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Adoor Gopalakrishnan

One of the leading directors of the New Indian Cinema, Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in 1941. After graduating in Political Science and Economics, he joined the Film Institute in Pune in 1962. Equipped with formal training in Script writing and Direction, he went on to script and directed nine feature films and more than two dozen Shorts and Documentaries. His first film, Swayamvaram won the national awards for best film, best director, best cinematographer, and best actress setting a record of sorts. His film, Kathapurushan also won him the national award for the best feature film. He has won the national award for best director four times, and best script writer thrice. His films have been shown in, Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam, and Toronto, and every important festival round the world. Adoor's third feature, Elippathayam won him the coveted British Film Institute Award for the most original and imaginative film of 1982. The International Film Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) has gone to him five times successively for Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Mathilukal, Vidheyan and Kathapurushan.

His collection of essays, The World of Cinema was given the national award for the Best book on Cinema in 1984.

Important films


Swayamvaram - 1972 - Malayalam
(The Selection)

Vishwam, charged with ideologies in his mind, hopes for a life as a writer. He believes in an ideal society, which he finds as a utopian idea later, and agrees for a marriage with Seetha. The newly-wed couple reaches a city in search of a job. Vishwam has to be satisfied with a job at a tutorial college. Later, he loses this job and has to settle with a job at a saw mill. The clash between the ideologies he believed and the harsh realities disturbs him, which ultimately leads to illness, and his death. The film ends with the scene of Vishwam's perplexed wife gazing at a closed door.

Direction & Screenplay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Cast: Madhu, Sharada, Thikkurisi Sukumaran Nair, Gopi
Cinematography: Mangada Ravi Varma
Music: M B Srinivasan

Kodiyettam - 1977 - Malayalam
(The Ascent)

Shankaran Kutty lives a childish life even in his middle age. He just ignores his identity as a grown-up individual and wanders without taking up any responsibilities, and also without reacting to the insults on him by the society. His aim is aimlessness. It is the festive season, the drum beats at the temple, flying kites, speeding up vehicles, all which attracts him the most. It is this childish curiosity that takes Shankaran Kutty's life forward. But later he decides to change his life style, to start a new life.

Direction & Screenplay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Cast: Gopi, Lalitha, Aziz, Thikkurishi Sukumaran Nair
Cinematography: Mangada Ravi Varma

Elepathayam - 1981 - Malayalam
(The Rat Trap)

A feudal lord is like a rat trapped in a granary. The rat doesn't have to worry about the outer world that produces this wealth. But when the granary is empty, it turns out to be a rattrap. Elepathayam (1981), documents the fall of the feudal system in Kerala and the crisis faced by the lazy feudal lords who were puzzled about the new reality that unfolded.

Unnikunju and his sister live in an old feudal home, unable to adjust with the sudden social changes occurring in Kerala that lead to the fall of the feudal system. They refuse to change their mindsets to the new world outside them. Thus, their home changes to be a virtual rattrap for them. They finally have to face the imminent tragedy.

Direction & Screenplay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Cast: Karamana Janardhanan Nair, Sharada, Jalaja, Rajan K Nair
Cinematography: Mangada Ravi Varma
Music: M B Srinivasan

Mukhamukham - 1984 -Malayalam
(Face to face)

Sreedharan, a charismatic leader of a leftist trade union is the moral strength of the labourers going through a prolonged strike in a tile factory. The proprietor of the factory is killed and Sreedharan becomes the prime suspect. The police start hunting for him and he goes underground. While his comrades return to a more liberal political environment, Sreedharan doesn't return. He is believed to be dead.

The leftist party splits and the 'martyr' Sreedharan's memory remains the sole binding-factor for the split fractions.

One fine day, Sreedharan re-appears. But the returned Sreedharan proves to be disappointment to his comrades. He remains silent, spends his time sleeping and drinking. His presence becomes a liability for his comrades.

Sreedharan is found one day beaten to death under mysterious circumstances. He instantly gains a hero status.

Direction & Screenplay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Cast: Ganga, Balan K Nair, Kaviyoor Ponnamma
Cinematography: Mangada Ravi Varma
Music: M B Srinivasan