INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
OF INDIA 2003
Tamil/97 minutes/35 mm/Colour
The film is based on the famous
Tamil short novel Kidai, written by Sahitya Akademi award-winner
K. Rajanarayan. It is set in the late 19th century
in Alampatti, a small village in southern Tami Nadu. The people
earn their living by growing cotton and goat rearing. The local
zamindar mercilessly extracts tax from the people but the tax
money never reaches the government treasury. He squanders it on
his own pleasures.
John Williams, a revenue divisional
officer goes to meet the zamindar to assess the situation. He
refuses to believe it when he is told that people had not paid
their taxes owing to poor rainfall. The real picture comes to
light when he meets Sevani, a shepherdess. She arranges for a
meeting between Williams and the elders of the village.
Sevani is a Dalit girl in
love with an upper caste boy Ellappan, a playboy who moves freely
with her. But Sevani believes that she will become his wife. She
is innocent and does not think that her low-caste status will
stand in her way. She is also fearless. One day when they are
lost in themselves, their unattended goats stray into a cotton
field and destroy the crops. The owner of the land Rakkayee, a
widow, appears before kidari, the chief of the sheepfold, and
According to the local custom,
the goats cannot leave the sheepfold until the aggrieved is paid
compensation by the owner of the cattle that destroyed the crops.
Kidari calls for a Panchayat meeting to assess the damages. Subbiah,
an expert, is pressed into service. With telltale clues he knows
who the real culprits are. The panchayat accuses Ponnuswamy, a
known thief who always evades being caught. Ponnuswamy pays the
compensation but insists that he is not responsible for the loss
of the widow’s crops. But he becomes a reformed person.
Subbiah reveals to Ellappan’s
father the proximity between his son and Sevani. The revenue officer
leaves the village after submitting his findings and recommendation
to the district collector. The zamindar’s men beat Sevani severely
since she was responsible for arranging the meeting between the
village elders and the British official. The zamindar demands
more tax. Ellappan’s father and his clan decide to leave the village.
Word reaches them that the district collector has taken away the
zamindar’s lands and reallocated them among the villagers so that
the latter can pay the tax directly to the government. Everyone
acknowledges the role played by Sevani.
The villagers now think of
Ellappan’s marriage. Sevani approaches kidari, who convenes a
panchayat meeting. The village elders want Sevani to be happy
so they ask her to leave the village with Ellappan and get married
elsewhere. Sevani realizes what it is to be a low-caste girl.
She tells them she cannot leave her village, her people and her
goats and run away like a coward with Ellappan. She refuses marriage…
Producer: S. Thara
Director: Amshan Kumar
Screenplay: Amshan Kumar
Camera: P.S. Dharan
Editor: S. Satish & J.N.
Art: A.C. Pillai
Music: L. Vaidyanathan
Cast: Poorvaja, Ganesh Babu,
Raju Balasingh, Bharati Mani, Thomas Ober