Elektra (2010 film)

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Elektra
Elektra film.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Shyamaprasad
Produced by N. B. Vindhyan
Screenplay by Shyamaprasad
Kiran Prabhakar
Starring Nayantara
Manisha Koirala
Prakash Raj
Biju Menon
Skanda Ashok
Music by Alphons Joseph
Cinematography Sanu George Varghese
Edited by Vinod Sukumaran
Distributed by Rasika Entertainment
Release date(s)
  • November 24, 2010 (2010-11-24) (IFFI)
Country India
Language Malayalam

Elektra is a 2010 Malayalam psychological drama film co-written and directed by Shyamaprasad, starring Nayantara, Manisha Koirala, Prakash Raj, Biju Menon and Skanda Ashok.[1] It was produced by N. B. Vindhyan, who also produced Shyamaprasad's Ore Kadal.

The film is based on the story of the Greek mythological character Electra,[2] although it has a contemporary setting in an aristocratic family in Kerala. It draws strongly on four adaptations of the myth: Electra by Sophocles, Electra by Euripides, Oresteia by Aeschylus and Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill. Key to the film is the concept of the Electra complex; a daughter's psychosexual competition with her mother for her father's affection. A rueful journey into the bruised familial bonds of an aristocratic household in Central Kerala, the film explores desire and loss.

The film premiered at the International Film Festival of India in November 2010. It made its international premiere at the 7th Dubai International Film Festival.

Plot[edit]

Elektra (Nayantara) lives in a world torn between passion and fixation. She is so possessive of her father Abraham (Prakash Raj), that when he returns home from his plantation in Jaffna, she plans to poison his mind about his wife Diana (Manisha Koirala) having an affair with Isaac (also played by Prakash Raj).

When Abraham arrives, he is at first unaware of the impending drama. However, by the dawn of the following day, he is dead. Consumed with rage and grief, Elektra blames her mother for the death, and seeks vengeance. When Elektra's brother, Edwin (Suraj Skanda) – who is plagued by an Oedipus complex – arrives for the funeral, Elektra tells him about their mother's alleged affair.

In the midst of the scandal, Elektra turns to police officer Peter (Biju Menon), who is in love with her, as a source of calm and sanity. But Elektra and Edwin end up destroying each other, trapped by forbidden desires. Diana is brutally victimised.

Cast[edit]

Themes[edit]

Further information: Electra complex and Oedipus complex

In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for the possession of her father. The film's plot revolves around this concept. Like most of Shyamaprasad's films, Elektra is also female centric; there are two strong female characters. When asked if this was intentional, Shyamarasad said:

"No, no, not at all. It just happened. To be human is a critical factor, whatever I do, whatever subject I choose, I try to revolve it around human relations, be it Agnisakshi, Ritu or Ore Kadal. The dilemma within the heart is what interests me. I am not interested in huge spectacles, history or men overcoming evil.

It is not intentional on my part to choose only women-oriented subjects. In my film Akale too there were two strong female characters – Margaret and Rose – but the central character was Neil. My next film is with superstar Mammooty and the treatment will also be like my other films.

I would say, women are perfect human beings. They gracefully handle every role in life; be it as a daughter, wife, mother or friend. They are complete, balanced persons. They laugh, cry and love; they also have darker overtones to their behaviour. And I love to handle subjects that are often untold. In Elektra my central character happens to be a female and she is a woman with all these feelings. I like presenting the different shades of women which are often neglected".[3]

Elektra is the darkest of all the films made by Shyamaprasad so far. The English title of the movie is Light After Dark. About the "darkness treatment" in the film, Shyamaprasad said:

"The film goes into the dark depths of the soul. How much evil is the human mind capable of and how can we redeem ourselves? How do we recognise and deal with the guilt? I am interested in why human beings do certain things or choose not to do certain things. To what extent do we go to achieve meaning and happiness in life. Is the process rewarding? Is there a price to be paid? It is a philosophical and psychological quest. We make these choices every day in our lives. It is a critical and fundamental question that is being examined in an emotional family story. It is not overly philosophical until the very end when Diana, the lead character, evolves into this wiser and better person".[4]

All the characters in Elektra have a negative tint to them. Shyamaprasad said:

"All human beings have their grey areas and I am more interested in exploring that. Elektra is a kind of psycho-sexual murder mystery. The story unravels in Amarath the ancestral house of Abraham, which has a long history of mysterious deaths and sly relations.

Abraham, the planter comes from Jaffna to his ancestral home in central Kerala unaware of the unpleasant things waiting for him. On the night of his arrival, he dies under mysterious circumstances and the cloud of suspicion falls on everyone. But Elektra, who is madly in love with her father, points her finger at her mother. Elektra also succeeds in convincing her brother Edwin, a mamma's boy, that their mother has poisoned their father, and that she plans to kill Isaac, the estranged cousin of Abraham who is Diana's lover.

