FRIDAY REVIEW

Last bastions of tradition

NITA SATHYENDRAN

Spotlight‘Agraharangalude vilapam’ delves into the vanishing heritage of agraharas.



They were once the bastions of learning, knowledge, art and culture, yet they were simple homesteads at the heart of South Indian society.

They are the agraharams- the traditional homes of South Indian Brahmins; invariably row houses with slanting roofs and common walls lining both sides of the street that leads to a temple.

Lamentably, today, these unique heritage buildings are mere shadows of their former austere glory. These living remnants of a fast fading culture, have been poignantly captured in the award-winning documentary Agraharangalude vilapam, (Agrahara- a lament) directed by M. Venukumar.

The streets with agraharas are usually situated in heart of towns making them the ideal locations for starting a business. In this 22 minute documentary in Thiruvannathapuram, Palakkad and in various locales in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Venukumar has chosen to personify the agaraharas, giving them a feminine voice. Why? “Because we identify houses with the feminine. The angst of the mother of the house is the most poignant and the house is usually an extension of her personality.”

The ‘agrahara’ ends its account with pathos. It shows viewers visible signs of decay unkempt environs, and finally the most heartbreaking of all of it all- being torn down to make way for glitzy new buildings.



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