Film: Names Unknown (Perariyathavur)
Cast: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Indrans, Nedumudi Venu, Master Govardhan
This film is a powerful and moving experience fashioned around a lovingly bonded widower Father- motherless son’s experiences in the real world as marginalized people who face neglect and anonymity as they battle through the forces of life in their efforts to survive the after effects of development.
This film in fact comes at a very opportune moment- at a time when the Government has tweaked the land acquisition act to favor the haves over the have-nots. Dr Biju, a homeopath, who has also written the screenplay, seeks to impress on us the tragedy that is already very much upon us- where billions of marginalized people , children included are rendered homeless and vulnerable to the elements –both natural and man induced.
Set in different regions of Kerala, ‘Names Unknown’ tells the story of a father and his eight year old son’s efforts to stay afloat despite the setbacks that life throws their way. The father (Suraj Venjaramoodu who shared the national award with Raj Kumar Rao for this exquisitely evocative performance) works as a temporary sweeper for the municipality and along with his well meaning friend, a tribal, Chami (Indrans) collects garbage from the city streets and dumps it in the village dumping ground.
The people who live in the village are not too happy about having the city garbage dumped there. The tribals from Chami’s village are in the meanwhile stirring up a strike to fight against the Government’s high-handedness while at the same time the father and son are rendered homeless because of redevelopment of the land surrounding their temp home, adjacent to a railway track. Also during their forays together while on duty, the father-son duo come in contact with many faceless, nameless people who experience as much if not more hardships.
The poignancy and the innate humaneness of this enterprise is what touches you most about this tragedy. The film opens with the camera rising slowly through the rise fields to showcase two boys running towards a throng of people shouting slogans demanding their land rights. The camera then cuts away to the a garbage truck chugging through the city streets with the father-son duo aboard alongside Chami, going about their daily routine.
The voice of the young boy reporting to his departed mother about his daily adventures with his father plays on right through the film. The multi-layered narrative moves at a steady pace, revealing, in its forays into the lives of marginalized survivalists who think nothing of the very little they have or for that matter the insecurities of such an existence.
Dr Biju’s effort to bring into focus the problems of the marginalized is certainly one that deserves high praise. His cinematic aesthetics are also of high order. The superb performances from Suraj Venjaramoodu, Indrans, Master Govardhan, Nedumudi Venu and the other lesser known faces only adds more wealth and meaning to the overall experience. Ultimately, this is a triumph for the director who wanted to convey a message and does it so very craftily without resorting to sermonizing or pedantry. This is a must-see film. Catch it if you can!