Be it Abraham, Isaac, Edwin, Elektra or Diana, all have negative shades. They are all human beings with normal feelings. They all feel love, possessiveness and have hidden agendas for their loved ones. Life is like that and every relationship has its own rights and wrongs".[3]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The film is based on the story of the Greek mythological character Electra. Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, that story revolves around the vengeance that Electra and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. There are many adaptations of the story. The 2011 film is particularly inspired by the plays Electra by Sophocles, Electra by Euripides, Oresteia by Aeschylus and Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill.[5][6]

Shyamaprasad says that Electra is a play that has stayed with him since his student days in the Thrissur School of Drama.[4] In a December 2010 interview, he said:

"It was a long cherished dream. I had this in my mind even when I was studying at the School of Drama. I was really very much influenced by the Greek drama, the strong female character, her love towards her father, her piousness, how she uses her brother to kill her stepfather, etc. I often felt that it has got the entire recipe for a good film. After Ritu, when I was thinking about my next film, this Greek drama resurfaced. Nayantara showed interest in working with me. That was when I thought adapting Electra for the silver screen would be a challenge worth taking.[3]

Shyamaprasad was assisted in the script writing by Kiran Prabhakar. Rather than focusing on the essence of revenge in the myth, they tried to include the theme of Elektra's obsessive love for her father. Most of Shyamaprasad's previous works were adaptations of published novels or plays. About the adaptation of Elektra, Shyamaprasad said: "My film is a modern retelling of the Greek classic in a Malayali setting. But it closely follows the philosophy of the ancient text and the Grecian theory of drama that intense fear and pity lead to a purification of the emotions of the audience, making it a cathartic experience."[4]

Even before Ritu, Shyamaprasad's previous film, reached theatres, news about Elektra had created a buzz as Nayantara was tipped to play the lead in the movie.[7] The film, though adapted from a Greek myth, has a contemporary setting in an aristocratic family in Kerala.[8] The making of the film was also inspired by K. G. George's magnum opus film, Erakal.[4]

Casting[edit]

"My films are about very strong individuals who are caught in a vicious cycle of relationships. To portray those characters, I want actors who are capable of understanding that emotional intensity. I want actors who have proved themselves and are capable of diving into the depths of the characters. Not someone who is just beautiful. Elektra is minimalistic in its setting and cast. There are only five main characters and it is a frugal, no-frills mood that pervades the film."[4]

- Shyamaprasad in an interview with The Hindu

Elektra is minimalistic in its setting and cast, with only five main characters. Nayantara plays Elektra, the lead character.[9] She was cast after she expressed a desire to work with Shyamaprasad. Nayantara says: "I am doing this film purely for creative satisfaction, as it offers me an opportunity to showcase my histrionics skills. I am excited that I am going to explore a new genre and the director is insisting on spontaneity. So, I intend to go to the sets with an open mind."[10] When asked the reason for entrusting such a strong role to Nayantara, Shyamaprasad said, "Everyone has this question. To be frank, after Ritu, I happened to meet Nayantara and she said she was really interested in doing movies with me. She was very keen on doing a meaningful role, something with substance. Usually she does those, you know, the glamorous, superficial roles which I guess supports her career. But she nursed the desire to do much deeper roles. Thus Elektra happened."[3] Nayantara also gave voice to the character.[11] Prakash Raj plays Elektra's father, and Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala plays the mother, who is also the main antagonist.[12] The film is Koirala's debut in Malayalam cinema.[13] About her casting, Shyamaprasad says: "At the initial stages of scripting itself, I had drawn a picture of the character in my mind and I wanted somebody very attractive yet very powerful to do the role. There was nobody I could think of other than Manisha. In terms of beauty, the inner quality of the character she identifies with and her experience in films, she was the perfect choice for me as Diana. When I approached her, she loved the script. She said she wanted to work with me and said would definitely be part of my dream project. I appreciate her move, as Malayalam as a language is really tough to learn and pronounce for an actor. But she pulled it off so gracefully. I have full admiration towards her and her work."[3] Koirala says that she was advised by many not to do the film, as her role has an extramarital affair.[14] Film actress Praveena gave voice to Koirala's character.[15]

Kannada actor Skanda Ashok (Sooraj Skanda), who had a notable debut in Malayalam through Roshan Andrews's Notebook (2006), plays the role of Edwin, Elektra's brother, who is a neurotic, and according to him, "a sort of an underdog who goes on to save the day."[16] Biju Menon, Srikumar and Sruthi Menon also play important roles in the film.[4] There were reports that Tamil actor Arya was also cast in the movie.[17]

Filming[edit]

