Dir: M.P.Sukumaran Nair
Malayalam, 116 minutes
The movie throws a light on the baseless separation in society with regard to religion and community.
Ramanam or ‘the Night Sky’ shows the life of a rich muslim merchant, Thangal, in rural Kerala. Thangal upholds age old family traditions, is helpful in nature and is a man of ecular beliefs. The story takes us through a part of his life where he decides to help Neeli, a girl found unconscious on ‘Valiya Thangal’s’ grave. Neeli, as we come to know later is the wife of a naxalite who is caught bythe police. She is a Hindu woman and is in the family way.
At about the same time we come to know that Thangal’s wife is also pregnant with a girl child.
Thangal pays for Neeli’s requirement and makes sure she gets all care required till the time her baby is delivered. However, Neeli dies as soon as she gives birth to a baby boy. Thangal at this point of time is at his place where his wife is also about to deliver the child. As soon as the girl is born, Thangal’s helpers come to inform him of Neeli’s death.
He names his own girl, Pookunji Beevi and Neeli’s Child is called Kunjali. He decides to adopt the child even though he’s of a Hindu origin. He requires of his wife to feed Kunjali too. His wife, doesn’t appreciate Thangal’s decision to adopt the child and despises him, but obeys her husband with repeated taunts about the boy.
Kunjali is made to stay with the house maid. A lovable woman with a husband who never cares for her, she takes care of Kunjali as if he were the son she never had. Pookunji and Kunjali grow up together. Infact, we see Thangal just as much careful with Kunjali’s upbringing, as he is of his own daughter’s.
While the society murmers against Thangal’s decisions, he remains unaffected. Kunjali is converted into a Muslim and is circumcised, there are objections to this but Thangal ignores, revising the fact that when the child was motherless, no Hindu woman turned up to help him. The child had to be breast-fed by a muslim woman.
Meanwhile, Pookunji grows up to go against conservative Muslim laws with the support of her father and ‘brother’. She becomes a student politician and learns the Hindu temple art ‘Nangyarkoothu’.
Once while preparing to perform this at a temple festival, the temple committee disagrees with Pookunji performing at the temple as a response to the post-Babri-Masjid riots in the country.
However, pookunji with the help of her fellow student supporters performs. The stage but, is set to fire in retaliation.
The movie ends with Pookunji’s decorated body lying lifeless on the sea shore.
References in the story to the Title
The Night sky is constantly referred to, not directly, but, through constant recitals of Myths that involve the moon or heavenly objects as central characters.
The Moon is given the identity of an indulgent lover mostly.
The movie spans over 116 minutes. Within the movie, over 20 years are covered. The pace of the movie however seems a little slow with the idea of ‘deep thought’ or a ‘troubled mind’ is emphasized with longer shots involving little or no noticeable action.
An omniscient narrator tells the story of what happens to Thangal and his life mostly.
However, parts of the movie also focus on Beekutty and Kunjali’s relation with a doubtful question on whether or not, Beekutty’s fascination for her brother was beyond a brother-sister relation.
I feel the movie shows a clear cut distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Though no one is entirely bad, Thangal, I think is portrayed very ‘white’ as is his attendant played by Indrans.
Thangal’s wife in ‘grey shades’ seems closer to black. She is a little selfish, forever taunting and cribs almost always.
The children, the maid servant and her husband come across as purely innocent.
The Princess and the Jin
The maid recites to Pookunji, the myth of the princess who wants to marry a Jin and in her desire is found “kissed to death” by a Jin on the night she was married. “She lay on the seashore dressed in Silk and Gold”. The movie ends with Pookunji on the sea sore in the exact manner while even as an end to the act she was supposed to put up on the stage. With a bird’s eye-view angle of the camera, her being alone is emphasized, while her father lies dead on the verandah.