The bitter experiences of my life have shaken my faith in ethics, goodness and the sublime values of life. However the movies like Raagam (1975) is one such phenomena which reassures me that these noble things have not vanished altogether and one should not allow his faith in them to be evaporated.
The decade of seventies when medicine had not made much progress in our country and the persons who happened to have caught some lethal decease, were seldom able to survive; Mollywood presented many movies whose protagonist was a Jeevikkunna hridhayamulla person with an ever-present smile on lips and possessing a jolly nature with a never-say-die spirit but suffering from a lethal decease. Such protagonist, but natural, died in the end, leaving all his loving ones as grief-stricken behind him. Chithrashalabham (1998), Ithu Nhanghalude Katha (1982) and Daisy (1988) were certain movies in this genre. Raagam also falls into that category only. The difference is that this movie presents a child suffering from cancer who donates his eyes to a blind girl so that she could see the world through his eyes after his demise.
This kind-hearted and nice child of Raagam (Melody) is Babu (Nataraj) who is the grandson of Vishwanatha Menon (Adoor Bhasi) who has already lost his son and now invested all his love in his little grandson Babu. He lives with his widow daughter-in-law (Sharadha) and sees the shadow of his lost son in Babu only, teaching him all the virtues and noble values of life. Babu happens to come across a blind girl Shreedhevi (Luxme) who lives in a charitable home meant for girls like her only. She is a good sculptor and through Babu, she comes into contact with Babu's mother and grandfather on one hand and a nice boy Madhu (Mohan) on the other. Madhu falls in love with her and decides to make her his life partner. However his father Dharmmapaalan (Shankaradi) gets ready for their marriage only when Shreemathi gets her sight back. It is known after her relevant medical examination that it's possible only when some donor gives his / her eyes for transplantation in her body. Suddenly Babu is found to be suffering from cancer which has gone beyond the stage of treatment. Coming to know this truth, Babu decides to donate his eyes to his loving Chechi, i.e., Shreemathi and finally Shreemathi is able to see this world through Babu's eyes. The movie gets emotional and turns into a tear-jerker in its final half an hour only. Prior to that, it's mainly a feelgood movie which producer-director A.Bheemsingh has made in the style of the prestigious Jammu Films of Mollywood. Certain(both tragic and comic) sequences of this movie remind us Shafi's blockbuster movie Kalyaanaraaman(2002). The story is flat and told as such only. We see good people with their good thoughts and gestures only. Except for the caricaturesque character of Madhu's father who is a miser but ready to spend money for the sake of fame and honour, all the characters shown are completely positive and virtuous. Prior to the tragic twist in the story, the narrative consists of comic situations and dialogs which may not be able to provoke laughter in the viewer but certainly brings a smile to his / her lips.
The incident of Babu's trying to understand how it feels to be blind reminds me of a story 'The School for Sympathy' read by me in my English textbook when I was in my secondaries. His deliberately not solving all the questions in the examination so that another boy who is needy of scholarship, is able to get the first rank, also reminds me of a similar story read by me in my Hindi textbook during my primaries. Through these episodes, the filmmaker has highlighted the virtues embedded in the character of this child which touches as well as inspires the audience.
Raagam is a simple movie, not lavish. It is technically good all the same and every frame of it is beautiful. It is a compact movie which only was the right thing to do for the filmmaker considering its wafer-thin storyline.
Salil Choudhari has composed good music for the movie with the help of the beautiful lyrics of Vayalar Ramavarmma. Devoid of any chartbusters, this album contains ear-soothing and soul-soothing songs like Aa Kayyilo, Ambaadi Poonkuyile, Guruvaayoorappan, Ivide Kaattinu Sugandham and a very good lullaby - Naadan Paattile Maina.
Child artist Nataraj has performed very well in the pivotal role whereas Tamil actress Lakshmi has also done satisfactorily in this debut Malayalam movie of herself. Seasoned actors Adoor Bhasi, Sharadha, Shankaradi, Mallika Sukumaran, Bahadoor, Jose Prakash etc. all have done their parts satisfactorily alongwith the romantic hero Mohan. A.Bhimsingh's favourite actor T.P Madhavan has delivered a touching performance in his special appearance in the role of flower-seller Gangaraam. Raagam won the State Award for the best movie which is surprising as this movie is a very simple movie and was not a blockbuster as well. All the same, it's to be admitted that such movies emphatically underscore that goodness does exist even today which is to be preserved and nurtured. The good and virtuous people as shown in the movie may be difficult to find in today's selfish times but their race has not gone extinct. The dumbfound(with grief) character of Adoor Bhasi rightly asserts that God forces the strictest of tests of life on such people only. And it's their greatness that even then they do not give up their goodness and noble values of life adopted by them.
I recommend this lovely and inspiring movie to one and all.h
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