Principal production for the film started on 23 April 2010.[18] Major portions of the filming were held at an old mansion, Kalapurackal House in Edakochi, Kerala.[19] Cinematography was handled by Sanu George Varghese, making his debut in Malayalam.[7] He made his feature film debut the previous year with Karthik Calling Karthik.[7]

Release[edit]

The film was premiered at the International Film Festival of India on 24 November 2010, where the lead performances were widely praised. It was the fifth Shyamaprasad film to be screened at the IFFI, and was one of the five Malayalam films selected to be screened that year.[20][21] It was screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala on 14 December, where it also received overwhelmingly positive responses.[22] However, the film provoked protests at both these festivals for its sensuous themes.[23] Elektra made its international premiere at the 7th Dubai International Film Festival, where it was the only South Indian film to be selected.[24][25] Elektra was the second Shyamaprasad film to be screened at the DIFF (the other being Ore Kadal) and the film received rave reviews there.[26]

In September 2010, the Ernakulam Principal Munisif Court stayed the release and distribution of the film, following an allegation by the film's original distributor Martin Sebastin that the producer Vindhyan and his Rasika Entertainment were trying to release it on their own.[27] The film was slated for a theatrical release on 3 December 2010,[8] but the date was postponed many times.[28]

Accolades[edit]

Kerala State Film Awards
Official Selections

Soundtrack[edit]

Ouseppachan was signed to do music for the film,[1] but was replaced by Alphons Joseph, who became well known in India for the song "Aaromale". The film is Joseph's first collaboration with Shyamaprasad, who has never worked with a music director for the second time. The lyrics were penned by Rafeeq Ahmed and Shelton Pinhiro. The soundtrack includes three songs.

No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Arikil Varu"   Gayatri 3:34
2. "Ekakiyaayi"   Sayanora 4:28
3. "Let's Dance"   Alphons Joseph 3:47

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Shyamaprasad casts Nayantara with Manisha Koirala for 'Electra'". Nowrunning. 14 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Regional films steal the show at Goa film festival". Times of India. 28 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Reshmi Padma (27 December 2010). "Women are perfect human beings". Rediff.com. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Saraswathy Nagarajan (3 December 2010). "Heart of Darkness". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  5. ^ Sangeetha Swaroop (21 January 2011). "My world: Shyamaprasad Rajagopal". Gulf News. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Saraswathy Nagarajan (11 September 2009). "Waves of applause". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c Saraswathy Nagarajan (28 May 2010). "The ‘Elektra' complex". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  8. ^ a b "Manisha Koirala's Elektra screened at IFFI". Businessofcinema. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  9. ^ "Nayantara turns to do art films". One India. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  10. ^ B.V.S. Prakash (29 April 2010). "Nayanthara excited for 'Electra'". Times of India. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Saraswathy Nagarajan (20 May 2010). "Electrifying Elektra". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  12. ^ "Manisha Koirala to play Nayan's mom!". Sify.com. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Manisha Koirala goes to Malayalam!". Sify.com. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "Manisha takes to painting, to hold her first exhibition". Deccan Herald. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Pavithra Srinivasan (5 January 2011). "Praveena conquers Tamil TV". Rediff.com. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Liza George (11 May 2010). "Unconventional actor". The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  17. ^ Arya Aiyappan (28 July 2009). "Arya - Nayantara in Shyamaprasad's Electra". Oneindia.in. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "Nayantara's Electra to kick off soon". One India. 13 April 2010. 
  19. ^ Priyadeshini. S (20 May 2010). "Method acting and ‘waiting for talents'". The Hindu. 
  20. ^ "Elektra Dazzles IFFI with Its Electrifying Performances". Press Information Bureau. 24 November 2010. 
  21. ^ Soyesh H. Rawther (19 October 2010). "Malayalam film makers plan alternative screening outside IFFI venues". The Hindu. 
  22. ^ "'Elektra' draws big crowds at IFFK". Express News Service. The Indian Express. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  23. ^ Gautaman Bhaskaran (23 December 2010). "Movies of substance". Gulf News. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "Elektra at DIFF". DIFF. 14 November 2010. 
  25. ^ "Dubai premiere for Manisha Koirala's "Elektra"". Emirates247.com. 24 December 2010. 
  26. ^ "Electrifying the crowd". The Hindu. 24 December 2010. 
  27. ^ "Shyamaprasad’s Electra stayed". Sify.com. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  28. ^ "Three big releases for Molly fans in coming three weeks". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  29. ^ http://www.giff.co.in/movies/electra.html
  30. ^ http://www.bollywood-festival.de/en/film-programme/programme/film-programme-sunday-24-july-2010/elektra.html
  31. ^ http://www.rivertoriver.it/schede_film2011/Elektra_en.php