Movie Review:Vanaprastham

Directed By-Shaji n karun
Main Cast-Mohanlal,Suhasini
Released Year-1999

It is extremely difficult to write a review for an outstanding malayalam movie like vanaprastham. i had to see many reviews for this movie online and finally came up with a combination of some excellent description of the plot from many sites and some insight into the movie from my part.

The story revolves around a male Kathakali dancer Kunhikuttan (Mohanlal), an admirable and respected performer.He struggles to come to terms with the rejection and estrangement of his father, a member of an upper caste who denies him.Poor, unhappy, and stuck in an arranged marriage that provides no relief, he gets by for the sake of his daughter. One night, whilst performing as Arjuna from the epic Mahabarata on stage, his dance is witnessed by Subhadra (Suhasini), a well-educated member of an upper-caste family.subhadra is a playwright who earnestly wishes to write a play portaying Arjuna’s ardour in the mythological story of the kidnapping of Subhadra, one of her favorite pieces. As the story goes on, we see that she is clearly confusing Kunhikuttan playing Arjuna with the real Arjuna even after kunjikuttan says many times he is talking about the real human inside the make-up. A romantic liason between the two produces a child that Subhadra withholds from Kunhikuttan, cruely adding insult to injury of a man who was denied legitimate recognition by his landlord father and now being denied access to his only son.


Kunhikuttan tries to drink away his relationship and personal problems through alcohol, and the only time he seems to be able to express his emotions publicly is during his Kathakali performances. This is most brilliantly and stunningly demonstrated when we see the crash and burn of his relationship with Subhadra cause him to decide to play negative roles on the stage. In the very next shot, the camera focuses on a close-up of his meticulously-madeup face as he screams in anger. Anger of the mythological character he is representing but most important, his own seething, unrelenting anger


While the film focuses on and is told from the point of view of Kunhikuttan, Subhadra’s character is really the mystery and heart of the film.. Was she crazy? Could it really be true that such cruel behavior from her was solely the result of social constraints she felt placed on her as a widow and her wanting the best for her son? I felt like the film wanted me to believe that she was at least somewhat mentally unstable. During the scenes in which she watches Kunhikuttan’s performance completely enraptured in another world and later when she expresses her desires with Mohanlal before their physical encounter, the way she laughs makes her seem socially distanced from reality. When Kunhikuttan tells her that he is indeed not Arjuna, but he who wears his costume, she looks at him with a blank expression. She is seen getting utterly lost in the world of her pen and paper and the plays she imagines. Later, as she isolates herself in her house with her child, we see short clips of her sitting alone, listlessly staring into space or twirling a teacup on a table. All of these things seemed to be cues to indicate she was not mentally stable.

So what are we to make of the dreary and bleak life of the protagonist, Kunhikuttan, in this film? Is he meant to offer us any insight into life? Near the end of film as he prepares to dance with his daughter, he muses that “…some believe that all things finish in a void. I am waiting for that glorious moment when all joys melt together with all painful moments. Nothing matters anymore.”


This movie is brilliantly directed and is filled with beautiful frames.Coming to the performances,suhasini did a splendid job as subhadra and so is the rest of the cast.But it is mohanlal(won the national award)l who is the real charm of the movie.He is in terrific form as Kunjikuttan.His eyebrows move up and down with the sound of drums while he performs and his eyes really speak all the emotions of his character.This is one superb movie any classic movie lover should not miss.