I’m doing it! A totally ridiculous extremely specific post for those people who live within the Venn diagram overlap of “Familiar with Malayalam Films” and also “Familiar with the Anne of Green Gables Series”. So, Angie. You better appreciate this Angie!
In an awareness that not everyone in the world is quite this familiar with the Montgomery oeuvre, I will give you little synopsis of the original before I get into my remakes.
First, the original and traditional Anne of Green Gables:
Anne Shirley is a dreamy orphan from a larger town who is sent to live in the country with stern spinster Marilla and her gentle shy brother Mathew. Anne immediately falls in love with the beauty of the countryside, and the happy secure life of a farming town where everyone knows everybody. She and her best friend Diana have lots of misadventures, and she battles with Gilbert Blythe, the handsomest boy in school who has a crush on her but she hates him. Finally, as they prepare to go away to college, Anne and Gilbert make friends. In college, Anne tries to avoid Gilbert’s moves towards romance and keep them just friends. But eventually Gilbert proposes, Anne refuses him and begs him to stay her friend, but he tells her he can’t do that. Anne then starts a relationship with the tall dark and romantic (and very rich) Roy Gardner. Until he proposes, and Anne suddenly realizes that it was just daydreams, she doesn’t actually want to spend her whole life with someone with no sense of humor. Anne goes home for vacation shortly after refusing him, and learns that Gilbert has fallen ill and is near death. Suddenly she realizes she has loved him all along, it just wasn’t the romantic dramatic love she dreamed about, but an everyday kind of love. Once Gilbert recovers, he notices Anne’s changed demeanor towards him and proposes again, and she accepts. And then there are a bunch of books about them getting married and starting a family and so on, but they don’t work as well for a movie.
Well, this works perfectly as a Malayalam movie! That plot is the first 3 books of the series, but the first two books really not much happens, you just get familiar with the town and the people and all. And then the third book, ALL THE DRAMA!!!! (it was always my favorite book). So, perfect for the Malayalam film structure, lots of time to just sort of roam around the village and not do much, and then BOOM!!! DRAMA!!! We even have the surprise sadness with Gilbert’s last minute near death experience.
I think I just have to brush it up a little bit around the edges. Sai Pallavi (I’ve decided I like her as Anne better than Nazriya) arrives and is all wide-eyed and excited. Salim Kumar plays Matthew and meets her at the ferry and is confused to see her getting off, but is too shy to say anything. He takes her home in his bull cart back to their semi-remote farm. Where they are greeted by a surprised and resistant Vinaya Prasad who immediately blurts out that they wanted a boy to help at the farm, not a girl. Pallavi is heartbroken, and Salim Kumar is too. He gently pushes at Vinaya after Pallavi has been sent to bed, and she resists, but once he leaves to go tend to the cattle, Vinaya looks conflicted and is clearly thinking about it. The next day, she makes Pallavi have breakfast and then work in the house and finally breaks the news that she has changed her mind, they might as well keep Pallavi so long as she is already here, all the way from the city orphanage.
(He usually does comic roles, but he was so perfect in Adaminte Makan Abu, and it is the same sort of part, so I want him)
Pallavi is excited to go to school the next day, partly so she can meet and make friends with the girl next door, Shalini Pandey. They meet and immediately become friends. But she also immediately becomes enemies with Nivin Pauly who wants to get her attention and so tugs on her braid and calls her “pimples”, unknowingly hitting a nerve and causing her to raise up and break her slate over his head. From then on, Nivin is obsessed with her and keeps trying to slip her little gifts and make nice, but she proudly ignores him.
Life moves on, Pallavi and Shalini have birthday parties and adventures and Pallavi is constantly writing and dreaming up stories. She and Nivin almost make friends when a game goes wrong and Pallavi is trapped in a sinking boat, and he saves her (I’m picturing a dramatic sequence of him driving in and swimming over and dragging her to shore). But then he tries to be nice and says something about her pimples finally clearing up a little, and she gets mad again.
