Swayamvaram (1972)“ On Own Will ” – Alt. Title (Translation)
Arguably the first Malayalam film to use sync sound and stark aural ambiances, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s debut feature which took 7 years to materialise (thanks to financial wrangling by the Film Finance Corporation), Swayamvaram was a watershed in Malayalam Cinema. The movie marks the debut of Bharat Gopy and Karamana Janardhanan Nair in film, the director’s first feature and the Chitralekha Film Co-op’s foray into film production. Garnering worldwide recognition and critical acclaim on release, Swayamvaram (1972) could easily be called the pioneer in ushering in the New Wave Cinema movement in Malayalam Cinema.
|Bharat Gopy [ Debut ]|
|Karamana Janardhanan Nair [Debut]|
|G Shankara Pillai, Vaikkom Chandrashekharan Nair, KPAC Lalitha, Adoor Bhavani, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair|
|Artist Vallyathan, Somashekharan Nair, PK Venukkuttan Nair, BK Nair|
|Story||Adoor Gopalakrishnan, KP Kumaran|
|Screenplay||Adoor Gopalakrishnan, KP Kumaran|
|Dialog||Adoor Gopalakrishnan, KP Kumaran|
|Background Music||MB Sreenivasan|
|Cinematography||Mankada Ravi Varma|
|Art Direction||Sivan, Devadathan|
Viswam and Sita, the lovers, cut themselves off from their family moorings and elope to a new place to fend for themselves. The early days are blissful, but they soon run short of money. Viswam can’t publish his novel, the ornaments are sold, they change residence from a good hotel to an ordinary one, and then to a dilapidated house in a none-too-respectable locality. After a spell of teaching in a tutorial college, which turns out to be a losing concern, Viswam becomes a clerk in a timber mill, replacing a fired employee.
They try to set up a happy and humble abode. Around them are good neighbors and bad ones, helpers and exploiters. Soon dreams lose their lustre as they struggle on precariously. There are hardships aplenty, there are also the big compensations of love. Then death comes unobtrusively and takes away the bread-winner. Sita and her baby are left to face the myriad problems of life. How will they do it? The film answers no questions.
Interview with Adoor as Swayamvaram (1972 ) turns 40
It is the 40th anniversary of auteur Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s first feature film Swayamvaram. The filmmaker talks about the film and its cast and the period in which it was made. Swayamvaram was Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s first feature film, made seven years after he passed out of the Film and Television Institute of India. It celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year and is being screened in Goa on November 24 as part of the event to honour Dada Saheb Phalke awardees.
The Indian Press Reviews
The British Press Reviews
The Soviet Press Reviews
National Awards (1973)
National Film Award for Best Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
National Film Award for Best Actress: Sharada
National Film Award for Best Cinematography: Mankada Ravi Varma.
Kerala State Film Awards (1973)
Kerala State Film Award for Best Art Direction: Devadathan
Moscow International Film Festival(1973)
Bharat Gopy’s Onscreen Debut : An Overview
48 Seconds ! That’s all the screen time that a lean, wiry Bharat Gopy with a receding hairline has in his debut film, Swayamvaram (1972). As the nameless “lean, wiry, middle-aged, balding man” [how Adoor Gopalakrishnan describes the nameless character in the screenplay], it didn’t even take less than a minute for the debutante to prove to the world about his innate, “seething” talent. Shorn of pretense and melodrama, he was absolutely at ease as the ex-book keeping clerk of the wood mill, turning the economy of words in the screenplay to a wrenching testimony of emotions that stay with you even after you leave the cinema.