Adoor Gopalakrishnan, the most renowned film maker from Kerala, again strikes with the a powerful film “ NAALU PENUNGAL”. His films are always uncomplicated sensible plots. This is also a film telling powerful theme structured with simplicity. It is the story of womanhood, a classic translation of literature to story narration.
The film “ NAALU PENNUNGAL” is based on four simple tales written by famous writer” THAKAZHY SIVSSANKARA PILLAI in early sixties. Adoor recreates the sixties without leaving anything and poetically and uncompromisingly tells the tale of four women, each coming from a different social status and gave tribute to the world famous writer.
The amazing director has done once again something many veterans can't achieve -- he has followed one enduring story after another to deliver a dark but humanistic, sometimes sad, gripping and life-illumining film, of no parallels. Many would rate it as one of the year's best.
The first story “ORU NIYAMALANKANATHINTE KADHA” took place during the early independence period. It’s the story of Kunjupennu (PadmaPriya) who takes prostitution for a living. Pappukutty who falls in love with her decided to marry her and so she is able to change profession. Hey tried their best to keep up with the societal norms of being a married couple. But their claim that they are married is rejected on the basis that Kunju Pennu was a woman without moral values and they were caught for the violation of civil laws. In a short span of married life they realized that it is hard to change the social reputations even if we try to present our self with a new face. Even in the court to prove themselves, the heroine here stands motionless, eyes down, allowing her husband to speak in her name as per the social norms of the time and supporting him with the warmth and the sense of togetherness even as they stand convicted in the fragile borders of morality.
The heroine in 'The Virgin' Kumari (Geethu Mohandas) is a young woman who looks after her parents, by working in the farmlands. Her parents arrange a match, with a man, Narayanan. As everyone expects a very good family life for the couple, Narayanan’s business skills and obsession with food with little liking for everything else including his wife, leaves Kumari in dire streets. Once left back to her home, Kumari starts life afresh, passing off her marriage as an unpleasant interlude that never did happened. Even though the character has very less dialogues, she is strong enough to be in par with the other female characters of the film.
In “Chinnu amma” a loving married couple (Manju Pillai and Murali) has come to terms with the loss of their children to early deaths, both thinking each other as the reason for the untimely losses. Chinnu amma now in her thirties doesn’t care for it any more until her old boyfriend, Narapillai, a father of eight children who has just came back from Tamil nadu , proposes a solution to take her to bed for a healthy offspring. Here Chinnu amma, shows her strong character which is enough to protect herself against a sin that should not be committed.
In the final story, and of course, the best one ‘Nithya kanyaka' a family's oldest sister (Nandita Das,) must cope with the consequences when her suitor decides to select her younger sister Subhadra (Kavya Madhavan) instead of her, to enter into matrimony. In a short span of time her fate even makes her witness her youngest sister married off and her mother passing way. Now left alone, she adjusts herself to become a lady who can live alone without support from anyone in the society.
Each story, well narrated, never ever leave the viewers confused. As the film moves on from one story to another, the women portrayed draws themselves in strength to strength to become totally independent in the end.