Babusenan Brothers’ 'Ottayal Paatha' (The Narow Path), which was adjudged the Second Best Film at the 2017 Kerala State Film Awards, is about a youth's difficult relationship with his father with whom he stays. The film portrays the events at their house as young Akhil decides to run away with his girlfriend Nina to Bangalore. He wants to hide this fact from his father, but his planned last day at home didn’t turn out the way he had wished.
The film also won the Silver Gateway, the award for the second best film at the 18th JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and was the only Indian movie selected for the Cairo International Film Festival. Its lead actor Kaladharan won a special jury award of the Kerala government. Directors Santosh Babusenan and Satish Babusenan decode a vital scene from the movie that delicately handles the emotions and explores the character.
Set in slums, the films deals with the difficult relationship between Akhil, played by Sarath Sabha, and his father, played by Kaladharan.
There is some kind of love between them despite all the difficult interactions they have and the film has two levels at which they function, Santosh Babusenan says. “One is at the peripheral level of the father-son interaction, where they are seen fighting each other. There are also stray scenes where they share old memories and have a happy moment. Underneath all these, some unknown unsettled events give rise to all the problems between them. With this film, we have tried to explore why we have difficulties in our lives and the causes of such difficult relationships. This, in fact, is the main theme of the movie,” he says.
Satish asserts that in slums people are usually open with their emotions and that this is only in the periphery. “Deep within, we all are humans and it is the human tendency to hold back or hide the emotions. This is one reason that stops us from leading a happy life,” he says.
In a particular scene, the father collapses due to low blood sugar levels. Akhil rushes to his father and helps him out. He is happy as the father revives, but the latter asks him how much insulin he gave. Father is doubtful about the amount of insulin he was given by his son. Akhil is being accused of trying to kill his father which was not at all in his mind.
The father wouldn’t have meant that but would have said only to hurt his son, Satish notes.
The subsequent scene explains the central character’s behaviour and is central to the narrative. “This scene is where we try to explore the character and his emotions. We also find out the reason behind the troubled relationship. When the scene starts a bone setter (marmani) comes in. While the marmani massages his body, the father explains about the fight he had with his son. This is the first time the father is shown showing some kind of regret in the film. He recalls some events from his son’s childhood. That is when the father is trying to figure out why his son does not love him," Santosh explains.
The scene brings out mild jealousy, how the father feels left out and how he tries to win his son's affection. The scene tries to reason that we have no control over many things we do and they emanate from deep inside. In other words, there are hidden motivations which we are not aware of or can't control.
The director duo lauded actor Kaladharan for his terrific performance. “He is an amazing actor and knows what exactly we want from him. The transition of mood that he portrays was spontaneous,” they say.
Kumaran, Krishnapriya, Neha Mahajan, and Akram Mohammed are also among the cast of 'Ottayal Paatha'.