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Chemmeen (1965)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 19 August 1965 (India)
Karutthamma, the daughter of a Hindu fisherman, falls in love with a Muslim fish trader. However, social prejudices seem to ruin their love life and invite the wrath of their communities. ... See full summary »


1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast overview:
S.P. Pillai
Adoor Pankajam
Kottayam Chellappan
J.A.R. Anand
Kothamangalam Ali


Karutthamma, the daughter of a Hindu fisherman, falls in love with a Muslim fish trader. However, social prejudices seem to ruin their love life and invite the wrath of their communities. Watch the full movie Chemmeen online, only on Eros Now.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Not Rated





Release Date:

19 August 1965 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Chemeen  »

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Referenced in Happy Wedding (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

Once upon a time in Kerala
13 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

I saw Chemmeen as an eight-year-old, when it was re-released in Kerala, India, way back in 1969. At the time it fascinated me because of the playback songs, especially 'kadalinakkaray ponowray' sung by Yesudas. Music choreography is by the well-known Salil Chowdhary. All of the songs were instant hits all over India and Sri-Lanka at the time and everyone use to sing them, in schools, in shopping malls, in festivals etc. There is also the most haunting Malayalam film love song I have ever heard, 'Manasa Mynay Varoo' and believe me I have a good collection of Malayalam songs, old and new. Once you have heard the song, and appreciated its meaning and quality of cinematic delivery for the era, it'll stay in your memory forever, I promise you. As a youngster, at the time I didn't really appreciate the story fully or what the author, Sivasankara Pillai was trying to convey to the reader/viewer. But I did in later years, when I watched the film recently on DVD time and time again. WOW ! The film is simply a masterpiece in Malayalam cinema. Let me explain why...

STORY: 10/10. I will not re-write the story here, now that will be bit unfair to those few who haven't seen it. So I will explain the content at a high level only, as an ardent admirer. Ramu Kariat takes the screenplay from one of the most widely read books written by Thakazhy Sivasankara Pillai. So even before the film came out in the mid sixties, most people especially in Kerala had read and loved the novel. It is a tragic love story, comparable to Romeo and Juliet. It's an investigation into tri-partite relationships. It examines the power of universal love and proves that love has no religious, cultural or geographical boundaries. It reaffirms the required commitment to relationships, it displays the true growing nature of love in an arranged marriage, but it also shows how deep, passionate-love can both save and destroy ordinary humans. Behind this localised story of true love, Chemmeen also tells the global story of a fishing locality. It tells how people can change with greed and jealousies. Its tells the engraved nature of superstition in the Hindu religion and culture, for example, the firm belief that if you do wrong, 'Kadalamma (mother of the sea)' will most definitely be cross with you, ie she will take your precious item away as punishment. So the story is also an embodiment of moral standards. As a mediator and arbitrator of divided factions, Pillai questions and assesses both sides of the arguments and finally gives you a few meaningful answers. Yes, it was a controversial story and suffice to say, anyone with heart will love it once they see it replicated exactly on film.

DIRECTION: 9/10. I am a passionate follower of Kurasawa, Bergman, Kubrick, Fellini and Ray, so I have seen some faultless films in the past, therefore I wont give this film's directorial effort a 10/10. Personally I think all films outside these masters' spectrum of thoughts are simply part of regression filmmaking, just people simply going back and repeating the same things on camera. Now having said that, I do feel that Chemmen's direction by Ramu Kariat is unique. The direction is more David Lean style than of any other filmmaker. David Lean's 'Ryans Daughter' is done with the same flair and feeling as of Chemmeen. The cinematography of Chemmeen is outstanding, including shots of the sea front, it clearly gives the audience with a 3D imagery of the chosen fishing community area. In technicolor ( BTW the very first Malayalam color film ), the film quality is superb. The characters are shot close-up whenever necessary, as in a play and I liked this very much, a very Bergman/Ray technique. If you have eagle eye for film direction, you will not be disappointed.

ACTING : 10/10. Superb and faultless acting by Sathyan, Sheela and Madhu. And of course Kottarakkara, who played Sheela's greedy father. Sathyan's acting, although very arrogant and raw most of the time is exemplary to say the least. As I am getting older, I feel that Sheela, with her curvaceous, plump figure is actually a very attractive actress ( I never used to believe this, always thought Saradha was more beautiful and elegant). I suppose this is what old age does to you !

As a final summary note, I'd like to simply say, just go on, rent it or buy it on DVD and watch one of the best Malayalam films ever made. This film is an ARGE ( An All Round Good Egg ). ___________________________oOo______________________________________

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