INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
OF INDIA 2003
PADAM ONNU: ORU
Lesson One: A Wail
Malayalam/107 minutes/35 mm/Colour
Razia, holding a baby, gets
down from a bus and makes her way home in the wee hours of the
morning. She has been sent back by her husband for her parents
have failed to keep their promise of dowry. Razia’s friend, Shahina,
visits her. She tries to cheer her up by talking about the baby
and their days at school.
Hassan Moyeen is a busy matchmaker.
Economically backward families opt for Mysore marriage – they
give their daughters in marriage to unknown men from the neighbouring
province of Mysore. Razia’s was one such marriage brokered by
Hassan Moyeen. Her husband arrives seeking the remaining dowry
amount. He seeks Hassan’s intervention.
Shahina’s mother, Saphia,
makes a living by making rice dumplings and selling them at a
nearby teashop. Shahina, an assiduous student, is blissfully unaware
of the ways of the world. Razak is already married. He also has
a child. He is trying to leave for the Gulf in search of a job.
He decides to get married again so that he can use the dowry to
fund his trip. Hassan is told to find a match for him. He impresses
upon Saphia and her brother Abdu that it is time for Shahina to
be married off.
Shahina reacts violently to
the proposal because she wants to continue her studies. In spite
of her mother’s sympathy, the elders, especially the men, try
to dissuade her from her studies. For them her defiance amounts
to deviant behaviour. Finally, Shahina is forced to give in.
Razak meets with repeated
failure in his attempts to consummate his marriage with Shahina
for sex is something the girl cannot make sense of. His very sight
provokes revulsion in her. Razak’s first wife, Wahida, feels sorry
for Shahina. On her part, Shahina takes a liking to Razak’s daughter,
Mumtaz, and two become inseparable.
Meanwhile, Razak forces Wahida
to administer sedatives to Shahina. While she sleeps, Razak has
his way. When she wakes up, a shocked Shahina turns hysterical
in anger. Razak uses her behaviour as a pretext to divorce her.
He takes her back to her place. Back home, Shahina resumes her
studies. On the first day of exams, she slumps on her desk. A
medical examination reveals that she is pregnant. A dejected Saphia
dies. Shahina is accused of adultery and ostracized…
Producer: Aryadan Shoukath
Director: T.V. Chandran
Screenplay: T.V. Chandran
Camera: K.G. Jayan
Art: Abu Pattambi
Sound: Krishnan Unni