In these 100 years of Tamil cinema, out of the few films that I like, my favourite is Uthiripookkal (1979). It is a simple family drama. If you watch it right now, you will be surprised. Nowadays, in the psycho-thriller genre, the storyline is the same — there’s an anonymous killer who strikes when there is no one at home, but leaves a few clues; the rest of the film is about how he’s caught.
There are different levels of psychosis. In this case, it is a husband who tortures his wife, and we see how he feels. It may seem like a family drama, but if you look closely and observe the atrocities committed by the husband, they will leave you shell shocked. His actions will seem more severe than a killer’s, because he kills emotions rather than people. By seeing this character, we immediately feel that we must not be like him, and should treat people with love.
In the first viewing, it may seem like a regular rural film, but it is much more than that. I can talk about the minute details and intricacies of this film for half an hour.
There is this scene of an interaction between a health inspector (Sarath Babu) who enters Lakshmi’s (Ashwini) house and tells her that he used to live on the same street as her. She tells him she doesn’t remember seeing him. He tells her that he had come to her house asking for her hand in marriage after seeing her walk down the road, and there is a flashback where we see her father (Charuhasan) telling him that his daughter is already engaged to one of their relatives. Lakshmi remembers this. In the very next scene, she seems to think about her life and being married to a tyrant, but she does not want the health inspector to know how bad her life is. And so, she wears flowers, a raity, as a way of telling him to not feel sad for her and to show him that her life is good and to hide her misery.
This is just an example of the many beautiful details in this movie. This is why I consider Uthiripookkal as a very important, and my favourite film.