usa special
hyd scene

Some Ramblings - Mithunam (2012)
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Extracting the juice out of the sugarcane put through a grinder is an interesting watch. The first few iterations go smoothly with majority of the juice squeezed out by the crushing rollers. A couple more passes starts making the process a tad tough. But the vendor doesn't do away with what already looks like pulp just yet. He twists and folds it, with some difficulty, adding only at that stage, a wedge of lime or a slice of ginger. The pulp rolls through and yields some more, but this has an extra zing to it, so much that there are often special requests to pass it back and forth again, as it is no longer just about the sweetness, but the spice of ginger and bitterness of lime that reinvigorated the lifeless pulp. On paper, two people staying together long after the passions cool off and the essence is squeezed out, seems an unnatural proposition. Falling out of fondness is the natural order, for that is how nature maintains perpetuity. So how much more juice gets left in a lifelong relationship? Sriramana's 'Mithunam' show just how much more. The story about an aged couple is not just about the sweet nothings of their twilight times, it is also about the bitter fights, tart repartees, curt conversations and leisure ruminations. Their conversations are not so much about the content, as they are about the intent to engage one another. Same is the case with the silly feuds over trivial things that always but end up with a quick rapprochement over a delicious snack or a sumptuous meal. The feuds are the wedges of lime or the slices of ginger that are slipped into the pulp for that extra bite in the final extract. And the effort of twisting it and folding it back in each iteration with increasing difficulty is to savor the sweetness (of the companionship) till the dying drop, down to the final moment. The contexts of the conversations (food, fruits and flowers) are mere excuses whose only real purpose is to draw/drag the other party in for the verbal joust, with a preordained destiny attached to the result - talk, fight and make-up. 'Quality time' for them is never about the quality than it is about the time they spend with each other. The new age terms like 'giving space for each other', 'respecting each other's boundaries' find no place here. This is the land of 'అర్ధ నారీశ్వరం' and 'వాగర్ధా వివసంపృక్తౌ'. Here, the lines of fates intersect, interject, intertwine and intervene with each other till death do them apart, and till then their circles of lives are pretty concentric revolving around the same things. With all its misgivings and rough edges, this is a perfect union, this is 'Mithunam'.

Bharani, the erstwhile playwright, transformed this short story about food, fights (and food fights), the flora and the fauna, about the seemingly nothingness in the mundane conversations of a geriatric couple, about the ripe old lives that lead their days fighting like little kids and making up like the newly weds, into a ballad of interdependence, into a ballet of harmony, replete with the highs and the lows, the sharps and the flats. While the original story had the advantage of a first person narrative, in an interesting directorial choice, Bharani, a traditional wordsmith, chooses a predominantly visual approach, reserving words only to essential moments. He even expands the breadth (and depth) of the original, without compromising its integrity, contemporizes the colloquy, without losing the essence, and adds his own flourishes (the 'ఆకాశవాణి' cues to capture the mood and the moment) to an already pretty self-contained story. That which could only be imagined on a stage, this two-character play, truly shines on the celluloid with some great production design that include age old doors with broken heels, the vacuum tube radios, the tools and implements of the yore, the near rusty draw buckets near the well, the hazy frames of deities on the walls, the lush greenery of the back yards (grown specially for the purpose).... and the list goes on. The level of detailing to show the aged house is exemplary. And finally, the artists - SPB and Lakshmi. Against his usually tendency to over compensate his lack of physical movement with emotion, SPB restrains himself greatly at both the extremes, as playful kid and as an aged gentleman. with he twinkle of the eye evening out the sadness in his face, the wrinkles of his age smoothed over by the youthfulness of his voice, the playfulness with his wife balancing out the gravity of his years. And Lakshmi is dignity personified, matching SPB word for word, expression for expression, pathos for pathos. It would be a grave injustice if the both of them do not find themselves among prestigious recognitions this year. This is not the usual acting, reacting or emoting, this is bringing to life characters in ink.

As is the norm, great works of literature seldom translate their richness on bigger fora. But by sticking to simplicity of the theme, the innocence of the characters and the vivacity of their relationship, Bharani confidently defies the conventional wisdom and proudly shows how it is done. Kudos!

checkout for Srinivas's Blog

Tell Srinivas Kanchibhotla how you liked the article

More Ramblings on films
Sky Fall
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Businessman
The Avengers
The Artist
Money Ball
Adventures of Tintin
Mission Impossible: Ghosty Porotocol
Sri Ramarajyam
The Ides of March
The Tree of Life
Super 8
Teen Maar
Inside Job
127 hours
The king's speech
The social network
Peepli [live]
Kick Ass
Ye Maya Chesave
Maya Bazaar
3 Idiots
Inglorious Basterds
District 9
The Hurt Locker
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
Quantom of Solace
The Dark Knight
Wall - E
The incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones and the kingdom of crystal skull
Speed Racer
Iron Man
Jodha Akbar
There will be blood
Chrlie Wilson's War
No Country for Old Men
Om Shanti Om
Lions for Lambs
American Gangster
Michael Clayton
Happy Days
Chak De India!
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Simpsons Movie
The Grindhouse
Casino Royale
The Departed
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Superman Returns
The Da Vinci Code
Sri Ramadasu
Rang De Basanti (Hindi)
Jai Chiranjeeva!
Munich (English)
Sarkar (Hindi)
Mangal Padey (Hindi)
Kaadhal (Tamil)
Anukokunda Oka Roju
Batman Begins (English)
Radha Gopalam
Mughal E Azam
Virumandi (Tamil)
Lakshya (Hindi)
Yuva (Hindi)
Kakha Kakha (Tamil)
Mr & Mrs Iyer
Nuvve Nuvve


This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
emailabout usprivacy policycopy rightsidle stuff