Girish Kasaravalli’s film ‘‘Can Neither Stay Here, Nor Journey Beyond’’ depicts how archaic societal norms render human existence miserable !!!!
Kannada Film ‘‘Illiralare Allige Hogalare’’ directed by Girish Kasaravalli. A review by film critic Lalit Rao (FIPRESCI) dated 04.02.2021
Childhood is the most important stage in a human being’s life. It is an age where one is relatively free from worries. This is the reason why most human beings feel nostalgic about their childhood when they reach adulthood. However, there are also some unfortunate children who wouldn’t feel nostalgic about their childhood due to the humiliation they have suffered in the early years of their lives. Apart from the childhood, adulthood is also a key stage in a human being’s life as it is at this stage many people get hitched. It is also important to note that when a person gets married, both the husband and the wife have expectations from each other. In the Indian context especially in rural parts, the life of a married woman might become miserable if she is forced due to circumstances to live with her in-laws in the absence of her husband.
‘Illiralare Allige Hogalare’ (”Can Neither Stay Here, Nor Journey Beyond) chronicles the childhood of one such child, ‘Naga’ whose childhood is affected by caste system, discrimination and poverty. This film also has as its protagonist ‘Seeta’’, a young impaired married woman whose life has been rendered miserable as she has to carry out mundane existence with her mother-in-law and father-in-law. 1969 was an important year for the entire world as it was in that year American astronaut Neil Armstrong landed on moon. Many of us remember it as an event which heralded the advancement of science and boosted America’s importance as a global superpower. The moon landing remains important till date as it taught the world ‘to dream’ but the inhabitants of a village in Malenadu region in Karnataka, India were not so lucky as the caste system was still prevalent, poor people were forced to eke out a miserable existence and women didn’t enjoy freedom. It was also a time when the entire Indian subcontinent was witnessing a massive rural to urban migration. All these events have been brilliantly helmed by Mr. Kasaravalli in this film.
While watching ‘‘Illiralare Allige Hogalare’’, in many ways, a sense of déjà vu would be instilled in the minds of astute viewers when they get an opportunity to watch this film. The sacred lives of Brahmins, miserable existence of women, lush green surroundings of coastal Karnataka are some of the regular features often seen in Mr. Kasarvalli’s films. Apart from ‘Naga’ and Sita, there is also a benign character, a school master who helps both Naga and Sita. He wants Naga to succeed in life as he tells him to travel beyond the confines of the small village in order to receive higher education. His personality as a ‘good Samaritan’ has an important bearing on the film’s title in English ‘‘Can neither stay here nor journey beyond’’. All three characters of Mr. Kasaravalli are stuck in the small village and it is very difficult for them to move out of their infelicitous existence.
For making ‘Illiralare Allige Hogalare’, Mr.Kasaravalli chose a famous short story ‘‘Haalina Meese’’ written by Jayanth Kaikini, a renowned intellectual as well as a literary personality who as a lyricist has written many famous songs for popular Kannada films. Both artists have expressed satisfaction regarding their collaboration and on many occasions, Mr. Kasaravalli has stated that he has added a few elements on his own to Mr. Kaikini’s short story in order to make his film appear more authentic.
Watching this film, one would easily be able to discern how optimism runs high throughout the film. Both Naga and the school master devise ways to get out of their deplorable lives. There is also sadness in their lives but the tone is not too gloomy. Lastly, ‘happiness’ is something which everyone seeks in life. However, there are times when one needs to sacrifice one’s own happiness in favor of another person’s happiness if it appears to be more important. This is one key message which a viewer can take from this film. However, if one were to propose a strong reason to watch this film then the sheer beauty of the locales would definitely be that reason !!
‘‘Illiralare Allige Hogalare’’ [”Can Neither Stay Here, Nor Journey Beyond]
Dialogue, Screenplay & Direction : Girish Kasaravalli.
Producer : S.V.Shiva Kumar.
Cast: Malatesh, Drushya Kodagu, Aradhya Krishnaprasad, Pavithra
Cinematography : H.M.Ramachandra Halkere.
Music : S.R. Ramakrishna.
Editing : S.Gunasekharan.