Search this blog

Oct 30, 2006

Agnisakshi

The film is an adaptation of Lalithambika Antharjanam’s award winning novel of the same name. In the eighties Mathrubhoomi weekly used to serialize the novel for its loyal readers, one of which included my mother. She was a big fan of the author and this novel because of its stirring feminist message, inspired by my mother I tried reading it, but as a seven or eight year old I miserably failed and continued pledging my unwavering allegiance to Poompatta and Balarama.

Agnisakshi is a realistic portrayal of the inhuman living and social standards high caste Namboodiri(Brahmin) women had to endure at the turn of this century. The story is told from the eyes of a half caste Namboodiri girl, who had access to the inner sanctums of Namboodiri household due to her parentage(her father was a Brahmin) but was still considered untouchable because her mother was from a lower caste. Praveena plays the young girl, Thankam and in the later stage of life the same role is acted by Srividya. The story starts in Benares, the holiest of the holy Indian cities, at the banks of the sacred Ganga. An older Thankam has come to immerse the ashes of her half brother in the Ganga – the river of eternal salvation. There she goes searching for her sister-in-law(the wife of this deceased half-brother), Devaki acted by Shobhana, who had become a sanyasin some time earlier. From there on the story is told in flashback.

Shobhana and Rajit Kapoor in Agnisakshi

It is a story about the age old struggle of old and new, the traditional and the modern, told from the twilight hour when the change is imminent but is not yet there. Rajit Kapoor, the Hindi TV-serial and independent film actor portrays the eldest son of the Namboodiri household, the half brother of Thankam and Shobhana’s husband who has given his life over to practicing the traditional values of Hindu dharma. This leaves the newly-wed Devaki in a lurch, a virtual prisoner in a traditional household where even reading is considered as a crime for women.

The story progresses through the tribulations of Devaki, her friendship with Thankam, the effect of wider social changes like the independence of India from the British and the emancipation of women thereafter. The direction by Shyamaprasad brings to life a very moving and hard-hitting visual statement.

Reactions:

2 comments:

The actor is Rajit Kapoor not Rajat Kapoor.They're two different personalities.

Corrected. Appreciate you pointing out. I already have posts about Rajat Kapoor: Khoya Khoya Chand and Mixed Doubles