Vaanaprastham

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User Ratings: 95
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Movie Info

Shaji Karun's love story takes its inspiration from Kathakali, a dance-drama with a 500-year history, which is indigenous to the Kerala region of India. In the late 1930s, 10-year-old Kunhikuttan begins his training in this very taxing art form. When he is eighteen, he is forced to marry someone he does not love. The marriage is disastrous. As he becomes more and more successful in his career, he meets a young woman named Subhadra who is married to high society but somewhat lost in her gilded cage. Subhadra is obsessed by the hero of the Mahabarata Epic, Arjuna, who also loves a woman named Subhadra. She falls in love with Kunhikuttan, who plays Arjuna on stage; but she is often confused between the real and the imaginary. The film, which carries the habitual sadness of Karun's previous films, Piravi and My Own, is enriched with the photography of Renato Berta and Santosh Sivan and remarkable acting by one of Kerala's finest actors, Mohanlal (who is also the co-producer), in the role of Kunhikuttan. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard, 1999.

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Critic Reviews for Vaanaprastham

All Critics (1) | Fresh (1)

Audience Reviews for Vaanaprastham

  • Jun 25, 2013
    According to Gönül Dömez-Colin, "Shaji Karun's love story takes its inspiration from Kathakali, a dance-drama with a 500-year history, which is indigenous to the Kerala region of India." Instead of presenting this folkloric tale as a forbidden love, Karun uses human-being idolatry and the confusion between fantasy and reality as vehicles to unleash a psychological catastrophe of relationships crumbling, similar to <i>Vertigo</i> (1958) in terms of obsession and of substitution of identities (like that of Subhadra's replacement with Kunhikuttan's daughter), but simultaneously mythological and spiritual in the protagonist's search for a clarification of his past. Speaking of identities, the allegory of using masks to hide the true self behind dances and colors is brilliant and proper for the handling of the meaning of art and life, even if the final result is tears breaking the silence of the unspoken. The sinful fictional character Subhadra lives on... With a haunting musical score worth of our deepest fears and nightmares, <i>Vanaprastham</i> is yet another must-see Indian jewel of the nineties, which got screened at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in 1999. Mohanlal is, indeed, a superstar. 90/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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