Shaji N. Karun
Initial DVD release
July 23, 2002
25 December 1999
Pierre Assouline (story), Shaji N. Karun (screenplay), Reghunath Paleri (screenplay), Reghunath Paleri (dialogue)
The Last Dance
Piravi, Vedham Pudhithu, Kamaladalam
Vanaprastham - The Last Dance (English: Pilgrimage) is a 1999 Indian-French-German co-production Malayalam language, drama film directed by Shaji N. Karun. It stars Mohanlal, Suhasini, Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar, Kalamandalam Gopi, and Venmani Haridas. The film's music is composed by Zakir Hussain. The film follows the tale of a lower-caste Kathakali artist Kunhikuttan (Mohanlal) during the 1940s era in Travancore. Subhadra (Suhasini), a member of an aristocratic family, falls in love with the character Arjuna played by Kunhikuttan. She views Kunhikuttan and the character he plays as separate individuals. Their affair eventually leads to the birth of a son, who is hidden away by Subhadra from Kunhikuttan for almost a lifetime.
The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI Fest) in 1999. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. It is considered to be one of Mohanlal's best performances. IBN Live ranked the film #9 in its list of greatest Indian films of all time. The film was screened retrospective, during the 2014 International Film Festival of India in the Celebrating Dance in Indian cinema section.
The story revolves around a male Kathakali dancer Kunhikuttan (Mohanlal), an admirable and respected performer but a member of a lower caste. He struggles to come to terms with the rejection and estrangement of his father, a member of an upper caste who denies his son. Poor, unhappy, and stuck in an arranged marriage that provides no relief, he gets by for the sake of his daughter. One night, whilst performing as Arjuna from the epic Mahabarata on stage, his dance is witnessed by Subhadra (Suhasini), a well-educated member of an upper-caste family. Defying the norms of India's rigid caste system, they have a son, but it soon becomes clear that Subhadra loves the character Arjuna from his stage performances, and not Kunhikuttan the artist. More in love with the valiant, noble hero of the Mahabarata, than the dancer Kunhikuttan, she rejects him and refuses to let him see his son. Denied access to his son, and rejected by his father, Kunhikuttan returns to the stage, leaving behind his hero roles to play demonic characters, reaching within the dark corners of his mind, becoming increasingly resentful and full of anger, until one last dance which brings the feature to a stunning end.
The character KUNHIKUTTAN depicted by Mohanlal in the film is regarded as one of the finest performance by any Indian actor. The film has been nominated for the following awards since its release:
1999 AFI Fest (United States)
1999 Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey)
1999 Bombay International Film Festival (India)
1999 National Film Awards (India)
1999 Kerala State Film Awards
1999 Filmfare Award
First film in India made in Panavision film with dolby stereo.
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