Karutha Joothan movie review: Throwing light on the dark truths of Jews in Kerala

The story of Avaroni, played by Salim Kumar, seems tragic.

Cast: Salim, Ramesh Pisharody, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Usha, Subheesh Sudhi
Director: Salim Kumar

With its documentary-like beginning, Karutha Joothan looks and sounds laboured initially. But one’s patience is rewarded as the movie turns into something bigger. After all, this is a movie that won the state award for the best story. A woman of Jewish origin, who had come for the first day, first show of the Salim Kumar-starrer, vouched for the movie being the story of her people. Her father's family is among the few Jewish ones that converted to Christianity or are living quietly in India, with no plans to go to Israel.

Initially, the story of Avaroni, played by Salim Kumar, seems tragic. As the 'black Jew', rendered homeless by land grabbers, wades across the screen, mostly shot under grey skies, one decides it is a sad story. There are soulful aerial shots now and then, in which men move about like ants. There is a brooding sorrow in the music as well.

All this changes when it strikes the viewer that every Jew is in essence a nomad. It suddenly seems as though Avaroni's life could not have been any other way. As if this larger truth is more responsible for his fate, than the people who wronged him. Our prized viewer concurs by saying there are Jews in Kerala who are still waiting for justice, land rights and dignity, like most others living on the margins.

B.R. Bijuram has purposely kept the music in Karutha Joothan minimalist. The title song rendered by Rashmi Madhu is an authentic one sung by Jewish women during their work.

Though the turnout was shockingly small on the first day, it would be good to not miss the movie while it’s still running in theatres. Especially because Avaroni represents the dwindling population of Jews in Kerala.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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