Reviving the Malayali soul

Famous poet Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon’s emotional poem Mambazham is getting a visual revamp
Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon’s emotional poem Mambazham
Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon’s emotional poem Mambazham

Mambazham, the poem penned by Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon in 1936 still deeply touches the heart of every Malayali who reads it. The creation explores the serene relationship between a mother and her son. After 84 years, the poem, which still holds a pristine position in Malayalam literature, has received a visual revamp. Directed by cinematographer Premji AJ, the 30-minute long short film based on the poem was shot at Vyloppilli’s residence in Kaloor, where he is said to have written the poem.

“Mambazham is an experience. It is not like any other poem. When taught in schools, it captures the attention of every student. It helps them delve into the emotions hiding between its lyrics. I’ve always wanted to remake the poem visually without losing its emotions,” says Premji, a Muvattupuzha native.

Eight years back, Premji approached Vyloppilli’s wife Thattattu Bhanumathi Amma to seek permission to do a film based on the poem. “She accepted my offer. In fact, Bhanumathi Amma was disappointed no one approached her all these years to make a film on the legendary poem. She was a part of the making of the entire video,” adds Premji.

The director himself claims that it was a challenge to pull off the visuals since every Malayali already has formed imagery of the poem in their mind, and it is tied to the relationship they shared with their mothers.

“Even I have formed the characters in my head based on my imagination. I wanted the ‘mambazham’ that I show to become a part of every reader’s narrative. When I found that not even filmmakers have tried to take up the subject, I started wondering why that was. My friends and acquaintances also warned me about the intensity of the poem and the criticisms that could probably sprout, but I wasn’t taken aback by all that because I had the support of Vyloppilli’s wife,” he says.

Perumbavoor MLA Eldhose Kunnappilly played the role of Vylopilli in the video. The poet’s mannerisms, his way of writing, everything has been etched in the film as per the information given by his wife. “It is said that Vylopilli was just 27 years old when he wrote Mambazham. Bhanumathi Amma didn’t want me to picture him as his older self that we are all familiar with within the video. She wanted him to look young. I wanted someone with artistic inclinations too, so Eldhose was chosen as he is a poet himself,” says Premji.

The short film hasn’t been released yet. Premji intends to give it to the Education Department. “The poem is part of the curriculum and I am planning to give the video as a study material,” he adds.

Jayakumar Chengamanadu is the scriptwriter for the video while  Nadesh Shankar did the music direction. Cinematography is by Anand N Nair, and Editing is by Sunish Sebastian. Actor Subbalakshmi has also acted in the video where Rohan R Mohan played Vyloppilli’s role. The film is produced under the banner of Nupuram Creations. 

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