Yamanam (1991)“Restraint” – (Lit. Translation)
Yamanam was based on George Onakkoor‘s novel Kamana (1981) to which Bharat Gopy added his own personal experiences and perspectives post his paralytic stroke, and was Bharat Gopy’s third directorial venture. With Archana in the leading role, the film went on to win the National Award for the Best Film on Other Social Issues and got P Santha Devi the National Award for the Best Supporting Actress. The film also won G Devarajan the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Background Score for a Malayalam Film.
|P Santha Devi|
|Lyrics||K Ayyappa Panicker|
|Singers||Lekha R Nair|
|Cinematography||Suresh P Nair|
|Art Direction||Rajeev Anchal|
Ambili is restricted to a wheelchair because of a childhood attack of polio. She is skilled at making toys and models. She and her widowed mother are gradually sidelined in their own home by her brother Devan and his wife Raji. Devan and Raji decide to move out which makes Ambili and her mother feel more isolated and alienated. One of Ambili’s architectural models gets sold for a handsome price which makes her more enthusiastic, hopeful and energetic about her hobby and the future. Two children move in next door as their new neighbors and Ambili and her mother find new joys in life.
The children’s uncle, a doctor, gets involved with their neighbors, primarily to treat Ambili’s mother and because of his growing feelings for Ambili. One day the doctor proposes marriage to Ambili. She realises his feelings are only based on sympathy and so she refuses him, and re-enters her work-room with a renewed sense of purpose.
A Movie Clipping from Yamanam (1991)
The Hindu on Yamanam
The film’s strong point is the extraordinary directorial control over the cast, especially of the two central characters, Ambili and her mother. “Yamanam” underplays emotions and nowhere does it seep into excess.
The Economic Times on Yamanam
In fact, the film serves to highlight the impression that it is not the handicapped heroine but those who glibly talk about her deprivation that are handicapped. The degree of self-awareness attained by the heroine excellently brought out by the actress Archana, is a measure of the success of this unusual and unconventional presentation of a vital social and psychological concern.
In Yamanam, Gopy has apotheosised the role of the handicapped heroine. All the other characters, the sets, visuals and music, the very landscape of the film conceived as a kind of backdrop – everything contributes to the building up of the central character. With obsessive concentration, which at times becomes oppressive, the frame-by-frame unfolding of the story highlights her semiotics. The wheel chair, the restricted mobility even in outdoor scenes, the conspicuous absence of the unlived life – all these are testament to this vision.
Yamanam has the quality of a dream. What could have been presented as a nightmare of melodramatic scenes is addressed here, by the gentle caressing touch of the director’s invisible hand, into a poem of solid objectivity. There is no excessive subjectivity and display of high voltage emotion. The ‘filmi’ elements are subdued and even inverted. The dialogue is minimal, but not done away with.
Prof Ayyappa Paniker's review of Yamanam.
The poetics of this film, expressed mainly through the highly personalised semiotics of the director, confirms not only Gopy’s understanding of the self-awareness of the handicapped but also his severe self-control and discipline in using every frame, every foot of the film. The display of sentiment and sympathy is resented by those who have to live under the constant awareness of being handicapped. Yamanam is not just a dramatization of the plight of the handicapped, its a revelation or epiphany of post-modernist film poetics.
National Film Awards – 1992
Best Film - Other Social Issues
The Award Citation reads :
The Award for the Best Film on Social Issues such as Prohibition, Women and Child Welfare, Anti-Dowry, Drug Abuse and Welfare of the Handicapped for 1991 is given to the Malayalam film Yamanam for advocating the cause of the physically handicapped and upholding their right to be on their own, in a world that is more generous with its sympathy than understanding. Padmashree Bharat Gopy receives the Rajat Kamal and a cash prize of Rs 15,000/-, as the Director.
Best Supporting Actress - P Santha Devi
The award for the Best Supporting Actress of 1991 is given to Santha Devi for her work in the Malayalam film Yamanam, who lives the role of the understanding and tormented mother. Santha Devi Nair receives the Rajat Kamal and a cash prize for Rs 10,000/-.
Kerala State Film Awards – 1991
Best Background Score for a Film – G Devarajan.
On Directing Yamanam: An Overview.
My subject is about a young handicapped girl, affected by polio and deprived of everything in life, who ponders over her ill-fate. I would not like to call it ill-fate, but helplessness. The original story was by George Onakkoorbut I changed it a little to suit me, so as to bring out my experiences. I gave her life strength and bravery. I wanted to share my strength with her. And I think no one is tailor-made for that role than Archana.
She is one actress who grasps every variation of the character, and after the initial session with her when the story was explained, she got totally amalgamated into the role within a few hours, to the extent of manipulating the movements of the wheel chair in a manner which looked very natural.
I am not a veteran film-maker but Archana’s acting has contributed much to help me in bagging the award.
– Bharat Gopy, Director.