A movie that treats you the way you treat art!

Abrid Shine created this movie with an agenda. An agenda that isn’t too obvious on the screen. You have to read between the lines. Or rather, see through the shots, to take out the message.

Poomaram is a movie that lives, tells and feels art in every bit of it. Like other fine pursuits of life, art can also feel void and boring to a pair of untrained eyes. And artists, preposterous bastards who often act holier than thou!

But then, you can’t understand an artist unless you get inside her mind. She has a different take on this world. It might be too simple, against your sophistication. She may not be as polished or reflective as you want her to be. But sure, she uses her mind to create something that shows this world in a different light. A new dimension that we couldn’t see all this time.

In fact, science and art are two sides of a spherical coin. The different realities they create helps us to see this world in a better light. They are not parallel, but intertwined arms of the same organic whole. It is a vehicle that takes humanity forward in time.

You might be wondering, why should I be building up so much! Reason is that I can see through why the director took up this subject. It is not about the importance of art. But about the role of art in arresting and modifying the undercurrents in our society.

Root of art stands firm in observation. Art is in part creation and rest recreation (both meanings of the word tend to make sense here). First, you reflect about the inputs thrown at you by the world. Then you find an inner meaning. Then you go forward, creating something that simplifies it for the rest of us.

If you look at it, it is identical to how we do science. The scientist churns out simplified models depicting an abstruse reality after copious reflection. We all are mirrors that reflect and amplify the signals of our world. Some of us are artists, some scientists. Rest, fulfils the productive role of a keen audience - the motivation!

This observation is the mother of empathy as well. You don’t care to look around and feel what’s going on; How will you empathise with all the suffering around you?

To have a culture of art is to have a culture rooted in empathy. If we have an ecosystem that encourages art, we are safe. It is not a coincidence that all revolutions and countercultures spawned and thrived around art. Art as a powerful medium of communication is well understood. But the ability of art to talk in heart’s language is seldom appreciated.

You may look around the world for examples. From the French revolution to the 1960s liberation of the west to Palestine, we see art everywhere. What would’ve happened to these countercultures without all the graffiti, music and movies?

When you look at a graffiti or a fresco or a stucco, you hear many locks within snap. The language of art needs no words. This is one reason why the dialogues in the movie seem so boring at times. In a wide canvas of fine arts, these dialogues seem odd. Withing the oceans of art and poetry, these dialogues are the islands we don’t want to see.

The director wants to emphasise this. That art is the backbone of culture. It is a barometer of the quality of a civilisation. If it talks about humanism and love, you are safe. If it talks about hate and glory to fatherland, future is grim.

He shows us wall paintings that celebrate humanism. Even the traditional art forms exude a connect to our culture, our roots. This cultural connect should be the basis of our nationalism and patriotism. This is more relevant today than ever.

One more thing worth mentioning is how he depicts the art scene around youth festivals. You can’t appreciate it unless you have been part of the circuit at some point of time.

I loved learning and performing classical and folk dance forms as a kid. The teachers I met and the green rooms I spent waiting for the stage came back to me once again in the theatre! The petty rivalries amongst the dance teachers; oh,the limits they go to prove their mettle!

Not to mention their dedication. There is a scene were the teacher laments about not getting paid the year before. She nonetheless shows up this time and prepare the children. I know why she comes back. Anyone, who has done her thing in the circuit will understand why. Art may dissappoint, but it seldom hurts the good ones!

It is a different world altogether and I miss it. I thank the director for this. I am sure there are many like me who found their heads swaying and legs restless in the theatre!

As any good movie, this won’t attract every eyeballs out there. I remember Kerala School Kalotsavam coming to Calicut while I was in college. I bunked classes and went to watch it with my girlfriend.

We hopped between stages, getting immersed in the art as we discovered ourselves. I realise that not everyone is into that kind of a fetish. Today, I see that my friend has grown into a different person and we are not together anymore. But the memories stay. I wonder if she sees art in the same light anymore.

That brings in the touching rendition of Pablo Neruda’s poem shown in the movie. The scene complements the profoundness of the lyrics. The actors remind us how fragile we are! We all have had those moments. More than a gripping story line, it is these moments that we get to take away from the movie.

I don’t rate movies. But sure, this is one movie that I loved watching. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciate fine arts along with other fine things in life.

Written on March 19, 2018