Caste then and now

Shortfilm ‘Pulam’ tells the story of the last pulaya queen and her daughter, juxtaposed with the current situation, where lives are ruined by insidious effects of casteism 

author_img Anupama Mili Published :  01st April 2022 06:46 PM   |   Published :   |  01st April 2022 06:46 PM
Still from Pulam

Still from Pulam

Caste is still prevalent even among educated families and those from the scheduled castes are treated as outcasts, proves the recent short film by director Jeevan Varghese. ‘Pulam’, directed and edited by Jeevan, narrates the life of the last Pulaya queen Kotharani and her daughter Athira.

In two timelines, the story and struggle of inter-caste couples are depicted beautifully in frames. In one timeline, the life of the queen appears. Then follows the present, where Reshmi, the lead actor, struggles due to her lover and his family’s demands.

Pulam portrays how colour plays an important factor in deciding one’s caste — how black is associated always with the oppressed or the ‘lower’ caste. When the ruler wishes to ‘own’ the black princess Athira, she boldly opposes his wish and denies being his bride. In the present story, Reshmi is not ready to bow down to an ‘upper caste’ man and his demands by casting out her grandmother, who was a servant in the groom’s family years ago.

Lalji Kattiparamban, the scriptwriter of the film, says the theme is a mix of history and imagination. Many images, like leaf umbrellas and Kuthuvilakku, are usually attached to the brahminical culture and are brought here to the lives of the Pulaya queen. 

“A woman from the lower caste experiences various tortures from society. There is literature that connects the first mother (Aadi Mathavu) to Pulayas. They held a royal status in the beginning. There is creativity and workmanship attached to them and they were a strong community from within and outside. We tried to provide new insight into their culture,” said Lalji, who is also the lyricist of the short.

Nishmika Das and Priyaraj Govindraj are in the lead roles in the short film produced by LAL-JEE entertainments. Nimya Lal gave voice to the music composed by Gopikrishnan V. Photography is by Himal Mohan and Nitin Roy.