Film is loyal to novel
The Indian Express, September 14th, 1998
At last, a film which does justice to the literary work
from which it takes birth. Agnisakshi, Shyamaprasad's
adaptation of Lalithambika Antharjanam's celebrated novel
by the same name, showcases a stunning performance by
Rajit Kapoor and some sensitive direction by Shyamaprasad.
The film, premiered at the Soorya festival today, was
lapped up by an appreciative audience.
Shyamaprasad, who has already left his mark on the small
screen with TV serials which are more than a notch or
two above the many which have invaded the idiot box, shows
that he is equally at ease working on a larger canvas.
The deft touches are that of a veteran, even if there
is one song too many.
Set in the 1940s in a Namboodiri Illam, the story of Agnisakshi
unfurls through the snatches of memories of Thankam, a
mute spectator who is caught between the main characters
Unni and Devaki, and the complexities in their relationship.
Unni and Devaki, newly married, love each other but their
concept of love differs. Devaki and Thankam share a close
Bound by tradition and willing to hurt himself rather
than see others in pain, Unni is unable to be the husband
which Devaki wants him to be. The world is changing outside
and Devaki, wanting to step out, wants Unni to release
it. Unni does, but knows there are others in the illam
who do not. Devaki leaves Unni when tradition comes in
the way of meeting her mother who is on her death bed.
Devaki is willing to come back but makes it clear that
she would not apologize for her deed. Unni does not go
to fetch her but his love only grows with time.
The passage of time brings about changes not only in society
but in individuals too. Devaki plunges into the freedom
struggle. Unni's younger brother succumbs to the lure
of power and money. Thankam forgets the past, even if
momentarily, Unni, perhaps the only one not to change,
spends his old age in the temple, alone and in touch with
the one above. Devaki finally embraces spirituality. She
is now able to understand Unni more.
The film does not have characters either in pure black
or white. Without resorting to syrupy sentimentalism,
Shyamaprasad manages to retain the emotional thread throughout
the film. The performances are the major highlight.
Rajit Kapoor virtually lives the roles of Unni. Praveena,
as Thankam in her youth, is a major surprise. Here is
a definite talent. Shobhana is good as usual. Srividya,
Madhupal, Sreenath, Madambu Kunhukuttan and Krishnankumar
are all good, adding to the overall effect of the film.
Agnisakshi was filmed by Azhakappan. It has lyrics and
music by Kaithapram and background score by Jayachandran.
Produced by Dr Gautham Babu and Dr Somaprasad, the film
has art direction by Premachandran and editing by Beena.