New Delhi, 11 Sep 2020 17:00 IST
Updated: 29 Mar 2021 20:19 IST
The directorial debut of actor Ganapathi, this politically conscious film makes us think about what it means to be a citizen.
There are many times when we think about helping people ravaged by circumstances, but then we sink back into our comfortable lives, seldom sparing little more than a thought for those less fortunate. The directorial debut of actor Ganapathi is an exquisite, short Malayalam film which examines what it really means to be a citizen.
Onnu Chirikkoo traces the simple life of an aged couple living somewhere in a Kerala village. Koretta (Narayanan Nambiar) is a farmer who tends to his crops and lives off the sweat of his brow while his wife (Thambai Monacha), takes care of their home, taking pleasure in preparing meals for her husband. Despite being in their sunset years, the couple has a strong work ethic and finds joy in little things.
Koretta is distressed when he hears news about floods ravaging homes in Kerala, a reference to last year's floods in the state, and decides to do something in his own quiet way. Though they do not have a great deal to spare, the old couple puts the needs of those in trouble ahead of its own.
The film’s title translates to 'Please Laugh' and the simple narrative weaves in myriad concerns, asking for a little lightness to be found even in the gravest of situations. Koretta’s way of life is in stark contrast with that of the younger people, who idle away their time playing games. They are more interested in clicking photographs instead of doing the hard labour that builds the foundations of nations. Herein also lies a comment about the responsibility of citizens towards their fellow human beings.
The heart-warming relationship between the couple, their love for each other and the almost impulsive way in which they communicate their thoughts is beautifully captured by the performances. Nambiar and Monacha are impeccably cast as the couple who have spent a lifetime together and communicate with gestures and expressions rather than words.
Gowtham Babu’s stunning cinematography offers a visual treat, which, together with the sonic template, transports us to the lush green fields of Kerala. The rustle of the breeze, the squelching of the mud, the craggy strains of the radio, along with evocative music by Jayakrishnan Unnithan, creates a fusion of craft with the beauty of the land.
Just a little over six minutes long, this layered, politically conscious film could have only been made in Kerala. The end of the film, where we hear a speech about what makes a good politician, we wonder about our own socio-political awareness and engagement with our fellow humans.
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