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Govardhan, a doctor by profession, is wrongly accused of bombing a train and is jailed by the British in Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He witnesses sufferings of hundreds of Indian prisoners there.
In "Kubla Khan", Samuel Taylor Coleridge creates the image of an Abyssinian maid singing, playing a dulcimer. He says that if he could revive that symphony and her song, he would build that castle in the air,; the castle that Kubla Khan had decreed.
As I finished watching this fascinating, unique film, John Altman's soft music with flute and violin was still ringing in my heart. i sat still for a moment, in perfect meditation. I had to say "Thank you" to the maker of this film whose last film i had watched nearly twenty years ago; and which of course was an equally cathartic experience.
"Akasha Gopuram" is a Malayalam film shot in Europe; but as in his earlier films, K.P Kumaran subverts the concepts of stardom (by making Mohan Lal a detestable anti-hero, making him say his lines in typically artificial manner so that his insincerity becomes so palpable) by creating bold and unconventional female characters in Geetu Mohandas's cameo role as Manoj K Jayan's wife and Hilda, the unannounced arrival at Albert's door from somewhere. Instead of taking the viewer on a trip through the usual landmarks of Europe, the location becomes merely a stage set in a nowhereland so that the drama that unfolds there becomes truly universal. i felt that the choice of Europe as the backdrop for the film was terrific; not because the story is based on Ibsen's play. It (Europe) invokes the cold and the bitter.
When people hear that John Altman does the music for the film, the expectation might be of a cacophony of Western wind instruments, but Altman's music is so cleverly used by K.P that it becomes merely a scenic backdrop for the film's dreamscape where the architect of the film builds his "castle in the air".
Flashbacks form a vital part of the film and they are masterfully crafted.
K.P Kumaran has given a lesson in screen "behaviour" to actors like Lal and Sreenivasan and the late Gopi, actors who can overwhelm a film maker and destroy its beauty and depth.
The only problem i have is with the translation of "Akasha Gopuram" as "Castle in the Air". It is too literal. For a film of such unprecedented depth, literal translation like that sounds a trifle commonplace.
Having been a keen follower of K.P Kumaran's filmography, i hope this film goes a long way in according this Master Builder the place he really deserves in Malayalam film industry. Congratulations to him for being able to create such an unforgettable film.
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