(This article first appeared in the Mumbai Mirror)
Hridayatteieykku Oru Madakayathra (directed by Abhinand Kumar) is a simple story of conflict between a father and son on a personal level, and tradition and progress and civilizations on the other. A young man defies his father’s wish to see him don the colours of Kathakali and takes a journey to the west in search of a ‘better’ life.
As the title suggests the film traces his path back home. Given the constraints of time, there is but a couple of lines from his letters that convey the disenchantment that precedes his return. The reasons are predictable and personal- a broken relationship and such, at least on the surface. The lack of incisive detailing is partly compensated for by leaving room for the imagination to take in a range of emotions.
The screenplay of the film is pleasantly clever in places. A journalist is used as a device for the father to deliver a touching monologue on his dying art and the camera pans over various stages of his applying dramatic makeup to create engrossing visuals for the voiceover of the son’s letters home. The brevity of expression of the last shot is emphatic and skilful.
But for all the ways in which the film milks the short film genre, there is a feeling of incompleteness that lingers. The audience is witness to a journey but not a participant in it. It is a relief that the film does not subscribe to the commonplace twist in the tale formula ever so popular in the genre, but perhaps falters in choosing a subject that envisages a not just a great depth but also a formidable width of human issues.