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Revisiting Ore Kadal: Exemplary direction coupled with great performances

The film based on Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel Hirak Deepthi stars Mammootty and Meera Jasmine in lead roles

Revisiting Ore Kadal: Exemplary direction coupled with great performances
  • Arya Harikumar

Last Updated: 04.46 PM, Sep 01, 2022

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Shyamaprasad established himself as a director who can effectively bring to screen the complexities of human relationships and the harsh realities of life with his very first film. Even though most of his films do not fall under the category of commercial or mass entertainers, they keep the viewers invested in the story from beginning to end, thanks to well-written screenplays, fully fleshed-out character arcs, and Shyamaprasad’s commendable direction. His films such as Agnisakshi, Akale, Artist, and Arike are some of the best films ever made in Malayalam cinema, and they cemented his place as one of the finest directors in the industry. Another film that proves his exemplary directorial and writing skills is the 2007 film Ore Kadal (The Sea Within). Based on Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel Hirak Deepthi, the film explores the complex relationship between a renowned economist and a housewife.

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Dr S.R. Nathan is a world-famous economist who follows a no-strings-attached policy. Emotions and relationships do not hold any place in his life as he believes that society is ruled by economics and not emotions. He gets acquainted with Deepthi, a housewife when she approaches him seeking money to treat her sick son. She becomes a frequent visitor at Nathan’s flat, and even requests him to arrange a job for her husband. Things take a turn when their interaction ends up in an intimate moment between the two. The repercussions of their actions were traumatic and damaging for Deepthi. Guilt takes over her mind and she slowly spirals into madness.

There is a child-like innocence to Deepthi that makes it hard for us to not empathise with her. She enjoys Nathan’s company and finds it as an escape from her ordinary life. Moreover, she has high regard for his intellectuality. All she wanted was to be loved and accepted by Nathan but his absolute callousness and apathy to her feelings make her feel disgusted with herself. And it’s safe to say that no other actress would have aced this role better than Meera Jasmine. Jasmine gets into the skin of her character with effortless ease and delivers a measured performance.

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Mammootty plays the self-centred and alcoholic economist to perfection. Not many would agree with Nathan’s philosophies but Mammootty’s presence adds charm and aura to the character which is difficult to ignore. Nathan refuses to be in a committed relationship and views women just as means to fulfil his sexual urges. But as the film progresses, he gets caught up in emotional turmoil as he feels guilty for being the reason behind Deepthi’s breakdown. By the end of the second half, we realise that he too is human with feelings and emotions.

The film also explores its characters’ moral dilemmas, especially Deepthi’s. The guilt that surfaces inside her are a result of society's expectations of her as a married woman. She believes she committed a great sin by being intimate with a man who is not her husband. This is also reflective of her middle-class upbringing. Whereas Nathan comes from a privileged class, and his thinking and way of life are very different from that of Deepthi. However, the beauty of the film is that Shyamaprasad takes a non-judgmental stand and leaves a lot unsaid with plenty of scope for interpretation.

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The two other characters that are integral to the narrative are Deepthi’s husband Jayakumar, and Nathan’s friend Bela. Jayakumar doesn’t come across as a very likeable character at first but by the second half, the character undergoes some sort of a transformation, especially considering his caring attitude towards his wife who has had a meltdown. Narain has handled this character with maturity. Ramya Krishnan’s portrayal of Bela is simply exquisite. Bela stands by Nathan through his highs and lows and makes him ponder on his choices. Ouseppachan’s soulful music enhances the melancholy in the film. Therefore, it didn’t come as a surprise when he won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction for the film in 2008. Alagappan N’s cinematography adds to the realism of the film.

Ore Kadal is anchored by a well-written screenplay and superlative performances. It is certainly one of the must-watch Indian films.

You can watch the film here.

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