Aneek Chaudhuri on making Malayalam film ‘Katti Nrittam’, that will be screened in the film market at Cannes 2020

 Aneek Chaudhuri on making Malayalam film ‘Katti Nrittam’, that will be screened in the film market at Cannes 2020

Neer is a film that talks about the relation between a deaf-paralysed singer and a blind drum player. The film unfolds at a sea beach where the singer named ‘Bhola’ confronts the sea with his high scale notes trying to defy the waves; however, being deaf, he has to depend on the vibration of waves in order to produce a musical confrontation with sea.

Bhola is an orphan and has spent most of his life with a companion at the orphanage; her name is Malhar. Being in the orphanage, Bhola had eventually grown his affection toward classical music and Malhar (being the raga of rain) was his first choice.

Bhola had lost his parents owing to an accident at sea which paralysed him (and he got deaf); henceforth, he sought answers from the waves to his sufferings. This urged him to settle down beside the sea, accompanied by Malhar. However, she is unaware of Bhola’s past.

Sea is almost like a threshold of passion for Bhola, and his fascination in order to fight against the nature is something that Malhar could not digest. Bhola spent most of his daytime sleeping and turned out to be a nocturnal creature.

Malhar gets annoyed as Bhola’s inclination is slowly turning toward the sea, which is another form of water whereas, Malhar is the raga of rain and here, she represents the purest form of natural water; in this case, Malhar is in a silent confrontation with sea waves in order to regain Bhola’s attention.

Madhu arrives at the beach (the percussionist) as a part of educational excursion. He has been rejected by many music schools as his sense of percussion lacks the punch (as evaluated by Gurus); hence, he has decided to settle down at a small hut beside the sea and rehearse against the sea waves. In Madhu’s case, waves form a threshold of professional practice.

On reaching there, he could hear a faint voice of someone chanting high-scale musical notes and it catches his attention. Suddenly, he starts following the source of that unknown voice and collides with Malhar who has been holding a pot of syrup; it falls upon Madhu striking the significance of ‘rain’ owing to the name ‘Malhar’ and the syrup (honey) symbolises the significance of the name ‘Madhu’. Then, Malhar takes him to Bhola which voice has already magnetized Madhu.

Since Malhar has been growing envious of Bhola’s inclination toward sea waves, it acted as a moment of relief where she could dilute Bhola’s affection and divert it toward Madhu; however, fate has something else in store.

Gradually, Madhu grows a profound bonding with Bhola, owing to their common interest in music. There are times when both of them can be seen confronting the sea waves together and as a collaborative effort, they could be seen triumphing the gigantic voice of the sea. Otherwise, it can be said that both were halves of the same soul and now the soul is complete. This actually worsens the relationship between Malhar and Bhola as Bhola can be seen being more compatible with Madhu than with Malhar.

For Bhola, vibrations being the only source of recognising music, Madhu finds a new way to complement him. While Bhola sings his notes, Madhu starts to beat Bhola’s back and chest, as if he is beating a drum. Thus, the ultimate music is created i.e. music that exists to bridge the body and the soul.

One night, when Madhu and Bhola is confronting the waves in a similar way and Madhu starts to beat Bhola’s body, Malhar notices their shadow. Henceforth, she grows a misconception that Bhola is sexually involved with Madhu; adding to his lack of interest toward Malhar nowadays that disturbs her.

The same night when Madhu reaches his hut, Malhar was waiting for a justification. Rather, she starts to seduce him by undressing herself and asks him to caress her body as he was doing with Bhola’s. Madhu answers that Malhar is itself a complete Raga and needs no one to complement it, so is Malhar, the woman; on the other hand, Madhu and Bhola are no one and are trying to seek justification from nature and sex is a mere, small thing to think about when two souls aim to complete each other.

On asking Bhola about his disinterest toward Malhar, she takes a firm reply through a letter-“I have seen water, enough of it since my childhood. You might be the purest form of it, but you constitute a minimal fraction of the sea water; after meeting Madhu, my confrontation with the sea is complete. I have lived years with you, absorbing rain drops whenever I touched you, I kissed you and embraced you. And this has moisted me to reach the threshold of completion. Madhu has completed me now and my confrontation is indeed complete. I am leaving for a place where I can wish for you each day with a minimal hope of embracing you once again; an arid land where people would praise you to be the magic wand of every fairy but attaining you would be difficult. You are Malhar and it is tough to possess you. You know sometimes distance is indeed required if one needs to realise someone’s value.”

On reading the letter, Malhar commits suicide by burning herself down while Madhu could sense fire (as he had been waiting for Bhola as usual). On reaching near his hut, he discovers her screaming and burning; he starts to scale up his voice to sing the Malhar Raga; however, he fails to bring rain and the body gets burned completely.

After a passage of a few months, Madhu decides to settle down at a place where he could practise Malhar Raga as his failure had traumatised him deeply. He moves to a dry place where people hardly experience rain and are in high need of it. His new destination is somewhat possessed by a fellow singer who has been trying to help the villagers in every possible however, he fails to bring rain through Malhar Raga. People still sense some hope that one day, he will triumph as the last scope of relief for them.

Madhu senses a familiar voice while he rests around a shelter and starts to find the source of the voice. He reaches the source and discovers it to be Bhola and gets elated. He draws closer to Bhola and starts to beat upon his body in order to produce a harmonic confrontation with the nature and clouds. Bhola scales up his voice with an able complement from his fellow companion Madhu. Rain falls down. The villagers start to celebrate the joyous calamity.

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