Everyone can learn from this conservative Vedic scholar
Over the last decade, the Malayalam film industry and its audience have embraced a progressive approach and there has been a steady fall in the number of hero-centric and entertainment focussed movies. People are preferring movies built on a strong script and showcase real-life incidents.
This wasn’t the case 2 decades back.
In 1993, the movie Paithrukam (Heritage) released, and despite having a thought-provoking script, it tanked at the box office. The songs were extremely popular, but that didn’t salvage the movie from bombing. When the movie was later telecast, it immediately garnered a cult following and it was no longer a hidden gem.
I stumbled upon this movie (10 years back)before I had transitioned from being a believer to an agnostic. The climax definitely served my belief system from that period and it struck a chord with me. A retrospective analysis of the movie was due, especially since my belief system had changed.
The central theme of the movie focuses on the clash between Theism and Atheism. Devadathan Chemmathiripadu is a Vedic scholar and is played by the veteran actor Narendra Prasad. He has two sons; both are radically different from each other. Somadathan chooses Atheism and adopts journalism to spread his voice. Chitrabhanu, on the other hand, conforms to the traditions passed down by his father and becomes the chief priest in the nearby temple.
Devadathan finds it difficult to accept Somadathan’s radical views and politely ousts him from the house. Somadathan marries his girlfriend, Gayathri, who is also a staunch atheist and moves into an old haunted house to prove the superstitious naysayers wrong. As they clean up the surroundings of the house, they end up destroying some of the Naga idols.
As the movie progresses, Gayathri ends up having two miscarriages and starts having dreams filled with serpents. She realizes the destruction of the idols is causing the abortions and decides to clean up the shrine and lights a lamp. This doesn’t go well with Somadathan, and he issues an ultimatum. Unable to comply with his conditions, Gayathri moves in with her in-laws and later delivers a baby boy.
Somadathan has a face-off with his father, and this is what I now consider a pivotal part of the movie after my retrospective analysis. He angrily asks his father not to raise his son as a brahmin and to restrain from transferring any Vedic knowledge to him. Somadathan emphasizes on raising his son exactly like him. To which, his father responds
“I wasn’t adamant about doing that with my own son”
This dialogue stuns Somadathan to the point of speechlessness and he quietly walks away. I didn’t notice the brilliance laced in the dialogue the first time I saw the movie. In hindsight, it portrays what everyone in life should exercise irrespective of what ideology they follow- the ability to respect another person’s differing views and to engage without having any tendency to destroy them is what will move mankind forward.
All this is definitely stemming from my idealism, but it is worthwhile to remember- not wanting to purge another human solely because of conflicting ideas is the baseline for any human being.