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Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha Movie
What If What You Know is Not The Truth?

Meet the movie: Many years ago a boy on his school vacation in Kerala refused to go to a movie, saying ‘I don’t like movies of the king’s times’, his term for period movies. Now the man, who was that boy, watches this movie once a month & is found dishing out its dialogs everyday. The boy is now the aam aadmi. ;-), & the movie is ‘Oru Vadakkan Veeragaatha’ which reads ‘A Tale of courage from the north’ with common man’s translation. When was the last time you saw a movie doing such great spin-doctoring, that history itself got over-written? Or saw a movie painting a victim of history, as a victor? Or a movie redeeming a man who had become a byword? The movie though uses a regional story, has a universal message

Meet Chandu who is a legendary kalari (martial arts) expert from Kerala whom history painted as ‘chadiyan Chandu’ or ‘cheater Chandu’. Folktales made him a womanizer, betrayer, murderer in cold-blood of his cousin Aaromal, another great kalari expert. This was until this movie was made. MT Vasudevan Nair scripted this movie & saw things from Chandu’s side. Chandu’s soul which was roaming around cursed, is now thankful to MTV Nair!

Have u been victimized over something you never did? I have been. Once I found myself being the victim of a vicious campaign that painted me ‘drunkard & smoker’. I was always considered by our social circle as a ‘good boy’. Door ghron mein when kids didn’t study well or obey parents, mothers used to say ‘beta santhosh ko dekh, kitna achcha ladka hain padtha hain, kitna obedient hain..” ;-) . Now in small town being a ‘smoker drinker’ meant you have bad name, the very people who quoted you as exemplary to their kids, look down you at social gatherings. I set out to do damage control. I find out the source of this campaign – it’s a lady my mother’s age – I confront her – she says ‘I saw you outside bar with a cigarette in hand’ - I go flashback – it was true! – I tell her the truth – she is sorry & joins in redeeming my name. The truth was I was part of a cricket team that celebrated a victory at a bar. To claim my share of spoils I went & ate well. While coming out one guy asked me to hold the lighted cigarette as he had to take out money from purse. That’s when the lady saw me – all circumstantial evidences were against me!

The story: The movie suggests a similar but great injustice was meted out to Chandu. The movie begins with 2 young men getting to know abt Chandu’s treacheries that resulted in death of Aaromal. One guy is Aaromals son & the other is son of Unniarcha, Aaromal’s sister. Knowing historical version of things, they set out to for revenge.

The youngsters come & challenge Chandu who isn’t interested. At this point Chandu realizes he has to tell his side of the story to someone & the lucky one happens to be his servant girl. Thanks to bad name, Chandu never got a bride or a family. This is his story.

A motherless Chandu becomes a total orphan when his father also dies. His maternal uncle Kannappan becomes his caretaker. Chandu feels an outsider in the palatial settings of his uncles house. Add to this the incessant humiliations by his cousin Aaromal. But when it comes martial arts he is the best. This only adds fuel to Aaromals jealousy over Chandu.

Chandu grows up as a child of many complexes. He doesn’t express himself at places where he had to. He becomes a man who didn’t know how to express love. He is in love with Unniarcha, his rightful bride. When it comes to choosing the favorite disciple, he is let down despite great performance. His dreams of marrying Unniarcha are shattered when her brother gets her married to a well to do man. When Chandu tries to marry another girl who likes him, Aaromal jumps in there too & takes her as his bride. Unappily married Unniarcha once invites Chandu to her bedroom, only to blame Chandu as the intruder when there is a knock on the door.

Soon Chandu joins another martial arts centre run by Aringodar & becomes his favorite. Aringodar’s daughter likes Chandu & even speaks of this to her dad, who has no qualms about it. At this juncture a certain royal family has a dispute among its brothers. One of the ways to settle the dispute was by each party hiring a warrior, who will by way of a duel settle the issue. One of the brothers in dispute hires Aringodar. The other party hires Aaromal. Aringodar wanted to take Chandu as his second to the arena, but Chandu ends up being Aaromal’s second, as he couldn’t say no to his uncle & Unniarcha. She even promises Chandu that if he seconds her brother & he returns alive, she will elope with Chandu.

The duel begins. It gets fierce. Suddenly Aaromal’s sword is broken. But even with broken sword, he deceitfully kills Aringodar. Then Aaromal accuses Chandu of bribing the blacksmith to replace metallic rivets that hold the blade to the handle of the sword, with wooden ones. Accusation turns into attack, for self defence Chandu holds a rod used to hang lamps, Aaromal ends up falling on the rod & dies, but not before uttering ‘Chandu cheated’ to people who just entered the scene.

Chandu flees – learns from blacksmith that he was bribed by Aringodar’ daughter. She perhaps did it bcos she knew only if her father returned wud she get to marry Chandu. Before Chandu reaches her to ask why she did it, she commits suicide. Unniarcha also doesn’t believe Chandu.

Flashback ends there. The 2 young men are adamant on fighting Chandu. Finally Chandu defeats both of them in a round each, asks them to go back. They wont, then Chandu takes the extreme step, saying ‘let traitor Chandu’s story end here. I don’t want you people to lose..’. he stabs himself. There was no witness to this as Chandu sends away the maid, just in time.!!!

What I liked: Everything, script, dialogs, acting, music, fights. This is one of those movies where every flip of the eyebrow, every sigh, every twitch of a muscle speaks so much. Script was the hero, dialogs the heroine. Mammootty didn’t act, he lived the role. So did suresh gopi, madhavi, geetha, captain raju… . Since the movie is set in erstwhile Kerala, all dialgues are in classic malayalam, though I keep dishing out I wont bore you with my translations of them ;-)

It’s a spiritual movie bcos it makes one think from the other person’s perspective. If only people in the world take time to stand in the other person’s boot for few seconds, there wud be lesser accusation, lesser conflicts, lesser wars. What you know may not be the truth, truth is somewhere in the middle. & the one who wins the war always gets to write the history.This movie personally impacted me a lot. I see in myself a Chandu, in myself a Aaromal. Sometimes I am the victim & sometimes the victimizer. Like the SAIL steel ad that said ‘There is a bit of steel in everyone’s life’ – There is a Chandu and/or Aaromal within everyone of us. ;-) Earlier when a friend let me down my sudden reaction wud be ‘Hey you did a Chandu’. Now if a friend lets me down, I do say ‘hey Chandu’ – but the latter has some compassion, as I for a while get into his shoes, ponder abt the circumstances that led him to let me down, or think what wud I have done if I were in his place

Thanks for reading. Anyone who can follow the language remotely shudnt miss it.

4 of 5 Reviews
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