Elippathayam ( Rat Trap) is the third film by Adoor and is supposed to be the first one to bring him international acclaim. However, this is first time I saw any of his films and I was taken aback at the way the movie begins. A household of three a brother and two grown up sisters are disturbed from their sleep as a rat's bites the brother. Immediately followed one of the most OTT scenes I ever witnessed. The three of them run to and fro in the house trying to catch the rat. We see only their legs and hear a weird background score. I was shocked at all this. I had taken considerable pains to come to watch this movie at NFAI and I was like WTF!. Is this a film by the Great Adoor , the director who's supposed to have made 9 PERFECT films in his 43 year career, the man considered to be the heir of Satyajit Ray in the Indian Cinema? But soon my fears were put to rest as the film seemed to have come to senses and everything was shown perfectly. It was as if I was a member of this small family and am watching whats going on the lives of Rajamma ,an over aged unmarried girl who does all the household chores, a college going Sridevi and their brother Unni. The film looks at Unni, played brilliantly by Karamana Janardhan Nair, who's the head of this family and is stubborn, narcissistic,feudalistic and an escapist to the core. And much more. According to the director the film is a "a detailed study of a character at many levels -- psychological, physical, social, even genetic, based on his roots. I gave primary colors to the characters' clothes and a predominant gray to the background. "
Through various incidents that happen in this family, we get to know the contrasting personalities of the three siblings. We see an old family relative bringing up a match of a widower for Rajamma (played brilliantly by Sharada), a stray cow eating the leaves of the banana tree in their yard, Unni trimming his mustache with utmost concentration, thieves stealing away their coconuts, some relatives who drop in on them,the love story of Sridevi, Rajamma falling sick and so on. Amidst all these, we notice that the rat trap set by the younger sister is working and that it catches quite a few rats. And every time a rat is trapped, Sridevi takes the trap with the trapped rat to a pond situated a little away from the house and drowns it there. This scene is in fact a motif and occurs quite regularly - and each time we notice that the camera is located in a particular position vis-a-vis the road , and that Sridevi always walks in a particular style and speed, and a background music composed mainly of the drums used in folk music.And always the scene ends with a shot of a ripple in the pond and a crow singing in the background. Later in the movie, when we see the same scene sans the rat and the trap, we learn what exactly the rat trap Adoor is talking about. However the best is kept for the climax - when we see various people moving to and fro in a house , as we see only their legs and we hear the same weird music which we hear in the first scene, providing us with a brilliant insight. One of the interesting points about the movie is that except in the above mentioned scenes, there's no background music at all. About it, Adoor says "The music was also much more than a mere background score; it was employed as a significant constituent of the film in its thematic development." On the whole a GREAT movie. 10/10.
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