#100days100scenes: how power corrupts

Inspired by the success of Satyajit Ray 's Apu Trilogy in the 60s and the spread of neo-realist cinema in Bengal, during the 70s, there was a wave of neo-realist or parallel cinema movies that hit Hindi cinema. Directors like Shyam Benegal were dealing with realistic portrayals of deep rooted problems like feudalism and exploitation of women. Although this wave lost its momentum in the 80s due to lack of funding, it gave a fillip to other directors in other states to explore more realistic filmmaking.

One such director was Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Although there are many great movies to choose from,  I wanted to highlight the Mammooty - Adoor Gopalkrishnan combination that won National awards in Mathilukal and Vidheyam. Mammooty is an actor alongwith Kamal Haasan who scores on most of the method acting characteristics - voice modulation /dialect/ accent and projection, body language, physical change , ability to interpret drama.  He definitely belongs to the top 5 actors in India today and his consummate ease at switching between from art to commercial cinema at will is just amazing.

To show why Mammooty is in a league of his own, look at this scene from Vidheyan (servile). Vidheyan tells a story of a master slave relationship set in Southern Karnataka . Mammooty plays a certain Pattelar in north Kerala , who is an absolute tyrant and oppresses the village. He enslaves a person Thommy , rapes his wife and does all kinds of bad deeds including killing his own wife. The slave somehow gets endeared to his master , gaining some kind of psychological power yet at the end being relieved from it when the Pattelar.

Scene description
If you look at Mammooty in this scene , he has physically transformed with the mean looking haircut and handlebar moustache. He speaks Kannada and Malayalam mixed dialect.  He manages to look crass and his demeanour suits the character he is playing. In this scene he abuses and ridicules a downtrodden worker and spits at him since he doesnt tell him what he is hiding behind his back ( the downtrodden person was only hiding the hole in his dhoti).  Mammooty then goes on to insult him further by asking whether his wife is beautiful or not. The starting scene where Mammooty is perched on his sofa shows the 'power distance' and the ruthlessness. The spitting is so disgusting that you feel repulsive on how helpless the servant is.

 I cant imagine any other actor who can be so villainous and deadly - completely being true to the character . This is a big change for someone to play the negative character so well despite having acted as a 'hero' in many movies before this.

The scene is a spine chilling reality on how feudal lords oppressed people in certain states and how people became so subservient and servile that they remain oblivious to doors of freedom. It gives an idea of why feudalism continued in India despite winning independence.  In Adoors own words " One of the factors that prompted me to make Vidheyan was the senseless violence and mindless crime not only in India, but all over the world,  I wanted to study the psychology and structure of power."