Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chemmeen - God's own country's own movie

'Those who go to the sea,what will you get back for us?'

Thus go the song of the Malayalam classic movie Chemmeen,and also sums up the theme of the movie which I shall review in this post.

One of the landmark movies of Malayalam cinema, Chemmeen is known for it songs,cinematography,simplicity and the acting. Though the story is quite predictive,for that period (1965), watching it is like nostalgia on sea shore.

Whats it about

The shore side people of that period were supposed to be very superstitious. A common belief was that if you are an unfaithful wife then the sea goddess will kill your husband. Sheela is a poor girl and in love with Madhu,the dude of the place. But her father fixes her marriage with Sathyan. Even after marriage,though the the married couple have a good life,occasionally the topic of her old love creates tensions.,like I said,predictive. Since the movies of that time depicted a mentality where people did not understand the concept of 'moving on' and love was innocent and true, you can understand what the ending would be.


Foremost is the rich culture of shoreside people living there. Since the sea gives them fish for livelihood,their innocence makes them worship the sea as a Goddess. There are numerous stories,movies,novels on this cultural aspect of any coastal region in India.

The cinematography is beyond words. For a movie of that genre to focus on different moods of sea and the shore,blending with the actor's situation is amazing. The sea's beauty is captured at all times of the day.

Simplicity : the reason we love old movies. The dresses depict the life of the people,their poverty,work,convenience etc. The houses,the rustic boats,the occupation,genious of catching fish are all showcased subtly. So subtle that you would have to carefully look.

Societal aspects : The zamindaari (landlord ) system was prevalent in Kerala too. Called as modalalli, he is equivalent to a manger of today ; Wives weren't so subservient as we thought. Some had the nagging capacity too! ; eternal pressure on a girl's fmaily to get her married off ; young love of girl boy as a taboo.

Poverty : rope making, fishing, no electricity were common.

Sheela's character personifies the suppressed girl. ( Maybe after marriage women nag! :) ) Always dominated by own mother,father, then in-laws,lover,husband.Ultimately she demeans herself. Through her the director portrays undying love,commitment,fear of sin and the societal norms.

The man's character on the other hand is that of a convenient lover at the beginning and then a lost love drama.

Central Theme

The sea ; everything comes from it,everything goes to it. Whether it is livelihood,superstitions,meeting places for lovers or a place to change your fortunes.

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