Some movies start like any other movie with a linear flow and no twists. While some make you think at the very end, others makes you think from the very beginning to the very end. The movie “Anantaram (Thereafter)” doesn’t belong to any of the above. It’s beautifully split into two halves. Where the first part is just a normal story with a linear flow, the second part makes you think about the reality of the first part.
Anantaram is a Malayalam feature film written and directed by one of the pioneers of a new wave in Malayalam cinema, Mr Adoor Gopalakrishan, in the year 1987. Along with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, he is one of the most recognised Indian filmmaker in the world. He has made only 12 feature films in his entire career spanning over five decades. Nearly all his films premiered at Venice, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival. For his films, Adoor has won the National Film Award 16 times, next only to Ray and Sen. This movie had won three National Film Awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Audiography in the year 1987. The movie stars the evergreen and brilliant actors, Mammootty, Shobana and Ashokan as the lead characters.
The movie begins with the story of the narrator who was adopted by the doctor of the hospital where he was abandoned by his mother after the birth. In the first part of the movie, we get to see the extraordinary brilliance of the narrator in his childhood in every stream. He was not someone who could be subdued by the strict structures of the society and was usually unable to mix with people of his own age group. But his distinction is also his undoing. The only people with whom he liked to spend time were the doctor who adopted him and the loving older step brother, who took care of him diligently. Even the girl he falls in love with in his childhood was quite older.
In the first part, the movie shows us beautifully the complexities of forbidden love which most filmmakers, even today, won’t have the courage to venture into in India. The first part comes to a sudden halt at an unexpected juncture leaving us puzzled with so many missing links. The first part shows us how the narrator comes to love a life of isolation whereas the second part shows us why he isolates himself from the outside world.
The second part shows the upbringing of the protagonist and his relation with his adoptive father, his caring step-brother and the three servants who lived with them. As both the father and the step-brother were usually away from the house, the narrator was taken care of by the servants who were old and stern and had an old-fashioned way of raising a kid unlike his father and brother.
With the passage of time, he shows a decline in his abilities notwithstanding the pressure of our education system and society craving for wealth and glory. We slowly get to see the other side of the protagonist making us wonder what are his imaginations and what are the realities. Finally both these parts converge to a point, slowly helping us connect the missing links of the first part. The story is incomplete, perhaps it is meant to be to keep the audience wondering.
Anantaram is basically about perceptions about a young and impressionable boy who experience struggles with life, love and relationships because of the lack of some sort of functions. The movie might seem to be slow in pace, but makes up with its complex yet beautiful storytelling which haunts you even after the movie is over, overall making it an enjoyable watch. You can watch this wonderful movie for free on YouTube.