Dir: Jayaraaj. India. 2000. 77mins.
Prod co/Int'l sales: Harvest Films, (tel: 0091 44 600034). Prod: Jayaraaj. Scr: Madambu. DoP: M.J.Radhakrishan. Ed: Sreekar Prasad. Music: Sunny Stephen. Leading players: Vavchan, Eliyamma, Biju Menon.
Emigrants from the underdeveloped world invariably try to send money home to their less fortunate families. That is specially true of those in the beautiful Southern state of Kerala, where many work in the Gulf and where the director of Pathos was born. But his atmospheric and moving film tells a different story - that of a Keralan family who have made a success of their life in North America but are reluctant either to visit their grandparents or even to help them.
The situation is seen through the eyes of the old couple, waiting for their children and grandchildren to return. When they finally announce that they are arriving, a Mass is said - there is a large Catholic population in Kerala - the house is cleaned, special dishes are prepared and swings are put up in the garden for the children. But, offered a free trip to Niagara Falls instead, the family decide to cancel their trip. Instead, they send a message that their grandparents house is to be sold and the couple are to be put in a home.
Jayaraaj's film watches the old couple with a sympathetic but unsentimental eye. The old man is coming to the end of his days and his wife tends him lovingly, while the camera looks at each corner of the simple house they have known all their lives. The tragedy of their gradual loss first of hope and then identity is played out against a background that makes it all the more affecting. You feel that time has stood still here for centuries.
The performances of the old couple, given little dialogue, are touching and this quiet, still film is a worthy successor to Jayaraaj's more extrovert Play Of The Gods, a South Indian version of Othello.