After watching a series of English movies in the theatres, I told A, I need to watch an Indian movie next. (Maybe that is when I truly feel at home?) So I watched Talvar and Ennu Ninte Moideen on two consecutive days (with my parents feeling more than a little annoyed – “Two movies in less than 24 hours, surely even you must admit that this is a bit much”). I didn’t admit to any such thing.
I could write about Talvar, it was truly fantastic. I cannot remember another movie where the audience was so completely silent as the end credits appeared on the screen. People were too stunned to move out of their seats, and teachers all over the world must have rejoiced, for we finally understood the meaning of pin drop silence.
But I want to write about Ennu Ninte Moideen. I had one expectation as the movie started – I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for love found and lost, I wanted to cry like no one was watching, the way I sometimes do in the bathroom when no one really is watching. And this is the one expectation I have of all movies that claim to be transcendental love stories.
While watching Ennu Ninte Moideen, I was left with a taste of disappointment in my mouth, not the salty tears I had hoped for. It could have been so much more. I came home and read about the movie, only to discover that it was based on a documentary (Jalam Kondu Murivetaval), and I think the movie assumes that viewers will be familiar with Kanchana and Moideen. They might be, in Kerala. The story seems to have acquired the sheen of a modern day myth, but for the rest of us, when we watch their story unfurl on screen for the first time, it feels curiously bland. Where is the magic? Where is the romance? The movie did not clarify if they knew each other from before; the falling-in-love portions appear to be very hurried. We spend far too much time with the conflicts the lovers faced. This might even be justified – in the documentary, Kanchana mentions that she was placed under house arrest for 22 years, 10 years out of which she did not even set her eyes on Moideen. Since the movie does not allow us to invest emotionally in the love story, we are subsequently not as moved by the drama later on.
Watching Kanchana recount her life, the life she dreamt of, the life that was within her grasp, only to be snatched away by forces beyond her control; I was left with a pain in my throat. I found myself thinking over and over, Oh if only she had been able to live with Moideen, the life they might have created together would be glorious. I found myself despising the society that does not comprehend love, the same society that does not hesitate to announce that it loves love. I found myself alternately in awe of and shaking my head at this madness that gripped them. Kanchana even explains how she realized she was in love with Moideen, the moment her feelings morphed from those of friendliness to something more unexplainable.
I wish the three hour long movie had managed to evoke at least half the emotions that a twenty minute documentary managed to stir up in me.