The very first moments an Adoor film lit up the screen, in the initial shot-sequences of Swayamvaram (1972), one saw the dramatic conventions of mainstream cinema being cast aside. The protagonists are on a bus. Nothing happens. The journey takes as much time as a bus ride would. The spatio-temporal unity throws the characters directly into a real world, and the maestro starts his journey into the allegorical with that gesture of everydayness. In an oeuvre spanning over four decades and counting from Swayamvaram (1972) to Pinneyum (released August 2016) one of the central themes of Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s films has been the ethical conflicts of men caught inexorably in the vortex of history and power. At the very basic level, it is a question of survival for them, but this struggle to live with freedom and dignity pushes them into confrontations with power structures along various axes familial, social, communal and political. In the process, Adoor’s films map the highs and lows, the agonies and upsurges that Kerala witnessed in these decades. Turbulences that connect with and encapsulate the universal.
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