The Magnifying Glass
(July 03, 2010 We TV)
Revisiting the movie after a decade , its contemporaneous relevance helps us get closer to the movie and the issues raised in it more than ever.
Lohita Das's first directorial attempt , Bhoothakannadi (1997) hasnt been in the limelight unlike many of the movies which he directed or wrote. At the most, the film used to be referred to as the one in which Mamooty came up with a high voltage performance as Vidhyadharan, the clocksmith.
Vidhyadharan, who is addressed as Mani (reference to 'time'?) in the early part of the movie is a man from the 'pre development' era. One whose existence is threatened by the arrival of sophisticated quartz watches. He also represents the 'silent' majority of the Keralian society.
In the scene (arguably one of the most haunting ones in Malayalam cinema) where his neighbour -who also happens to be the one closest to his heart on earth- runs desperately crying her heart out into the middle of the night looking for her lost daughter followed by the villagers, Vidhyadharan, instead of going out to console her, feels more concerned about his own daughter. Or rather weighed down by his cowardice, he seeks justification for his inaction by expressing concern for his own daughter. Thats when he moves away from his terra firma and hides himself in his attic. He starts losing his sense of time.
In the next part of the movie, Mani, who is now referred to as Vidhyadharan, when faced with the reality of taking care of a family with a new wife and his grown up daughter, once again feels comfy by moving further away from reality.
Instead of facing the challenge of real world, he looks through his paranoid glasses and 'discovers' that there are others who need his care , attention and voice in the virtual world. His personal challenges are substituted onto a broader scale of society and while he loses himself in a wider perspective , ends up in a state he is not even able to recognize his own daughter, let alone the issue of raising her up.
Parallels can be drawn to any of the issues currently being magnified by the people of Kerala and its media.
Incidentally in one of the scenes the protagonist is seen imitating the swinging movements of a pendulum , moving Left and then Right... Left and then Right....