Father who stays in US, comes to spend his vacation with his daughter and son in law but is unaware that she has been ditched. This prompts his friend to hire a man to play the role of her husband for the time being.
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It is unfortunate that this remarkable work is never recalled by many while listing major works of Indian cinema. To me, it is India's answer to Bergman's "Winter Light." M T Vasudevan Nair, like Bergman, wrote and directed a film on a religious man questioning God. In one film the individual decides to take his life after spitting at God, in the other he continues his vocation with a questionable spirit of renewed faith.
Nirmalayam won the top national honors but unfortunately never made the international marquee mainly because of the subject ("Winter Light" also never won awards, though it was Bergman's personal favorite until he made "Fanny and Alexander"). It deserved better marketing as its content is universal in a wider sense of secular religious sensibilities.
The film is gripping because of its endearing performance (theatrical realism in contrast to sophisticated subdued realism of the Bergman players) that a majority of Asian audiences prefer. Yet, the theatrical performance was not over the top and the late PJ Anthony won the acclaim in Kerala more than across India for a performance that was gradually forgotten.
The film is equally remarkable for its screenplay (with an unforgettable ending), its use of sound and the art direction. It was a fine debut for a filmmaker but unfortunately this achievement has been eclipsed by better marketing by less talented Indian filmmakers.
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