be still valid in some instances atleast…( have witnessed a few such relationship -evolutions :-))
Somehow, if there is a possibility that such friendships might go on to become much deeper then perhaps it is wiser to avoid such circumstances. Just what I feel.)


This movie was directed by Kamal- not to be mistaken for Kamalahassan.

Rajeev was played by Biju Menon and Nandita by Samyuktha Varma- soon afterwards, these 2 got married in real life! They have played co stars in quite a number of movies.

Though this movie was not a box office hit, it won a few State level awards. I think it was produced by asianet.


SeaSwallowMe said...

nice review, ardra !

somehow felt the plot devices were a little too convenient (all of them knowing each other, running into each other - those hospital scenes, for example) .. but hey, sounds like a movie i'd love to watch !

p.s. remember talking about this sometime ago. dunno if it was email or buckwaas. my take on it - if the "primary" relationship is stable & healthy, how can the new relationship threaten it ? .. and if it does, would it mean the primary one wasn't a stable one to begin with ? .. or I wonder - is it the promise of a better relationship than the existing one ?

of course, there's the ultimate escape-clause - that you don't know who you're going to meet tomorrow :-P

Ardra said...

I knew what sorta comment wud be coming from u...:-)

inspiredbylife said...

Great review, Ardra (somehow mommy seems better)! I could visualize the movie. Well, I wonder how can you remember so many minute details! I hardly remember any! :(

Well, I agree with SSM's comment, but then as you have written in today's circumstances it may not be a big thing!

:))@ssm's ultimate escape!

Ardra said...

so go ahead sumit! who's stopping u from calling me mommy :-)

yes, i do remember dialogues and some nuances of expressions, but I wish I cud remember shots, angles , lightings too- referring to ssm's blog the other day-

inspiredbylife said...

Well, ssm's comment got me thinking... do we have an overdose of Harry met Sally? Have people stoped believing in plain old "Love"? Does the word "Love" between a boy and girl always have to remind us of "sex or marriage"? Do we need to twist the meaning of every word to make it mean something else?

Have we become so narrow minded that we can't even accept something so simple and straight forward as "Love"? Hum... wonder where the humanity is heading to!

SeaSwallowMe said...

ardra, yeah, like IBL says, it's amazing to read how much detail you remember. i could never remember all this - maybe a few scenes here & there, but nothing like this :)))

Hirdu said...

Oh Lord !! I can almost view the pain in the eyes of the guy and the gal when he said, "Shall we leave ?"

Amazing isn't it that we humans are sensitve enough to leave what we would have desired the most and move on with a SMILE

Sangeeta said...

WOW!! What a lovely movie review!

When I'm asked abt a movie I have watched, I am just not able to say more's nice..or it's okay:-(

Wanderind said...

Nicely written...But the piece feels more like a screenplay summary than a review...Please don't give away the plot to people who haven't seen the film and emphasize on your reflections about the film..Keep writing

Ardra said...

Thank you for your feedback Wanderind!
Yes, this and a couple of others that I've written are more of screenplay summaries. When I first posted these, it was for a specific group of friends with whom I wanted to share the stories, and who were unlikely to see the movies...but I get your point about not giving away the plot to readers who might want to see the movie.

abhilash warrier said...

Ardra, I love the way you write; by the way, Ardra is one of my all-time fav names!

I loved this movie. I watched it once on Asianet.

Will you write your thoughts on Sneham and Vathsalyam? I am waiting to read your thoughts on these movies.