Those who have watched the film will not be surprised by the jury's choice.

Vinayakans win Kerala State Film Awards keeps it real recognises performance and not heroicsFacebook/ Dulquer Salmaan
Flix Mollywood Wednesday, March 08, 2017 - 13:26

The Kerala State Film Awards 2016 which were declared on Tuesday came as affirmation for those who are not enamored by cinema that revolves around the conventional hero and his superhuman actions - a story arc that is repeated across film industries.

While Vidhu Vincent's Manhole won the award for Best Film, and Rajisha Vijayan won Best Actress (Anuraaga Karrikin Vellam), the Best Actor award went to Vinayakan who acted in Kammatipaadam. His co-star Manikandan also picked up an award for Best Character Actor.

Even though the 'hero' of the film was Dulquer Salmaan, who played the role of Krishnan, and had the lion's share of screen time, it was Vinayakan's performance as Ganga that won the award. Those who have watched the film will not be surprised by the jury's choice.

While the film is ostensibly about Krishnan and his evolution from a troubled and violent boyhood to middle aged ennui, it is Ganga who anchors the film as his friend from a dalit family who introduces Krishnan to the political underbelly of the region.

The complex relationship between Krishnan and Ganga - mixed with shades of jealousy, love and hate - is what makes the film meaningful and not your average fare on gang war.

 

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The two men spar at each other but the bond between them refuses to dissolve even as life gets in the way. Anitha (Shaun Romy), Ganga's relative whom Krishnan loves, plays another principal role in the film, as she's caught in the crossfire of the attention that the two friends bestow upon her. Eventually, a misunderstanding separates Krishnan and Ganga but when the latter is in trouble, Krishnan realises that the past will not allow him to rest till he finds out what had happened to Ganga.

Ganga's absence later in the film doesn't render him invisible - instead, it is what drives the narrative forward. Kammatipaadam spins an intricate web of violence, deceit, and revenge but without the accompanying chest thumping brand of masculinity that we see in most films that celebrate such themes. Instead, what we get is a slow and sensitively developed story on male friendship and what it means to be "masculine" in a world tinged with blood.

To be sure, this is not the first time that Best Actor has gone to a character who did not play the hero in a film. Thilakan, for instance, won the award for Perumthachan, in which he plays a father who shares a professional rivalry with his young son and kills him towards the end for his disobedience. And it is heartening to see such "surprise" winners cropping up every now and then.

Indeed, if one were to look at the name of the award, it says 'Best Actor' and not 'Best Hero', so it makes all the more sense for it to go to the person who delivered the best acting performance that year, no matter what his role was.

Populist, mainstream cinema will perhaps continue to project an all conquering male as the center point of its stories for a long time to come but there's no reason for juries to fall in line. For far too long, heroes have been people who teach us to deal with the enemy outside and it is high time we also celebrated those who teach us to deal with the enemy within - flawed, imperfect beings like Ganga.  

 

 

 

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