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Kodiyettam (1977)

Sankarankutty, a village simpleton, lives a carefree life, indulges in childish pursuits, lives off the money given to him by his sister (working elsewhere as a servant), and eats quite ... See full summary »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Santhamma (as Lalitha)
(as Thikkurissi)
Lorry Driver
B.K. Nair
Aranmulla Ponnamma
Vilasini ...
Sankarankutty's Sister (as Vilasini)
Santhamma's Mother
Adoor Pankajam
Kavalam Narayana Panicker ...
Venukuttan Nair ...
(as P.K. Venukuttan Nair)
S. Ramankutty Nair
Varadarajan Nair
Tea Shop Owner


Sankarankutty, a village simpleton, lives a carefree life, indulges in childish pursuits, lives off the money given to him by his sister (working elsewhere as a servant), and eats quite voraciously. Then one day he gets married, but the wife is frustrated by his aimless lifestyle & irresponsible attitude (even after she gets pregnant). So she goes back to her parents. Meanwhile, his sister who is now living with her lover, can no longer provide for him, and a kind widow who used to care for him passes away. He has nowhere & nobody to fall back on, and from this point on, as he starts a job as assistant to a lorry driver, he starts looking at life in a whole new way and begins to mature as well. Written by ajmal hussain

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User Reviews

a sweet-tempered idler gets real - amusing drama comedy!
7 March 2015 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

i always enjoy film where protagonist develops somehow during the film and begins to show some symptoms of personal growth or ethical reorientation. adoor gopalakrishnan's film from 1977 is such a delightful film. the main character is a lazy good-for-nothing already in his thirties and some kind of a harmless village idiot though he is not a dope. sankarankutty is only lazy and inefficient fellow because he has apparently been spoilt by the over-nurturing women around him all his life (like many other Indian men i guess?). his sister who visits him frequently takes care of his material needs because sankarankutty just loafs around his time. sankarankutty likes to play with village kids but he also has a soft spot for a widow next door although nothing comes out of it. however social norms force him eventually to marry a girl who soon grows tired of the husbands idle loitering and the disappointed wife returns back to her mother. the sad state of affairs is perhaps not permanent: the film appears to have a happier ending when sankarankutty finally gets real and grows up. he even manages to have a job thus being able to take responsibility of his life - and of his family as well because there is now a baby he has to take care of, too. the reasons for this gradual maturation to adulthood are not explicitly articulated but there are few hints for the interpretation. the observant viewer will quite easily find them.

on basic level kodiyettam is a drama comedy about a jovial and good-natured man who is lost in the modern world. on more allegorical level you can interpret it as description of Indian civilisation process from the British colonialist rule to independence. on ethical and ideological level you can see it as personal evolution from natural state of a child with no worries towards more mature and more serious adult way of living which always means transition into more established (middle-class) cultural and social order. its charm is that it offers many interpretations but does not feed you anything by force. you can even watch it without any deeper interpretations (like most viewers usually do).

the black and white cinematography is fine and the movie has many intelligent visual compositions to be spotted though you may sometimes feel a little awkward when the linearity of the story vaguely vanishes somewhere and then it continues from a different point but that does not happen too often to be really disturbing. i could almost see that the film has some kind of "satyajit ray" touch in its storytelling though essentially lacking ray's psychological deepness of the characters or his poetic visual aesthetics.

if you have a chance to watch this - or any other of gopalakrishnan's film, especially "rat-trap" (1982) or nizhalkkuthu (2002) - use it. i do not think you regret it. and indians: you should appreciate more your old movies. i have no doubt there are even more hidden gems yet to be discovered in India which are also internationally interesting and reward the audience with their appealing charm.

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