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16. Regional Richness
     by Amita Malik, Sight and Sound, The Pioneer, 11th November 1995

Those of us, who keep on sitting pretty in Delhi and Bombay, tend to think that the centre of TV serials is Bombay, with Delhi coming a very late second. Of the very first serials on Doordarshan, some of the best were scripted in Delhi and whole generations of actors were spawned in the Capital, who later gravitated to Bombay.

But lately, while the national and metro channels have been awash with the worst kind of soaps - the longer and more ambitious they are, the more boring and pretentious they get - the regions, it seems, have been getting on quietly with quality stuff, and we in the Capital and Bombay have not even heard of them.

And while Bombay's soaps have become more and more soapy, murky and monotonous, with high society, crime and plain filmi sex and violence, Bengal and Kerala, at least, have produced two outstanding serials, short two episode ones at that, which left me stunned as well as touched when I recently had the privilege of seeing them on video.

MALAYALAM SERIAL, A REVELATION

The Malayalam serial, Nilavu Ariyunnu made by Doordarshan, was a real revelation. The credit is given to M G Sasi but I gather it is an employee of DD, who trained at the Film Institute, who is largely responsible for this outstanding work.

I think Doordarshan has a potentially great film-maker on its staff and should do its best to nurture him and give him every opportunity to continue with his obviously highly promising career in film-making.

The story in itself, is unusual. A young Malayalam couple lives in Bombay. The highly sensitive husband, shattered by the Bombay riots, has a nervous breakdown. He sees a psychiatrist who advises him to go back to his village to recover. But while returning to his loving parents is an obvious palliative, over them hangs the shadow of an uncle who had an obsession with cleanliness and washing his hands and who, finding no water in the house, goes in search of it on the river (or sea) bank, and gets caught in quicksand and dies.

Everything is done for the young husband, a complicated havan included. But in the end, in spite of every precaution, he also slips out, goes in search of water, and is swallowed by the quicksand.
The direction is masterly, restrained and controlled; every cinematic use is made of the beautiful old house and the Kerala landscape. The acting is quiet, equal use is made of sound, music and the camera. This two part serial grips us from start to finish and leaves one enthralled.

I repeat, the director is someone to watch, likely to follow in the footsteps of Aravindan and other great film makers of the region. Doordarshan is lucky to have him.

 
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