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Priyamanasam (Sanskrit)

Priyamanasam is a movie about renowned Malayalam poet Unnaayi Warrier, about whom very little is known. The film is a fictional presentation of his life, based on available information. It is interesting in many ways. Unnayi Warrier is famous for his Nalacharitham aattakatha - the story of Nala, from Mahabharatha, written for Kathakali. In the film, a parallel is drawn between Nala and Undayi Warrier. The story of Nala, is a sincere love story between Nala and his love, Damayathi. Even though they were both sincere, they get separated as Nala gets cursed. The curse disfigures Nala and he becomes unrecognisable. The rest of the story describes the ordeals they go through, to finally get united. Unnayi Warrier, who loses his love due to the curse of poverty, is similar to Nala. In the movie, the final union of Nala and Damayanthi is described as a manifestation of Unnayi Warrier's dream of getting united with his love. Through his work, he was living the life he could not live. This parallel is drawn very beautifully. The movie is also very poetic. As an example, I will quote a metaphor I liked a lot. "Let these tears keep the memory of our love afresh, as water sprinkled on flowers". Another interesting aspect of the movie is the way the character of Unnayi Warrier is revealed to us. It is revealed through his conversations with the characters in his work. Some other conversations in the movie are also very thought provoking. The conversation between Unnayi Warrier and Kunjan Nambiar (one of the most famous poets in Malayalam and a contemporary of Unnayi Warrier), where Unnayi Warrier describes his confusion in choosing the language for his work, is my favourite. Kunjan Nambiar compares language with a river, ever-flowing and ever-changing. He says that we cannot enter the same river twice. He says that water from various sources come and join the rivers and certain rivers join together to form bigger rivers. Don't worry about the language, it is just a medium for the poetry. This is extremely relevant in a world where we try to draw strict lines between languages. This said, what intrigued me the most while watching the movie is the choice of language used. Why Sanskrit? This question is even more striking because, the poetry by Unnayi Warrier is in Malayalam. There is a belief that literary language is superior to the spoken language. This thought gave me a strange joy - as this would mean Malayalam is superior to Sanskrit. I thought, perhaps the Director is trying to convey the fallacy in this idea of inferiority of the spoken language. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to ask this question directly to the director. I met him at the Chennai International Film festival. And when I asked him this question, he gave a different answer. He said that, he feels the lyrical potential of Sanskrit is unused and should be used. That was his motivation. About language, there is another remark. Even though the movie is in Sanskrit, God is addressed as "thevare". From whatever I know, it is rooted in Dravidian languages. The Sanskrit deva: becomes devan in Tamil or Malayalam. We can pluralise or add respect by making it devar. I think that is the origin of the word thevar. When we address, this becomes thevare. I found this a bit strange.


Image from priyamanasam.com

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