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10. Agnishakshi Film is loyal to novel
     The Indian Express, September 14th, 1998

At last, a film which does justice to the literary work from which it takes birth. Agnisakshi, Shyamaprasad's adaptation of Lalithambika Antharjanam's celebrated novel by the same name, showcases a stunning performance by Rajit Kapoor and some sensitive direction by Shyamaprasad.

The film, premiered at the Soorya festival today, was lapped up by an appreciative audience.

Shyamaprasad, who has already left his mark on the small screen with TV serials which are more than a notch or two above the many which have invaded the idiot box, shows that he is equally at ease working on a larger canvas. The deft touches are that of a veteran, even if there is one song too many.

Set in the 1940s in a Namboodiri Illam, the story of Agnisakshi unfurls through the snatches of memories of Thankam, a mute spectator who is caught between the main characters Unni and Devaki, and the complexities in their relationship. Unni and Devaki, newly married, love each other but their concept of love differs. Devaki and Thankam share a close bond.

Bound by tradition and willing to hurt himself rather than see others in pain, Unni is unable to be the husband which Devaki wants him to be. The world is changing outside and Devaki, wanting to step out, wants Unni to release it. Unni does, but knows there are others in the illam who do not. Devaki leaves Unni when tradition comes in the way of meeting her mother who is on her death bed. Devaki is willing to come back but makes it clear that she would not apologize for her deed. Unni does not go to fetch her but his love only grows with time.

The passage of time brings about changes not only in society but in individuals too. Devaki plunges into the freedom struggle. Unni's younger brother succumbs to the lure of power and money. Thankam forgets the past, even if momentarily, Unni, perhaps the only one not to change, spends his old age in the temple, alone and in touch with the one above. Devaki finally embraces spirituality. She is now able to understand Unni more.

The film does not have characters either in pure black or white. Without resorting to syrupy sentimentalism, Shyamaprasad manages to retain the emotional thread throughout the film. The performances are the major highlight.

Rajit Kapoor virtually lives the roles of Unni. Praveena, as Thankam in her youth, is a major surprise. Here is a definite talent. Shobhana is good as usual. Srividya, Madhupal, Sreenath, Madambu Kunhukuttan and Krishnankumar are all good, adding to the overall effect of the film.

Agnisakshi was filmed by Azhakappan. It has lyrics and music by Kaithapram and background score by Jayachandran.

Produced by Dr Gautham Babu and Dr Somaprasad, the film has art direction by Premachandran and editing by Beena.
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