KOCHI: While euthanasia is still being debated in the legal corridors of the country, down in different parts of Tamil Nadu, there is an age-old tradition that allows people facing health issues to end their life.
The tradition is called ‘Thalaikoothal’, which means an oil bath which kills the person. This is the subject that Santhosh Mandoor has explored in his feature film Pani.
The morbid practice involves an extensive oil-bath early in the morning, following which they are made to drink glasses of tender coconut water. The immediate change in the body temperature causes renal failure, high fever, and eventual death within a day or two. Apart from this, there are about 26 different types of killings that are followed in the process of Thalaikoothal.
In this full-fledged feature film, the director highlights the fact that even now this age-old tradition is being followed but often goes unnoticed. “This heinous custom of Thalaikoothal was practiced to end the suffering of the elderly people who were severely ill and it was carried out with the help of a person after getting confirmation from the family. But, now the children think that they have the liberty to kill their parents even if it is for money and they treat it as a natural death,” says Santhosh.
The director has tried to keep a subtle title Pani so that people can see how a simple fever erupts as a single cause for the death of a person. The film features Raghavan and his family who relocate to rural Madurai from Palakkad. “ Raghavan is a nature-lover and has been living there for more than 50 years. He has planted trees in the village and his house is located in the middle of a forest. The film portrays how this practice of Thalaikoothal changes his life,” says the director.
Santhosh says that it took him around two years to bring out this film as he had to research a lot. “Not only the oil bath method, there are different practices being followed such as force-feeding everything from mud to milk which finally led to organ failure. The film also involves all these factors which add to the cruelty meted out to the victims,” he explains.
M R Gopakumar is seen in the lead role and Roslin and Nishant Sagar play the key roles. Madhu Ambat cranks the camera and Issac Thomas Kottukapally has done the music. B Lenin is the editor and the film is produced under the banner of Touchwood Creations.
Soudha Sherrif and Aamir Sherrif have produced the film. The director says, “ It was produced after a continuous discussion with Aamir Sherrif who took a keen interest in the subject of the film,”. He has done many short films but this is his first feature film.