Chayilyam is an eye opener. We are masters in turning every real feelings into formalities-love into wedding, spirituality into religion etc. Modern society has become schizophrenic turning every original biological occurrence into superstitions. Thus blossoming of womanhood is under utter believes of dark superstition A girl on his periods is treated as an outcast. Women are elevated as goddesses only if it benefits those in power. The original feelings of womanhood and motherhood are never taken care of by the present society. Women are but easy prey in the modern hostile society. Manoj Kana, the gifted Director direct from the world of drama focuses these issues in his debut film Chaliyam. Chaliyam means the red paint used to colour the faces of theyyam. It dwells in detail how religious believes paint masks around original faces leading everyone into pseudo personalities. In the beginning all religious believes should have been conceived as an ordered way of life. But as times pass the same believes degenerate and decays. It kills originality. Manoj takes the cue from the pseudo believes of the society. There is a mass hysteria going on in the name of belief which is totally against women. Society use women for maintaining an order which enslaves them further. Chaliyam is the story of a girl who understands this facts distinctly She fights with the society with all her might alone. Can she change year old believes? No ! But she poses a serious question- Are we all sane?
Gouri a village girl belonging to the malaya community falls in love with a boy belonging to vannan community. Even though both these communities makes their livelihood by performing theyyams, inter caste marriage between the communities is strictly forbidden. To make matters worse, one day while he was performing kathivanoor veeran, his uncle die of heart attack in the sanctum sanatorium which is very inauspicious. Everyone searches reasons of this odd occurrence Kannan openly confesses his first sin before everyone. He had indulged in the 'sacrilegious' act of making love to his beloved just before the performance of the theyyam. This cuts a hole in his psyche. The incident turned to be the end of his artistic career as he was expelled from his home and community. The lovers elope to a friends home. Deprived of his artistic livelihood he is compelled to undertake hard labour at a stone mine. Life turns to be a real toil. A son was born to the couple. They settle in a hut constructed in a Govt. Land. Here things turn upside down as Kannan out of melancholy turns into an alcoholic beating his wife and son and finally committing suicide.
The film opens with the widow accompanying his father in law, a traditional vaidyar to their home. Here everyone opposes her. The community elders came and threaten the family to expel them from the community and from performing theyyams if they allowed the widow to live with them. Gouri hearing the heated arguments reaches a trance. Shouting and howling she performs a peculiar theyyam dance known to the elders as daivakoothu performed in the village years ago by women. All present were taken aback and after the melee every one concludes that she is the incarnation of mother goddess. The news spreads fast and everyone competes to worship her. She and her father in law (who takes her to a psychiatric who attribute the symptoms to an early menopause seems to be normal but the entire community turns psychic and compel her to perform the daivakoothu usually played by women after menopause She out of compulsion consent to play for only once where as the Hindu fanatics who visit her want her to be changed permanently as a mother goddess. The 41 day penance is about to end and she had to perform the theyyam the coming day. Torn between her motherhood and her spiritual adherence her periods returns back thanks to the treatment she has been undergoing under her father in law. She blossoms into a women again and her son who was wholly against the entire idea of this madness visit her at mid night and they escape in a boat to freedom.
Film making was no easy task to Manoj Kana. This gifted youngster has directed some 15 dramas which were well received He collected the huge amount for shooting from 'bucket collection'. He took great pains to get the film released. Finally the opposition leader has to intervene to get it released.
The crew gave good support to the director. Anumol who played Gouri needs special mention. She was exceptionally good portraying the different moods in a superb way.
I saw the film yesterday from Sumangali theatre, Payyanur. It was the last show and there was a good audience. But no one left their seats after the film is over. The end was so abrupt. It should have been shot much more vividly. Last impression is the lasting impression. It was as though some calamity has occurred which had prevented the film to close naturally
There indeed are some negative points. Being the debut film these are not serious. Some scenes reminds an earlier movie on the same subject. The scene with the Hindu fanatics seems to be patched up.
The film is indeed a commendable venture.