“ನಾಯಿ ನೆರಳು” ಖ್ಯಾತ ನಿರ್ದೇಶಕ ಗಿರೀಶ್ ಕಾಸರವಳ್ಳಿಯವರ ನಿರ್ದೇಶನದ ಚಿತ್ರ. ಇನ್ನೆರಡು ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇದೇ ಚಿತ್ರ ಕುರಿತಾದ ಎರಡು ಬರಹಗಳನ್ನು ಹಾಕುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಈ ಬರಹ ನಿರಂಜನ್ ಕಗ್ಗೆರೆಯವರದ್ದು, ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ನಲ್ಲಿದೆ. ಕನ್ನಡ ಅನುವಾದ ಮಾಡಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ, ಕ್ಷಮೆ ಇರಲಿ.
Making novel based films is not something new to Girish Kasaravalli. But his Naayi Neralu unlike the previous experiments stands apart from its approach and presentation of the subject. While many of his previous cinemas that are more or less unfold in parallel with the novel, The Naayi Neralu takes off with a refreshed outlook and woman centric insight into the story pitched around the theory of rebirth, Karma and penance. Deviating slenderly from the original story and plot, Girish Kasaravalli conceptualises the entire story on matriarchal characters. Naayi Neralu, being the simplest of all Kasaravalli movies, is not exclusion to the portrayal of women as lead character.
Hence Venkatalaxmi, Rajalaxmi and Nagalaxmi, the three chief characters play a pivotal role throughout the cinema. Division of entire film into four different parts under the name of each character mentioned above lends freshness to the Kasaravalli’s morphed story telling. In fact, the three different types of characterization, involving varying age and mentality, has helped the director to look at the idea of rebirth from three different angles. Thus, for a viewer who has already read the work it clearly admonishes the fact that more than the original work, how one perceives and interprets a particular situation becomes more crucial for a movie.
From the outset Naayi Neralu is the story of Achchannaiah (Sringeri Ramanna) and his wife Nagalaxmi (Rameshwari Varma) living with their widowed daughter-in-law Venkatalaxmi (Pavitra Lokesh) and granddaughter Rajalaxmi (Ananya Kasaravalli) in the traditional Havyaka set up. Of late, Achchannaiah discovers the rebirth of his son Ramanna as Vishwa (Ashwin Bolar) who died 20 years ago and eventually brings him home altering the lives of other members of the house. Nagalaxmi, to whom faith is crucial not only accepts him but also coaxes Venku to accept him and so is the case with other villagers. But Rajalaxmi, the only rational regards it as foul and hatched conspiracy to grab their property. And, further the movie circumvents around the socio-cultural conflicts arising out of misjudged opportunities.
His efforts to re-interpret the entire text, befitting his feministic stand in terms of characterisation and the division of movie into chapters, have all added to his efforts of beautifully crafting unusual philosophic tale in an assertive way. The abode of Bhootaradhane and temples of conservative Malnad, the vexing silence deep inside the lush evergreen forests and shrouded mysteries appear as metaphors and reflects the mood of each character. Having chosen a serene ambience for his crafted tale, Girish directly gets into the core of the story without any beating around the bush unnecessarily.
The second part of the movie named Nagalaxmi personifies the theme of love through the character Nagalaxmi. Having been recovered from her prolonged dispensed condition, Nagalaxmi trusts Vishwa completely and douses him in the warmth of maternal love and affection. Not satisfied with this, she compels Venku to accept him as her ‘husband’ by donning the coloured saree and ornaments. The tussle of willingness and unwillingness between two sections of people faithfully represented by Nagu and Venku, finally ends with Venku’s union with Vishwa which is incidental as well as conscious.
The third part ‘Rajalaxmi’ seemed to be the embodiment of prejudiced believes of people about rebirth as Venku’s daughter Raji dons more rational outlook. Vishwa, even though accepted by all, is not acceptable as the husband of Venku. Contradictory to this, Venku is portrayed as a scapegoat of others’ belief and having no firm opinion of her own. Even her daughter Raji is not void of this as she too criticises venku’s relation with Vishwa. By conducting ‘Shraadda’, hitherto not done by her, Raji sends across a strong signal that the dead father is dead for ever and another relationship in his name is unlawful. Her staunchness in protecting her mother and challenging Vishwa legally, unfolds vivid alternatives in dealing with the absurdities of life.
The last part ‘Venkatalaxmi’, contravening with earlier logical debates about believes and their impact on lives abruptly goes beyond the purview of logical issues. The part goes successful in constructing an independent personality of Venkatalxmi. The last conversation with her daughter when she says “Ma, didn’t you ever doubt him?”, Venku replies “Doubts stems from believing!” stuns Raji and thus Venku affirms that she never believed in rebirth but only acted according to the wishes of elders. Re-interpretation of the story by making use of the same original characters within the original frame is something unique to Girish Kasaravalli.
The two characters such as Malnad signifying the stagnant and conservative mindset is contrasted with the broad and encompassing backwaters of sea which is more refreshing and soothing as suggested in the fourth part. Acting wise Pavitra Lokesh looks splendid in the role of a widow. Her intense mannerisms and articulation in the unknown Havyaka Kannada, stands testimony to Pavitra’s potential talent. Sringeri Ramanna and Rajeshwari Varma score very well and their theatre background is etched and visible in every frame. Ashwin Bolar basks comfortably in the role of Vishwa with articulating facial diktats. Ananya’s acting, though sometimes goes artificial, is promising as well. S. Ramachandra’s photography has indeed become a character in itself with stunning silent shots speaking themselves when actors pause. Naayi Neralu has come at a period when everybody categorise Kasaravalli as complex director and story teller. Being the simplest of all his movies it mirrors his talent as well as craftsmanship.