About the Film
Director: Satish Menon
Malayalam with English subtitles.
111 mins. 35mm.
BHAVUM captures the struggle of consciousness of a young urban couple upon the arrival of the wife’s mysterious sister. Their struggle, seeking to reconcile their desires with various realities and truths, results in the gradual deterioration of their relationship. Their evolving relationship plays out as a metaphor for a society that is growing apart intellectually and emotionally in an environment where the effects of globalization – mainly manifesting in avid consumerism - and the influence of media as a tool for proliferating propaganda have taken root. This irreconcilable wedge precipitates in the gradual disintegration of relationships inevitably resulting in degradation and chaos.
JOY, a journalist, and his wife, LATA, a college lecturer, live with KOCHAMMA (Joy’s aunt) and MATTHEW (her middle-aged bachelor son) amid the tranquil surroundings of a coastal village. Lata teaches Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment to a series of lackadaisical, intellectually bankrupt students, determined to educate and impress upon them the struggle of consciousness and its impact on their day to day lives. Joy, in contrast, no longer values the honest exercise of his profession for the purpose of disseminating news or truth; easily swayed by a culture of want and desires prevalent around him. However, his priority at home is the happiness of his wife, to whom he's passionately devoted to. Into this equation, Lata's older sister, SUBADRA, arrives for an unexpected visit.
Subadra has apparently lived a life of upper-class culture and urban sophistication. However, Subadra’s life has been marred with tragedies – the loss of both her husband and her home in a seemingly accidental fire. Lata, overwhelmed by her desire to get reacquainted with her sister, invites her to stay with them through the duration of the pregnancy. As they move into their new house in the city, she accommodates her sister’s whim within her nuclear setup. Soon, it becomes obvious that Subadra’s harboring a secret, with no place to go but to her sister with whom she has not maintained a relationship in over eight years.
At first, Joy goes along with his wife’s desire to incorporate Subadra into their life, but later regrets his choice when he finds himself in conflict with his carnal desire for Subadra, coupled with the illusion of having to compete with her for his wife’s affections.
Meanwhile, professionally, Joy is unconsciously tempted into a Faustian bargain to defend the role of private corporations to manage and operate public utilities in the state. Despite Lata’s disappointment and dissent, he uses his newspaper in manufacturing a need, facilitating a debate and inevitably achieving consent through a corrupt political process. In return, he is assured a steady job and an income that elevates his life to adhere to the images of excess around him. The resulting intellectual and lifestyle divide between the couple leads to a slow withering emotional wedge.
Bhavum explores the deterioration of this relationship as they face the truth about Subadra, the manifestation of Joy’s guilt that overwhelms him personally and professionally, and the subsequent fallout that precipitates in the gradual disintegration of the marriage inevitably resulting in degradation and chaos.