‘Kunjedathi,' a cinematic adaptation of ONV Kurup's poem of the same name, is a lyrical movie.
For those who grew up listening to poet O.N.V. Kurup's ‘Kunjedathi,' from audio cassettes in the nineties, it evokes a multitude of emotions and thoughts. The poem unveiled the unadulterated curiosity of a child towards nature, a young woman's motherly love for her little brother, and, above all, the trials and sacrifices of a past dipped in revolutionary dreams.
For a whole lot of people, both young and adults alike, it was an initiation into the nuances of poetry. They learned to appreciate, ponder over, and even render a few lines of poetry during those times. Those were the days when ‘Naranathu Bhranthan' by V. Madhusoodanan Nair and ‘Sarga Sangeetham' by the legendary Vayalar Rama Varma were as much a rage at school youth festivals and public functions, as they were in homes.
Watching ‘Kunjedathi,' a short film made by Prasad Nooranad, stirred up memories of those times. But within a few minutes into the 30-minute film, one gets engrossed in the narrative and begins to walk with Unni, a superb performance by Master Aromal, who, incidentally, is actor Beena Antony's son. “The film satisfactorily portrayed the reality behind the poem on a small, suggestive canvas,” testifies the poet himself, after watching a preview. “While the poem has the Bharathapuzha as a backdrop, the film shows Ashtamudi Lake. Kunjedathi met with a watery grave there,” he explains.
“The charm of an era bygone, with its blessings and its travails, made me do the film,” chips in Prasad. ‘“Kunjedathi' has a special place in the hearts of all Malayalis. I myself used to win prizes in poetry recitation contests in school, rendering ‘Kunjedathi,”' he beams. Kunjedathi, the eponymous character beautifully essayed by Dimble Rose, and the enchanting villagescape instantly capture our hearts. Kunjedathi's endless affection for Unni is painted in lucid colours.
On a parallel track, unsettling glimpses of her plight get ample support from the co-actors. The seemingly simple thread takes on many layers in between Unni's wonder-filled outings and innocent queries to Kunjedathi.
Indeed, it is a tough task to reproduce literary works on screen, more so a poem that touched a thousand hearts on account of its simple words and poignant style, all set in the backdrop of nature's bounty. Anil Mukhathala's screenplay and dialogues successfully translate it on to the screen, interspersed with relevant lines of the poem.
They are movingly rendered by Lekshmi Das, one of the winners of ‘Mambazham,' a reality show on Kairali TV. Nature at once becomes a character, a strong presence, and a backdrop all through the narrative, inspiring a melancholic awe. The film evokes the right emotions at the right places, just as the poem does.