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A great love film of the decade.
Alphonse Puthren’s Premam, a phenomenally super hit Malayalam film that captures the beautiful landscapes of Aluva. The film portrays the journey of George David , a poignant love journey which begins from the teenage love for the most attractive girl Mary. The film belongs to the genre called period film which shows the different phases of George’s life.It should be stated in no uncertain terms that the kind of filmmaking style, especially the one that projects the post-millennium teenage infatuation and then the youthful campus love and the final wrap up of George David's story in a happily ever after married life, is highly innovative and energetic. The romantic fantasy screen that is unfolded in the film is that of a male gaze, a rather refined Malayali (hereafter mallu) male gaze .The innocuous romantic teenage gaze remains unreciprocated. George David’s teenage heart hankers after the extraordinarily beautiful girl Mary. She has got plenty of followers in the locality. Here teens are shown as love-sick chocolate chaps. They are immature lords of the fantasy world of love. Being the most attractive girl, Mary happens to be everybody’s heroine, everybody’s heartthrob. To everybody’s collective frustration, Mary is already in love with a boy. The chapter of first love closes here. George’s second love blossoms forth with the arrival of Malar, the young lady guest lecturer. She is very kind and considerate towards her students. It can be easily inferred that Malar who have almost been exalted into a popular Mallu prayer song (Malare Ninne Kaanaathirunnaal), is an upper caste Tamilian with a cosmopolitan bend of mind. She is at once modern and traditional with her flair for modern breakdance and with her taste for the exquisite Hindu traditional feminine adorations like sandal mark for the forehead and jasmine flowers for the long hair.In Malayalam cinema, campus is the typical space of the masculine social transgressions. Society outside campus space is full of norms and morals. There are several moralists who argue that loving a teacher is a big sin. The film shatters such moralism in its steadfast duty to the illegitimate love of George David as opposed to the legitimate love of Vimal Sir, the colleague of Malar. Here George attains a novel sensorium of experience, the ineffable ecstasy of love. Bringing a turning point, there arise an alibi for separating the inter-caste and inter-state love between George and Malar. Malar met with an accident and plunged in the unfortunate situation of memory loss. George has to cut down his second love at this crucial moment. In the final phase, we witness the third love of George, the self-restrained love of George who has attained adult maturity. She is none other than Celine who happens to be the young companion of his first love Mary. The film ends by showing the happy faces of the newlywed couple: George David and Celine. Though the storyline sounds all too familiar, it is the mode and the form of the storytelling that renders the otherwise simple and light-hearted content of the film profound and palpable.On the whole, the film offers a very resigned risk-free zone of conjugal life. Every struggles of love are thus resolved in such a way that a matured conflict-free family life is guaranteed. All the adventures of love are suspended in favour of the established mallu adult maturity. Though the presence of conventional moralists preachers are ridiculed in the movie, the presence of modern moralist preacher called soft-skill trainer is very much present in the film. The film is indeed proposing a big moral lesson. Love failures needs to be treated as training ground in the great journey towards marriage. Finally, marriage is constructed as a safety valve against the fickle-mindedness and perils of wayward love. The film does not show the life after marriage.The "scene contra" song brings to the fore the typical reaction of frustrated mallu boys in the form of warning and consolation.Being a hilarious friendly advice,this song appears as a double negation.Celine rejects David's proposal as she is already engaged to another person.She has no other option but to reject his proposal. Then there is a negation love as such in the song. Thus, there is a negation of a negation.Nevertheless, this negation of negation is also an affirmation of a disavowed attachment. David's friends are not just trying to console David. This song can be read as an exhortation to reject heterosexual love's labour in general.It can even be observed that the song makes a veiled plea for homoerotic love which is stable and secure, for the homosocial male bonding would never be perceived as the unnatural form of relationship.The lines “Avalu Vendra, Evalu Vendra Ee Kaanunnavalmmaaronnum Vendra, Love Vendra, Namukku Vendra ( Dude, you don't need this chick, you don't need that chick and we don't need any of these chicks and we don’t want love) can be interpreted in this way too: We guys(or gays?) don't need heterosexual love. We boys don’t need to waste our valuable time running after a girl. It is always a risky endevour. A girl's love is always uncertain and untrustworthy as she is already guarded by traditional forms of parental authorities.Instead of getting trapped into such dangerous situations, we can be content with our homosocial male bonding.Thus, the song is not just an advice to the love-sick boys to abandon their futile struggles to win the heart of the haughty chicks.In the final phase, we see George David in the position of the proprietor of a well-maintained café named Agape. This is a cosmopolitan café where only the elite sections gather. Where did he gather the money to build such a big luxurious café? The source of investment is not revealed in the film. Also, the film presents an internal critique of the old authoritarian capitalist model where the profit-hungry capitalists treat their workers like slaves. Unlike the old authoritarian capitalists, George is very friendly with his workers and he takes offence when his assistant manager Jojo calls him “Muthalali”(capitalist entrepreneur). Alongside this, the film caricatures the old symbolic authorities like the flirts, the official language, the patriarchal father, the church, the teacher, the police who arrests the youngsters for wearing the Bob Marley T-shirts, the government that increases the price of petrol and so on and so forth. However, film produces newer forms of symbolic authorities in a subtle and sophisticated manner by way of embracing a normalized endogamous marriage towards the close of the film. Because of this, Premam’s butterfly is mentally normal. So is its Love.Premam naturalizes the institution of marriage. Nevertheless, one striking feature of Premam is that the final narrative closure with the endogamous marriage offers a nostalgic space for nurturing the transgressive desire for an inter-caste and inter-state love. By marrying Celine who hails from his own faith community, George David elevates Malar as an absolute object of desire.
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