Dear R.S. Vimal,
Creating a period drama is no easy task. And yet, you captured the very essence of 1960s Kozhikode, transporting us, the viewers, into an enchanted fairyland of sorts, where the tiny, tightly-packed cinema halls use film reels to spin tales that satiate the imaginations of the bright-eyed viewers; where the non-judgmental boatman ferries various locals across the river, irrespective of their caste, colour, or religious beliefs; where the daydreaming youths are adorable as they enact the perfect relationship in their heads, and the charmed, strong-willed women reward them with coy smiles for their affection. And there are letters – several of them: mute witnesses to the poems of love feverishly written from the ink-stained tips of pens held gently in the hands of star-crossed lovers experiencing the thrill of mutual passion. Yes, Ennu Ninte Moideen is truly a fairytale, just like the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Layla and Majnun, Heer and Ranjha. It is a fairytale, precisely because it is cruel. It is beautiful, it is ideal; it helps us escape the quotidian issues of breakups, divorces and toxic relationships, and makes us believe in a theory we have been conditioned to ever since we were children: that someone, somewhere, is our soulmate (the rest of this theory is a clever ellipsis, craftily avoiding the greater details that one should be concerned about on hearing this feel-good conjecture). The film makes us root for an inseparable couple, makes us pray for a propitious conclusion to their endearing love story. Sir, your film is a celebration of every classic romance we have ever come across. It makes us shed bittersweet tears during the climax, and yet we believe.
We believe, because this is the love we all need, and that we think we deserve. A pure, unblemished emotion, born out of the union of two benevolent souls rather than two fervent, restless hearts. In times when the sanctity of love is being questioned using bigoted religious tenets (#LoveJihadIsFiction), Ennu Ninte Moideen is a timeless movie that helps us believe, especially when we are given a million reasons not to. The futility of forbidden love is washed away by the pleasant realisation of the immortality of this emotion. Ennu Ninte Moideen is a biographical movie seeking solace in creative liberty, and this is exactly why it helps us to believe, helps us to sit through this slow, deliberate meditation (reminiscent of writing a long missive), helps us to discover light in this supposed (peaceful) madness… madness! Is it not so? After all, it is quixotic to assume that two real humans refused to part with their feelings for each other and continued to love each other in the face of religious, familial, and societal oppression. Family members pass away, but their love does not perish. “Move on!” we wish to scream, along with, “It is futile!” and “How much longer?” (Well, 168 minutes of pure, undying love.) Yet, there is something beautiful, something extremely convincing about their amour. B.P. Moideen and Kanchanamala were very much creatures of flesh and blood (in fact, it is stated that the latter is still alive): stubborn individuals who miraculously trusted each other and their respective feelings, enough to keep waiting for each other for ages. Their love overcame unnecessary present-day labels as well as the trivial validation that is usually provided only when lovers experience physical intimacy together. Moideen and Kanchana transcend every societal limitation, every single constraint, and you, Sir, have elevated them to the status of near-deities (a Radha-Krishna bond, if you will). As the story progresses, they age, but what remains constant is their love for each other.
That, and the presence of rainfall. It rains cats and dogs throughout the film, providing enough liquid to feed Moideen’s pens and a million more letters, if he ever chose to write using transparent, watery ink. But yes, the rain remains a consistent symbol throughout the film. While paying homage to every single rain romance in history, it also represents the stages of the characters’ love. It is a pleasing, light shower in the early parts of the movie, illustrating the sweetness of romantic desire, and gradually gets heavier and heavier, concluding as a torrential downpour that conspires with the mighty Iruvanji River against Kanchana and Moideen, by snatching the latter away in a heartbreaking anticlimax (ending an illustrious man’s life as a politician, producer, writer, and erstwhile football player). It rains from the very beginning of the film – perhaps an unseen indication of the incoming tragedy. Maybe the raindrops symbolise Kanchana’s tears as she reminisces about her life and her loss, even today.
