Oct 27, 2008

2nd Nov 2008; Screening of Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Elippathayam (Rat Trap)

(Rat Trap)
A film by Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Year : 1981
Malayalam with English sub titles
Run time : 121 minutes
2nd Nov 2008 ; 5.45 pm
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
Call : 94430 39630

Additional screening : Introduction to the film
by Adoor Gopalakrishnan (22 minutes)

Adoor's first film in colour, Elippathayam is an allegory about the collapse of the feudal system in Kerala.
The film is trying to explore the question, what is being? It is an incisive examination of what constitutes an individual. In close scrutiny, a person is made out of his actions and interactions. It is always a give and take. For Unni, it is always taking and not giving, while for his sister Rajamma it is always giving and not taking.
Unni is the head of a feudal Nair family, unable to cope with the changing social conditions leading to the decline of the feudal system in Kerala. While his elder sister Janamma fights for her own family share from the feudal spoils, his younger sister Rajamma obediently serves him like a slave, and finally collapses under the strain.
Sridevi the rebellious youngest sister walks away from the family rejecting the old system. Confronted with adverse conditions, Unni withdraws like a rat into a dark hole.

Remarkable for its focus on characterization and detail, Rat-Trap is set in rural Kerala. Its story concerns Unni, the last male-heir of a feudal and decaying joint family. His inability to accept the socio-economic changes of a new society result in his gradual withdrawal into a metaphorical rat-trap sprung from his own isolation and paranoia. The decline is vividly told, with colour and music used as a striking and significant constituent of the film’s thematic development.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Satyajith Ray's role in revolutionising Indian cinema during 1950s with his first film Pather Panchali was taken-up by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in Kerala to create a drastic change in Malayalam cinema. Adoor's first film Swayamvaram (1972) pioneered the new wave cinema movement in Kerala.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in 1941 in Kerala. He belongs to a family with strong links to the performing arts, especially Kathakali, a highly-stylised form of dance drama. From the age of eight Adoor began acting for the stage, later producing and directing over twenty plays, several written by him. He is the author of two books on the theatre as well as a book on the cinema, "The World of Cinema", for which he won a national award in 1983. In 1962 Adoor enrolled in the Film and Television Institute in Pune and graduated in 1965 with a diploma in Scriptwriting and Direction. The same year he founded the Chitralekha Film Society of Trivandrum as well as the Chitralekha Film Cooperative. Both played a key role in the development of film culture in Kerala. In 1972

Adoor made Swayamvaram/One's Own Choice, his first full-length feature film. It launched the New Cinema in Kerala and became one of the major films of the Indian New Wave. He has since made seven more films (along with over 25 shorts and documentaries), all of which have won major national and international awards: Kodiyettam/Ascent (1977); Elippathayam/Rat Trap (1981); Mukhamukham/Face to Face (1984); Anantaram/Monologue (1987); Mathilukal/The Walls (1990); Vidheyan/The Servile (1993), and Kathapurushan/Man of the Story (1995).

Elippathayam received the prestigious British Film Institute Award in 1982; Mukhamukham won the FIPRESCI prize in 1985; Kathapurushan was honoured in India in 1995 with the National Award for Best Film. Retrospectives of Adoor's films have been held in Pesaro, Helsinki, La Rochelle, Nantes, Munich, and New York. All of Adoor's films draw on the history and culture of his native Kerala. Kerala's transition from feudalism to modernity serves as a backdrop to his complex meditations on the psychology of power, the nature of oppression, the corruption of patriarchy, and the coexistence of the modern and the feudal in post-Independence democratic India.

Elippathayam, his masterpiece, vividly captures the descent into paranoia of a man trapped within his feudal universe. In Mukhamukham, a study in failed idealism, a Communist leader gives up on revolution and decides to go to sleep instead. Vidheyan, a parable-like story, deals with the abuse of power, the plight of the outsider, and the nature of a master-servant relationship.

The more recent films--especially Anantaram, Mathilukal and Kathapurushan--display a new concern with interiority and reflexivity, foregrounding time, memory, consciousness, and the nature of storytelling itself. Adoor's genius lies in his ability to create visually complex films that operate on multiple levels, that are culture-specific and yet universal in significance.

(source : http://www.cinemaofmalayalam.net ,
http://www.adoorgopalakrishnan.in/profile.htm )

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