Leela — How I see her
Saw. Read. Watched again.
Leela, she captured me. Took me into depths, got me drenched in her blood and rose me to the admiring heights.
When I saw her first, there were so many haunting doubts. I knew I had to read the six year ago written art on her, soon I did, and then watched again. I don’t know if my doubts are cleared, but one thing, she’s the most beautiful thing I've seen in ages. Amazing characterisation and casting, panoramic locations and awestruck cinematography — the panoramic drone shot of Thamarassery churam, fun and love in Kuttiyappan’s eyes; thrill, joy and angst of Pillechan, helplessness of Thankappan Nair, lifelessness of Leela, spooky coffee plantations, and the majestic hero/villain in the climax.
Bijibal’s musings of the visuals and the dreamy mise-en-scene, made Leela not less than a fantasy, struck in reality.
I was searching for Ranjith in her, as I came out of theatre in the first go, I couldn’t find, I wondered where he was hiding. It was only after reading the short story, that I realised the Ranjith effect from title to titles. Speechless before your guts in bringing her to us, Sir. Absolute, salute!
Watching it, I could see Pillechan in everyone seated before the silver screen, and could feel Kuttiyappan talking to us, I felt I'm his companion, travelling with him. Biju Menon, you’re a man! Saw my emotions, doubts and angst in Pillechan’s reactions, Vijaya Raghavan sir, what a brilliant act! In awe with Parvathy ma’am’s performance too! Wow! Not to mention Jagadish sir and Indrans sir. Like really?!? (Eyes popping out)
My first doubt was, why is Kuttiyappan not actually getting into sexual pleasures? He is seen to have funny fetishes and that’s it; evident from CK’s and Usha’s accounts. Plus his own words to Eliyamma chedathi, how he can’t knowingly cheat a girl. So I’d like to perceive it as his inability to indulge in such an act.
And then, why Leela? Again I discern it as the angelic acts of Kunjamma and Omana’s (retd. prostitute) piercing dialogue, plus the cut into Virgin Mary’s reflection. A touch of god. And Kuttiyappan’s honest apology and request to Gandhiji. (He might well have appeared in a dream!)
And finally, the tragedy. Though I have a very clear perception, I’d like you all have your own, because that’s the beauty of mystery.
Life being the rani of mystery, a rather haunting one.
Right when Kuttiyappan found the meaning and joy of life, nature snatched it from him, leaving him to negatives. Why so? What lies further for him? How will he recover from it? Or will he ever forgive him? Was the elephant actually a saviour? Why did angel Kunjamma stay silent…? And yet a lot more.
I would say there’s a Kuttiyappan in all men, deep inside, with fantasies and fetishes, hidden, empathetic to women, loving them to core. And there’s a Pillechan in everyone, surrendered, obedient, doubtful, a diplomatic companion.
Thank you Ranjith sir for fighting it all the way and bringing her to us, thanking heavens for the belief in your instincts and Unni sir. She’s safe and alive in so many of us, treasuring each moment of it.
On further discussion of the Leela effect with another victim, Sarath, we realised our tragic loss, with the demise of so many artists who would’ve donned Kuttiyappan, Pillechan, Dasappappi, Thankappan Nair, Leela etc… in their most efficient way. For instance, imagine Bharat Gopi as Kuttiyappan, Oduvil Unnikrishnan as Pillechan, Achankunju as Thankappan Nair, Kuthiravattom Pappu as Dasappappi and Jalaja as Leela. Rest to your imagination…