I first saw Neelakkuyil when I was about 9 or 10, back in Kerala, during a re-release of the film in the early 70's. At the time, I couldn't really understand the true essence of the film, but enjoyed the songs immensely. Everyone was whistling the tunes in those days. Since then I have seen it 5 times, at various stages of my life and have fallen in love with this film, because it is such a good film, full of inspirational messages. It awakened me to ask questions, important questions on life and its meaning. In summary, it is a film about untouchably, so that Sree Narayana Guru's universal message of "one in kind, one in faith, one in God is man" shines through beautifully in this gem of a film.
STORY: 10/10. The story is simple ( By the way, following is not going to spoil your viewing )- an untouchable girl is found dead with her illegitimate child, the child is adopted by a postman, a high caste Hindu. No one knows the true identity of the real father of the child, until the child's real father, also an upper caste Hindu acknowledges paternity. As the story unfolds, the real father becomes agitated by guilt and anguish and then finally questions his previous actions. The film ends with the Master's own resolutions and true acceptance of his own child and self.
DIRECTION: 9/10. The film can be split into four distinct segments: Happiness & Innocence, Sorrow & Denial, Regrets & Self Analysis, Revelations & Resolutions. The film questions the basic principles of actions and reactions, these are carefully explained using the central character, an upper caste school master (Sathyan). The story is guided along by two other characters: the auteur, who is the postman, played by P.Bhaskaran and the untouchable girl, Neeli, played by Miss Kumari. Both P.Bhaskaran and Ramu Kariat handles the camera with intelligence throughout the film.
ACTING : 10/10. Superb and faultless acting by Sathyan, P.Bhaskaran and Miss Kumari.
This Malayalam film is a 'timeless' film. Its a perfect film, that is, there isn't a single bit of film that can be edited out, without it losing its true rationale and intentions. The film, taken from an original story and screenplay by Uroob, produced by K.Parikutty, delighted the audiences when it was released and has remained a classic for its simplicity and memorable songs. The cinematographer A.Vincent and music director K.Raghavan, along with all others mentioned above, formed an effective, influential group of young dynamic talents of that era in the history of Keralean literature and art. If film, by definition, is a medium through which you can view the people and culture of our world, well, this film embodies that message clearly.
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