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Polandine Patti Episode 6

Last updated on May 25, 2022

Today we continue our look at the theme of Urban/City Life, with our examination of director Shambu Purushothaman’s 2013 film Vedivazhipadu, set against the backdrop of the Attukal Pongala festival held in Thiruvananthapuram.  A reminder that, as always, there are spoilers!

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00:01:01 We got feedback!

00:02:12 Harsha opens by mentioning she’d watched Paapam Cheyyathavar Kalleriyatte, Shambu Purushothaman’s second feature film, before dipping into Vedivazhipadu. The films share similar themes, especially hypocrisy within a family.

00:03:00 Harsha notes that there was a period when aspiring New-Gen filmmakers struggled to balance the aspirational Westerness of characters speaking in Malayalam. How do you balance the modern and the traditional?

00:05:05 Harsha describes the importance of the Attukal Pongala festival in Kerala culture, and how it serves as the backdrop to the action of the film.

00:07:08 Katherine summarizes the plot of the film, set against the activity surrounding the festival.

00:08:45 The film places men’s aberrant behaviour in contrast with a festival devoted to a female god.

00:09:28 Katherine’s endless struggle: terrible (or no) subtitles.

00:10:55 Both Harsha and Katherine were put off with Indrajith’s acting in this film — he’s normally such a good, reliable actor and here he seemed so forced.

00:11:30 Katherine notes the film was billed as a “sex comedy” when it was released — but is it really?

00:12;20 What does the film have to say — as a social satire — about men’s behaviour and the expectations around it?

00:12:55 For Harsha, Anumol (as Sumithra) is the only actor in the film hitting the right note. She’d like to see Anumol take on some of the roles that Manju Warrier typically plays.

00:16:05 Shambu Purushothaman uses a lot of footage of the festival to convey what the energy of the city is at that time.

00:17:00 It’s a commentary on sexual hypocrisy, rather than a sex comedy — as Harsha notes, it’s nothing like Husbands in Goa.

00:17:25 The film is about sexual mores, especially what men will do when they’re allowed to get away with it.

00:18:08 The sex comedy part of the film is that only one person has sex, and it’s not who you would think it is.

00:18:25 Oppa, Gangnam Style!

00:19:05 Katherine lists some of the questionable Western pop culture art on Joseph (Indrajith)’s apartment walls.

00:20:30 “French teacher” is an indicator in Malayalam films that she’s not like other girls (nudge nudge wink wink)

00:20:59 Is the French understandable?

00:21:50 Katherine has seen these types of characters in French films. Is this another sign of the film being aimed at a more urban, Western-influenced audience?

00:22:10 Is there a French Farce influence in the film? Katherine wonders if there might be.

00:23:05 Who would have thought we’d mention Dominique Strauss-Kahn on our podcast?

00:23:45 Also, who thought we’d say that Indrajith’s character leans into that kind of French masculine ideal?

00:24:55 No, really, we’re not trying to pit Vedivazhipadu against Paapam Cheyyathavar Kalleriyatte, but it’s interesting to think about the differences in the director’s films.

00:25:06 Malayalam directors are generally better served by turning their lens homeward.

00:26:20 Katherine finds it interesting that she connects more with the film that is more rooted in Malayalam culture than the film that does more of the “Western outreach”.

00:29:30 How is the news footage of the festival used in the film? It sets the background, for sure, but it also allows the men to keep track of their time — it’s an example of the little moments that do work in this film.

00:29:59 Whatever you think of the film’s editing, the images of the Pongala are beautiful to watch and give a good sense of being immersed in the festival.

00:30:45 The film is immersed in the songs in the background praising the goddess.

00:32:00 Many festivals in India are out on the streets, but Kerala tends to be a lot more private and a lot less exuberant when it comes to festivals — the Pongala is an exception to this.

00:33:25 Usually the dynamic is that women are at home and men are out in the world, so the idea of what happens when men stay home is an interesting one.

00:33:40 The idea of the Pongala is that it’s the time for women to occupy the outside world.

00:34:20 Taboos are being crossed on every level in this film.

00:34:39 Shambu Purushothaman has yet another #problematic actor in his film, so Harsha would not actually recommend the film to anyone.

00:36:05 Of all the men in the movie, apart from Indrajith, the one Harsha likes as an actor is Saiju Kurup. Katherine agrees.

00:36:25 Do you agree with our assessment of Murali Gopy as an actor? Let us know. (Hint: we both like him in Left Right Left)

00:38:05 A reminder that Murali Gopy’s father was the very respected actor Bharat Gopy. What does that kind of legacy mean for the child of someone in the industry? (Hint: we’ll talk about this more in future episodes).

00:39:25 We talk a little bit about news, including Mohanlal’s directorial debut. Please note: Katherine really does like Mohanlal. He really is gold.

00:40:05 Cosmetic enhancement in the Malayalam industry. What does this mean for an industry that prides itself on having actors with a lot of range? And are men able to get away with a lot more in this area than women are?

00:42:25 How do you navigate getting older as an actor?

00:43:40 Returning to Barroz — it’s being pitched as a children’s film, which always makes Katherine curmudgeonly, because then the excuse if it doesn’t work for adults is that they weren’t the target audience.

00:44:10 Harsha thinks we need to continue having these discussions about aging and what it means to age gracefully — and that doesn’t always mean getting no work done, especially in a visual medium where the cameras are getting better and reveal every detail.

00:45:05 Fundamentally we agree that you can’t fault someone whose livelihood depends, in part, on their image in a visual medium for wanted to maintain that image in the best way they can.

00:45:25 Barroz has a potentially problematic casting in the actor Rafael Amargo.

00:46:17 There are only a small number of white actors who work in Indian industries, so who else could be in Barroz?

00:46:50 The Great Indian Kitchen comes to streaming after being turned down by the big OTT players, remarkable since it’s being talked about as one of the best films of 2020.

00:47:55 Once again we mourn the late, great Reelmonk.

00:49:48 Please Neestream, put subtitles on your content!

00:50:25 Malayalam cinema is never going to have a huge market, but there is clearly some interest there beyond Kerala and the diaspora.

00:50:51 Other sources for Malayalam films (some with subtitles): Hotstar, Eros Now, Simply South.

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One Comment

  1. Adheesh Adheesh

    Well, I did not expect an Anthony Perumbavoor cameo here.

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