With strong recommendations from my Quora answer, and also Margaret of Don’tCalllItBollywood, I watched the Malayalam 1990 classic film Innale [Yesterday] this weekend. It’s available on ErosNow.com.
Margaret promised a cozy movie to watch, and it was. This classic film gem, by director P. Padmarajan came out in 1990. It stars Shobana as the victim of a bus accident in a pouring rain storm. She is found half dead on a river bank by some villagers who steal her bangles and jewelry before they take her to get help.
When she regains consciousness, she has no memory of her past, or even her name. Sarath, the son of her doctor, is the hospital administrator and he calls her Maya for expediency. She is the sole survivor of the accident, and it is presumed her family died in the accident. She recognizes none of the photographs of the dead. They post her picture in the paper, but only get imposters trying to claim her.
Sarath gives her the a guest cottage on his family property and a maid servant, and even sets her up with a teaching job at the local school. And, he’s falling under young Maya’s spell. At one point, Sarath is driving Maya and the Tracy Chapman song For My Lover was playing on the radio of the car. It took me right back to that time in the late 80’s/early 90’s when she was so popular, and the song choice was particularly poignant.
T’d climb a mountain if I had to
And risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you…
….For my lover for my lover
I follow my heart
And leave my head to ponder
Deep in this love
No man can shake
Shobana was absolutely luminous in this film. She was the best actor in the whole film, and I was so impressed with her. I’m very much looking forward to seeing her film Manichitrathazhu now, which also stars my second favorite actor of Innale – Suresh Gopi.
Jayaram as Sarath, the young man who falls for the amnesia victim Maya was fine, and sweet. But after the interval we are introduced to Maya’s husband, returned from the US to try to find her.
Suresh Gopi as Dr. Narendran, Maya/Gauri’s bereft husband, had not very much screen time, but he was exceptionally good and has a deep impact. We see his loneliness and grief, and a glimmer of hope that his wife may have survived the bus crash. Through several flashbacks we see how happy he and his wife were in their brief marriage.
This is what Indian cinema does so well. Set up for the audience these dilemmas. We don’t know who to root for, as our heart is tugged both ways. Maya is blissfully happy with Sarath, but we see how happy she was with Dr. Narendran in her past. Suresh Gopi just broke my heart at the end of the film.
It’s like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai with Shahrukh and Salman in that final wedding scene. So much crying!!
Or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with Aish, Salman and Ajay. Team Ajay all the way!
I loved Innale, scratchy old film print and all. Four stars out of five. Suresh Gopi co-stars with Shobana in Manichitrathazhu , which makes me look forward to it even more.