CHAPTER 12: SANYASA
Cut to Tanjore. Saket’s house. Saket is sleeping on his bed as Mythili wakes up. She has evidently moved closer to Saket as she kisses him as he sleeps. However, Saket is just pretending to be asleep as he does not want to reciprocate (after his definite venturing into Vanaprastha) nor does he want to stop her (not to disrupt her beliefs).
A car arrives at the house as Mythili’s parent alight out of it. As Saket enter the house at the same time, he is surprised to see her in-laws, but manages to not look out of place. He does not know the reason for their arrival. As they all move in, Mythili’s mother asks her why had she not told Saket about their arrival. Mythili replies that Saket had become more of a saint after returning from Bombay, both physically and mentally. This reference of a saint will become vital in a few scenes from now.
Cut to Saket’s private study. Saket is modifying his pistol and ammo using gun making manuals and the required instruments. His walls are decorated with pictures that conform to his ideology. A vampire-like demonized Gandhi and a political map of India renamed by Saket as “Gandhi’s itinerary”. We once again see the “Mechanical Rama” wielding the welding flame and sporting the dark welding glasses, modifying his new love – his rifle.
He hears some chants from outside the house and checks out what it is. He sees a group of Krishna devotees in procession chanting verses. He realizes that dawn has broken. Again the emphasis on the religious conservativeness of the people of the south (especially towards the peaceful Young Krishna) is shown. Saket packs up and switches off the lights.
It is morning and Saket is sitting on his table reading Ananda Vikatan, the local magazine. The servant comes in carrying a telegram. Saket never expects to be his and is shocked to see what it reads.
“Abhyankar died yesterday painlessly. Gandhiji in Delhi for the whole month. To do or die. Please go ahead and help him Vande Mataram.”
One of the two Rams selected for the mission has passed away. It is up to Saket Ram to complete the mission and the prophecy. Amazed to see the telegram, he hides it in the magazine as the family enters singing divine verses of Young Krishna. He receives a bigger shock as they reveal that Mythili is pregnant. He is speechless as uncle Bhashyam asks Saket to get the elders’ blessings. They play M. S. Subbalakshmi’s record (about Young Krishna yet again, signifying the birth of the new child) on the gramophone as Saket quietly moves away from the room. He does not return Mythili’s smile, thus clearly unhappy about the situation. He goes upstairs with a heavy heart. As he gets away from the view of everyone, he leans on the wall as a gesture of helplessness. This shot is immediately followed by the shot of Mythili watching him and looking down. She is disappointed yet again by Saket’s indifference towards her. Saket’s guilt doubles now as he not only betrays Mythili’s trust but also his to-be-born child’s.
The deepest sequence in the film occurs now. He looks at the two pictures hung on his bedroom wall, the pictures of his two “mothers” – His actual mother who he has not seen, a map of his motherland, India, before partition. He caresses them both, one after another.
This single shot takes up numerous meanings by itself. One of them is that Saket’s child is not going to see his father after birth in the same way Saket could not see his mother. Saket is frustrated as his disappearance is going to be deliberate as opposed to the natural death of his mother. Also, Saket’s child will not be able to see its true motherland when it is born. As Saket mentions in the “smile conversation”, he had seen his mother just in the photograph and not in reality, Saket’s child, too, will be seeing its “mother (land)” only on a map and not in reality. It is going to be a different country altogether. Also, simply the equal positioning of the two photos signifies Saket being torn apart by the question of “home vs. the country”. He knows that both are like his two eyes. He is going to be sacrificing his home for his ideology and the country. He is shattered that he is going to blind one of his eyes.
Saket’s hears some voice from downstairs, from aunt Vasantha’s room. Surprised, he opens the ventilator to check it out. To his shock, it is his uncle, Jegannatha Iyengar, aunt Vasantha’s husband who has been paralyzed for 7 years, who is calling out some indiscernible words (possibly “Mahabahu” (Vishnu’s name meaning one with long arms), suggesting that Vishnu is calling him with arms wide open). Surprised, he rushes to the room and tries to talk to him. Aunt Vasantha is sound asleep. He notices his uncle senseless. He checks for pulse and finds that his uncle has passed away after years of torment. He had spoken his last words to Saket. We know from the “smile conversation” that aunt Vasantha is like his mother. So that automatically makes his uncle equivalent to his father. Interestingly, Rama’s father, Dasharatha, went into a state of mental paralysis after his son was sent into exile as per the wishes of his wife Kaikeyi. He died some time after Rama left the house.
Saket turns back and sees his “mother” asleep. He sees her toe ring. He is shattered that she is blissfully sleeping without knowing that the toe rings have lost their meaning. He touches it gently. He cries, not for his aunt, but for Mythili who is years younger than her, but is going to end up in the same situation. She, too, is going to lose her husband and lose the meaning of the toe rings. The image of his aunt’s feet fading from light is cut with the image of Mythili’s feet who, too, is sleeping blissfully without the knowledge that she would have lose her husband soon. She is now compared to Saket’s “mother Vasantha” for her caring nature towards Saket and her plight.
He touches for one last time, without waking her up. He packs his materials and leaves the house on a bicycle. He writes a letter to Mythili informing about his exit and deposits it in the post box.
Cut to Varanasi. Saket moves into the pond with a few holy men. He cuts his hair suggesting his leaving behind of all his familial relations. He cleans himself in the water and cleanses him of all the worldly deeds. He has decided to become a Sanyasi. This is in resonance with Mythili’s talk with her mother as she enters the house. Mythili mentions Saket transforming into a near-saint, which becomes completely true now.
This image of Saket submerging himself in water is cross cut with a tear drop falling from Mythili’s eyes on the photograph of Saket’s mother, indicating again that the child has lost his father even before it is born. Also, she is now compared to Saket’s original mother in addition to her comparison with Saket’s other mother, Vasantha.
As the rest of the family cries upon the loss, Mythili’s mother continues reading the letter wherein Saket pours out his guilt and apologizes to Mythili for being such a curse in his life in spite of her being very caring towards him. We see him breaking his Upanayanam, breaking off his worldly ties.
The letter continues as every one continues to cry. It reads:
“The reasons for my actions will be known shortly to you. For the service I plan to do for our nation, my relatives and friends may be in my way. May the shadows of my failings never touch our child. I pray that our child is born with your virtues. I’ve never seen my mother. Aunt Vasantha was like a mother to me. And now you too. Your parents are going to curse me. Their anger is justified. Now I belong to no one. Loveless: Saket Ram”
The comparison of Mythili to his mother(s) now becomes explicit through the letter. At the end of the letter, aunt Vasantha collapses. It is learned later that she passes away, signaling the severance of Saket’s bond with his last familial mother. He has only one mother now – his country. This sequence explicitly portrays Saket’s venture into Sanyasa, the final stage of a Hindu’s life eschewing all worldly ties, from his tormenting period of self-exile, Vanaprastha.
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