(Shalini Pandey from Arjun Reddy. She seems like she would be able to play a great adoring and supportive best friend. Which is kind of what she played in Mahanati)
And then in the midst of all this calm idyllic countryside and growing up, while Pallavi is preparing to go away to college and Vinaya is pretending she won’t miss her, and Pallavi is begging to be allowed to have some store made clothes to take with her instead of the homemade stuff Vinaya always puts her in, and Shalini is teasing her about how the only person she will know at college is Nivin and maybe they should make peace, suddenly word arrives that the chit fund Salim Kumar invested in has gone under. Salim has been in his own plot, secretly going to town and talking to a woman in a store who gets him all flustered, and trying to buy new clothes for Pallavi in secret. A thoughtless neighbor tells him the news while he is walking down the road with his package on the way home, and then drives on. Salim walks a few more feet and then stumbles, falling into a ditch. The package falls open and the new clothes he bought for Pallavi sink into the muddy water of the ditch. Back home, Pallavi is fighting with Vinaya, while Shalini helps her pack, everything seems normal, the tension builds as we wait for them to find out, and then finally as they are talking we see in the distance the group of men carrying Salim’s body walking slowly up to the door. And pull back to the outside of the house as we hear Pallavi cry out and see Vinaya crumple and Pallavi catch her. INTERVAL
(Vinaya was wine-aunty in Ohm Shaanthi Oshaana. Put her in traditional sari and pulled back hair, and she could absolutely be a hard working repressed farm woman)
In the second half, we start at the funeral. And hear the buzzing gossip, they almost lost the farm, but Pallavi insisted on the money being set aside for her school going towards the farm, she is giving up college and staying home to help Vinaya, Vinaya took to her bed for days and Pallavi faithfully took care of her. Pallavi looks all white and set in the front row, wearing the dress Salim had bought for her with the mud stain still on it. And after the service, Nivin comes over and asks to speak with her. He pulls her aside and explains that he was going to take the teaching job in town for the next few years and then go to college, but he has decided to go to college now, why doesn’t Pallavi take the job instead? She says no immediately, but Nivin says it is too late, he already turned down the job, she is the only other local who is qualified. So Pallavi reluctantly accepts and says “thank you”. And Nivin smiles and says all he wants in return is that she try to be his friend. Who knows, in a few years they could both find themselves in college after all and it would be good to have a friend there. TIME JUMP. Pallavi is now a confident beautiful young woman with a mature attitude, saying good-bye to her students for the final time and then meeting Nivin as they prepare for college. Shalini is still her best friend, but is married now with a baby, and Pallavi talks to Nivin about how he is the only one she feels like she can talk to sometime, since they study together and are both ambitious. Nivin just smiles but is clearly in love with her.
In college, ALL THE DRAMA happens. The first day, Pallavi is ragged by older students, until Nivin shows up and stops them, surprising Pallavi by revealing himself in his new college avatar as an upperclassman with a beard and a powerful attitude. It seems like maybe she is seeing him in a new light and something might finally start between them, until there is a guest speaker in her class, an attractive and successful young business professional Dulquer. Dulquer pursues her, and Pallavi is flattered. She skips study dates with Nivin, and dresses up for Dulquer while dressing down for Nivin. But there are still warning signs, she lies to Dulquer that she likes English movies and then asks Nivin to help her sneak into the latest Malayalam hit. She buys fancy western made clothes to date Dulquer, but wears her homemade things from Vinaya that she still loves when she is home studying with Nivin. Nivin finally proposes in the middle of an argument over her standing him up again, she asks why he keeps putting up with it if it makes him so angry, and he bursts out “Because I love you!!!!” and then keeps going while she is stunned into silence, about how he has loved her since they were children and he know she may never feel the same way, but he will wait and love her until the day he dies. The next day, Nivin leaves college suddenly, having taken his exams early. Pallavi is bereft, but is sure she is just missing her “friend”, that is all.
(Yes, I gave us bearded college tough Nivin, everyone’s favorite Nivin)
And right after, Dulquer gives her a romantic proposal in an elegant restaurant and she suddenly stops when about to touch the ring and says “I can’t”. Dulquer is furious, he did all of this and he was sure she would say yes, everyone told him she would. Pallavi tries to explain, but just can’t, it is something about wanting to walk on muddy roads and wear saris Vinaya made for her and being happier watching a sunrise over water than she ever would be visiting an art gallery.
Pallavi had just finished her last exam, she switches her ticket to come home on the earlier bus and rides it all night. She surprises Vinaya so much that Vinaya hugs her before stopping herself. She has a wonderful happy day at home, and then that night while walking along the road, the same nosey neighbor (Innocent?) who broke the news to Salim and killed him, casually says something to Pallavi about how she is looking healthy, he guesses the cholera going through campus didn’t get her, just Nivin. Pallavi is shaken and goes inside and demands that Vinaya tell her everything. Vinaya explains that Nivin drank some bad water, the doctors don’t have much hope, he wanted to come and be sick here, but Pallavi was so happy to be home, Vinaya didn’t want to spoil it. Pallavi walks out with out a word and then starts running to town as the happy childhood song plays behind her and she runs by all the landmarks of her happy childhood. Finally she reaches the clinic and stops a moment to brace herself before walking in.
Now, if I wanted to go full on Malayalam:
- She would walk in to find Nivin dead, and learn that he was waiting for her all day while she was enjoying herself, one last time that Nivin waited and she was too late. And then she returns home to Vinaya, to be two old maids together forever.
- The film would end as she walks in, leaving the audience to wonder and argue over what happened.
But I am nicer than that, so I will keep the original ending:
She walks in to find him awake and clearly suddenly recovered, the doctor says something in the background about a miracle, and then Pallavi reaches out to take his hand and smile and all their misunderstandings are resolved and they will be together for ever.
Okay, now you can all yell at me for making Dulquer into boring Roy Gardner.