The film recently made headlines for inciting the men in cassocks. R Sarath’s ‘Parudeesa’, which hits the screens today, deals with a highly volatile subject - religion. The film cuts through two conflicting worlds digging deep into the intricacies of faith.
“It’s a baseless allegation that the film instigates an anti-religious propaganda. In fact ‘Parudeesa’ is a film that glorifies Christ. It makes a jibe at the situation where religion supercedes everything else, even god. From the progressive ideologies of 60s and 70s we are going back to the perils of theocracy,” says the filmmaker. He insists that the film doesn’t evoke any anti-christian sentiment nor does it devalue faith. “The film attacks superstitions and regression from a pointblank position,” he adds.
The film, set against the backdrop of a remote hillside hamlet, unravels the story of a priest and a verger. While the priest is still lost in the labyrinth of orthodoxy, verger has a very liberated outlook about religion, or rather life in general.
“The film captures the quintessential conflict flickered by the situation,” says Sarath. Sreenivasan plays Fr Anjilithanam, the priest, while Thampi Antony appears as Jose,the progressive verger.
Vinu Abraham, who has penned the script of the film, says in a sense ‘Parudeesa’ attempts to define faith. “We are trying to tell that despite all its external rigidity, religion, at its core, should be a progressive forum.”
The film zooms into a parish which stays uneventful till the arrival of the verger. He starts preaching and endorsing modernist principles wrecking a havoc in the conservative village. While the church and its rules are in favour of the priest, the verger is forced to take the road less travelled. “Fr Anjilithanam is a clergyman who equates salvation with religious conventions. The concept of liberation theology endows a revolutionary nature to religion and Jose’s character shows traits of that movement. The pious villagers are introduced to an all-new ideology by him and the film explores the conflict,” says Vinu.
The filmmaker adds that his film simply reflects a scenario where religion has become a tool of alienation. “Now religion has evolved into a separate entity which is totally detached from man and god,” he says.
Shweta Menon plays a key character as Thresya, a cook at the near-by convent. Jagathy Sreekumar plays Authachan, another full-length character, ‘Parudeesa’ being the last film he completed before the accident.
The scenarist says though the film has a serious storyline the treatment is breezy and satiric. “The film is definitely told with a tinge of satire, at the same time it also has a strong emotional angle.”
The film was mainly shot in Erumapra near Erattupetta and Vinu Abraham says it was more like a miracle to find the exact locale he visualised for the film. “We wanted a church that stands high on a mountainous terrain and got this ancient church that was established more than a century back by the missionaries. It was the first time a movie camera entered its premises,” he says.
The film is produced by Thampi Antony under the banner of Kayal Fiilms. Indrans, Nandu, Lakshmi Menon, Krishna Prasad and Jayakrishnan are also part of the cast.