Directed by: Hariharan
Written by : M.T.Vasudevan Nair
Problem addressed: Women enforcement and breaking of traditional rituals and its shackles
The movie, released in 1994 still remains one of contemporary relevance. The movie telling the story of an intelligent and artistically blessed young Namboothiri woman named Unnimaya (Mohini) is a harsh criticism of then society. She is married off to a sixty year old man who dies shortly after their marriage leaving her a widow.
The prejudice faced by widows in the past is accurately portrayed in the movie. She is warded off from all pleasures of life. No other man should see her face and thus she remains locked inside the house like a caged bird along with two other wives of him. She falls in love with the young Madhavan (Vineeth) who is a Kathakali artist. The following events land her as a victim of Samarthavicharam. A trial held by Namboothiri men in which the woman who engrossed the barricades of society is reduced to a thing. She is called as 'sadanam'. This was a practice among the community which held women inferior and hardly considered them as equals lest mortals. The inquisitors can give any type of punishment to the victim without anybody questioning them.
The character of significance here is Kochunni (Manoj K. Jayan). He is a representative of the modern Kerala, who works for the upheaval of Namboodiri women and invites great displeasure of the elders. He is staunch in his beliefs and openly thrashes out at the inquisitors. The movie can be read along with V.T.Bhattathiripad's 'Akulayil Ninnu Arangatheku' (From Kitchen to Stage). The movie in itself has a duality. Through the character of Unnimaya, Hariharan has depicted both the past and future of women in Kerala particularly Namboodiri women. The way she emerges as a strong and independent woman speaks volumes about the impact of social reformation movements that took place within Kerala during that period. The movie clearly hints that certain practices which are only intended to hurt and harass victims like Smarthavicharam should be broken in order to invite a new dawn.