Original version with subtitles
I read the short story Ghatashraddha by one of our leading writers, Dr U.R. Anathamurthy, when I was still in high school. It left me deeply impressed by its emotional heft, but I also realised how well structured it was. Ghatashraddha is a ritual that was practised by the orthodox Brahmins in the old days. It is normally performed by the son during his parents’ death ceremony or – in the absence of male children – by the parents while still living by symbolically breaking a pot. Ironically, this ritual of emancipation later on became a ritual of suppression and used by the Brahmin society to excommunicate women who rebelled against a male-dominant society. In the story, the subjugation of Yamunakka by the Brahmin orthodoxy, and of Naani by his colleagues, are knitted so organically that the personal and the political blend together.
The fertility cult is central here: Indian society revels in it, but in practice it abhors it. As we were designing the style of the film, me, my brother and other visual artists of Karnataka felt we needed to shed more light on the fertility cult and the Kundalini art. Thus the womb, the pot, the snake, the rituals and the sound formed the basic expressive elements of the cinematic construction. Many Kannada films made during the new cinema movement revolve around the injustice done to individuals in the name of religion and caste. This movement, started in the late 60s, derives its ideational strength from Lohiate Socialism and was strongly influenced by people such as Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, a political philosopher, a towering figure in the Indian political scene of the time, and a Gandhian socialist. Like many other thinkers, he posited that in Indian society the hierarchical caste structure was as stifling as the class structure. While making the film, my aim was to weave these concepts, perspectives and preoccupations into a human tale with the hope that it works on emotional and ideational levels.
Cast and Credits
T. int.: The Ritual. Sog.: dal racconto omonimo di U.R. Ananthamurthy. Scen: Girish Kasaravalli. F.: S. Ramachandra. M.: Umesh Kulkarni. Mus.: B.V. Karanth. Int.: Meena Kuttappa (Yamunakka), Narayana Bhatt (Shastri), Ajith Kumar (Naani), Ramakrishna, Shantha, Ramaswamy Iyengar, Jagannath, Suresh, H.S. Parvathi. Prod.: Sadananda Suvarna per Suvarnagiri Films. Bn.
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