Every year, Malayalis eagerly wait for Onam. The state festival of Kerala heralds merriment and joy. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has cast a pall of gloom on Onam season this year.
Taking a cue from the current situation, 'Onamaanu', a music video by Hari M Mohanan, depicts the harsh realities of life and makes us realise that the festival season is not just about the colourful pookalams and the Onasadhya.
The music video takes the viewer through the life of an elderly man who lives alone in a hilly village. He is seen farming, having tea with other villagers and going out occasionally. However, in his home, he suffers from loneliness.
The elderly man buys toys for his grandchildren, prepares sadhya for his family but no one comes to visit him. The video delves into the heartbreaking lives of neglected elderly people who celebrate Onam in isolation for years.
‘Onamaanu’ is sung and composed by Vidyadharan Master and Hari’s father M P Mohanan plays the lead role. “I love to do human interest stories. There are many who still work at later stages of life to make a living. Their children or relatives are unwilling to support them them. Yet they live without complaints, hoping their children will visit them one day,” says Hari. Shilpa Baby co-wrote the script of the video.
Hari adds that he could relate to the context from his personal experience. "I moved to Kochi with my father after my mother died. I saw his loneliness after she passed away," he said.
Though Hari wanted to shoot the song last year, it didn’t work out. "The lyricist Kaviprasad Gopinath called me in July to ask if we could go ahead with the project. We started working on it immediately. The post production works were wrapped up by the second week of August," he added.
Swaroop Philip cranked the camera for the music video which has been produced by Copybook Films. Hari says that it’s the responsibility of children to ensure their parents don’t feel lonely. "The problem is that we assume our parents are happy when we call them once a while or send them money. Also, for us, Onam is all about making athams and celebration. I have just shown a what it is like to celebrate in isolation," says Hari.
The son has been getting good response from the viewers. "Many have called me to say they spoke to their parents after watching the video. But I want them to show it to their children. The children need to know the grief of the elderly man in the video. Parents need to explain it, only then will the children realise the issue. Otherwise, the parents will be in the same situation as the protagonist of my video," adds Hari.
According to Hari, Vidhyadharan Master’s voice was apt for the song. Hari says that one should not wait for a festival to visit family. "With the Covid-19 situation, many won’t be able to celebrate Onam at their homes. Still, parents won’t complain. So, travel to see them whenever you can. Onam can be celebrated any day. Share your love with them, have food with them, talk to them or spend time sitting with them."