Who doesn’t love a good story about the fantastic and the supernatural?! The divine, ghosts, spirits, and everything in between that takes shape in our imagination has been brought to the silver screen in stories that weave together the fantastic and the real. They not only push the boundaries of storytelling, but reveal us for who we are — creatures of the imagination! The supernatural are often sources of evil in our films. Here we look at a few films where the fantastic came to life to save the day.
Nandanam: Until the very end, we have no inkling of Lord Guruvayurappan tucked away in the story. But we do get hints of divinity in the air — Balamani’s plain white skirt and blouse are suddenly adorned with black polka dots, Manu’s wedding suspiciously gets postponed, and when Balamani decides to jump into a well, her neighbour Unni springs up from nowhere. What a fantastical touch to an otherwise trite love story between an orphaned maid and the lad of the house! And isn’t that final scene where she comes face to face with her object of affection as he dances in front of Guruvayurappan temple sheer bliss?
Pranchiyettan and the Saint: As Pranchiyettan kneels down before St. Francis of Assisi, ready to talk his heart out, he is baffled by the statue’s sudden disappearance. As he looks around he is stunned to see the Saint standing before him in chocolate brown robes and a gruff beard. They exchange pleasantries — Pranchiyettan in chaste Thrissur slang and the Saint in Hebrew. As he pours out his woes over the punyalan’s inability to converse in Malayalam comes a deep baritone voice calling him over with affection — “Da Pranchi…Pranchiyetta … eda Ari Pranchi.” The saint speaks in a perfectly intoned Thrissur slang, sighs in Hebrew, has a terrific sense of humour, and provides respite to Pranchiyettan’s woes.
Njan Gandharvan: Padmarajan creates every girl’s dream man in his Gandharvan — he is dishy with a killer smile, can change forms and locations when he wants, is an incorrigible romantic, sings like Yesudas, and even rides a bike! So it’s easy to visualise the passionate love story that eventually erupts between him and a pretty girl on earth. Oh yes, we do dig his gold decked, long haired, bare chested celestial form as well.
Amen: With auburn hair, cream and brown robes, and a calm smile, Father Vincent Vattoli turns out to be a guardian angel for the people of Kumaramkari. Not only does he bring peace between two warring groups, he is a lot of fun, trying out a jig in the middle of the village and all the while keeping us totally unprepared for his divine self.
Aayushkalam: Balakrishnan’s life takes an unexpected turn when he gets a heart transplant. He is able see the ghost of his donor Aby Mathew tailing him everywhere and it makes him a nervous wreck. Before he realises that he is only able to see Aby, there are a few hilarious ghost encounters — so Aby is shooed off by his deceased dad when he comes for a home visit — “Ninnekkal korey balichorundathada njan.” Then the one with Sreenivasan — he is convinced of Balakrishnan’s ghost tale only after he recites the terrible poetry he read out to his wife in the privacy of their home.
Ennu Swantham Janakikutty: Near the ruins of an old temple Janakikutty, through the frames of her overlarge spectacles, sights a vision in white —Kunajathol, the light-eyed, beautiful Yakshi. That’s also the point when Janaki Kutty stops talking to the audience. She talks to Kunjathol instead. She is introduced to the world of Yakshis where they play with the lonely and punish the cruel. It is to the maker’s credit that he keeps the ambiguity of Kunjathol’s existence alive till the end. Even in Janakikutty’s world of yakshis, whether real or imaginary, caste and class hierarchies are firmly entrenched. The fair Brahmin yakshi Kunjathol is clearly at the top of the power pyramid and she issues orders to the dusky Kari Neeli who tells her there are lesser Yakshis standing guard for them. Kunjathol becomes Janaki Kutty’s alter ego and fights in her corner. As Janaki grows more and more comfortable in the world of the fantastic she lets go of social niceties. She starts blurting out uncomfortable truths that earn her the wrath of her relatives.
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Fullpicture is an exclusive, comprehensive, online English magazine on Malayalam cinema, put together by a team of experienced journalists who share a passion for everything about Malayalam cinema. The idea is to put out well-written and well-researched features, exclusive interviews,...