Ennu Ninte Moideen was developed from your 2007 documentary Jalam Kondu Murivetaval (literally, ‘The One Who Was Wounded by Water’; this brings a whole new meaning to the existence of rain in the film) and it is the perfect adaptation of a true story. The real-life Kanchanamala’s choice of Prithviraj as the charismatic Moideen merely adds to this perfection. Moideen’s eyes are innocent and full of love all the time; there is never a moment when you feel that he actually harbours ill-will towards anybody. He is a selfless young man, and it is this altruism of his that caused him to meet his end at the hands of the elements. When his eyes meet Kanchana’s (a splendid Parvathy Thiruvothu), there appears to be a certain kind of understanding and affection between the two of them that we, the viewers, cannot perceive (the fact that we are invested in such flatly-written characters – who are too unrealistically nice – showcases their proficiency in acting). Their feet walk the same earth upon which you and I walk, but they are in their own bubble, their own fairyland. They are not blind to reality, but they believe in their love much more than Ennu Ninte Moideen’s audiences can. I felt jealous of them, and the beautiful relationship that they possessed: there was something so ethereal and otherworldly about it.
Kanchana and Moideen are linked by their letters. These letters are a balm to their tortured souls (which are trapped by the restrictions imposed upon them, forcing them to wait forever in order to be together forever; forever love just became more credible with this film). This couple literally endorsed the famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. As much as they wished to elope together, they could not bear to hurt their respective family members or create any conflict in the process. No matter how much they were reminded of taboos, and were abused and hurt by their ménage, their love stood strong. In the end, their love proved to be stronger and more resilient than unreasonable religious hostilities.
There is a lot of visible irony in your film, Sir. At one point in the film, Kanchana is instructed by Moideen to wear the white garb of a widow in order to obstruct a marriage arranged for her by her orthodox family. It is a playful action on their part, and yet, a very bold one to prove their point to her family (while they try to battle a bigoted society, their end goal is to get married, because marriage, in those times, was the only way to validate and make their relationship official). And then, in the conclusion of Ennu Ninte Moideen, we see her actually living as Moideen’s widow (in the aftermath of his sudden death). Moideen somehow escapes death when his enraged father stabs him in the movie (it is after this moment that we think that surely nothing could get worse; we are proven wrong), but meets his end on a stormy monsoon day. It is the universe’s way of laughing at the poor couple, just to establish the fact that love cannot survive after death. And yet, even the universe’s ideologies are refuted by this naïve duo from Mukkam, Kerala. Tovino Thomas as Appu (a.k.a The Malayali Representative of The Association of Cinematic Love Triangle Losers Whom Nobody Cares About; other popular members include Jacob Black from The Twilight Saga and Caledon Hockley from Titanic), though sweet, never really gives us a reason to doubt the duo’s interfaith relationship. Neither Moideen’s bigoted father (played by Sai Kumar) nor Kanchana’s chauvinistic brother (Bala) succeeds in preventing their love from blossoming to unstoppable levels. Thankfully, an important character who does assist the two lovers in their romantic journey is Moideen’s supportive mother, played by Lena.
The devil is in the details, but so is Cupid. It is apparent to the audiences that a lot of love has been poured into each frame of Ennu Ninte Moideen by cinematographer Jomon T. John. Every time the camera focuses on the lovesick faces, beside the gentle light of a lamp, or the raindrops falling on muddy soil, or the dainty handwriting in one of the letters, we can feel the presence of love, of passion. The camerawork makes the dreamlike love story even more gorgeous. The musical trinity, comprising M. Jayachandran, Gopi Sunder, and Ramesh Narayan, has composed an excellent soundtrack that accentuates the beauty and pathos of Kanchana and Moideen’s doomed love story. Shreya Ghoshal’s melodious voice in ‘Kathirunnu’ (a song that speaks for the entire film) helps us to embrace and remember the moving aspects of this romantic tragedy.
Ennu Ninte Moideen evokes feelings of nostalgia; we reminisce about times when love was a much simpler concept for all of us, despite being repressed by undesired labels or present-day issues. As I mentioned before, it is a celebration of sempiternal love. To conclude, Sir, I would like to thank you. Thank you for helping us believe in this beautiful emotion: love.
A firm believer in true love.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.