Sigmund Freud interpreted dreams and even wrote a pioneering book on the topic. Had he been around the time when Padmarajan was breaking path in Malayalam Cinema, he would have ended up a fan of the filmmaker just for the way in which he depicted dream sequences in his films.Almost three decades back, at a time when the term CGI was still unheard of in Indian Cinema, Padmarajan used some basic visuals and music to create a surreal experience for his viewers that resonated with the nightmares and dreams they must have had at some point in their lives.
This is a mashup of scenes from two of his movies, where the characters have nightmares after some truly traumatic experiences.The first is from Moonampakkam where Thilakan plays a grandfather who is mourning the loss of his grandson who has drowned in the sea and is waiting for the body to be recovered.Padmarajan creates an atmosphere thats almost palpable to the viewer with some haunting images which are right out of a dream that you yourself had on one of those bad nights in bed.The most striking image is that of the actor walking down the desolated beach and being startled by a coconut tree that has bent out of shape.Its a visual that you would immediately relate with for some inexplicable reason.
Padmarajan did this again in his film Innale, about a woman who is recovering from an accident and is suffering from retrograde amnesia.Shobhana plays the character here and she has a nightmare on the hospital bed and which reflects her predicament.This sequence would rank behind the one from Moonampakkam to me because its more direct in terms of the visual analogy but it is no less haunting in terms of effect.Padmarjan has used music to great effect in both of these scenes too.
To me these scenes are awe inspiring because this is exactly how a dream or a nightmare would look like in real life .Yes, the images you see have a meaning and a reason always as Freud has sweared by all his life.The only time i have seen a filmmaker come close to beating this is when Nokan took on dreams in Inception.
The detailing and thought that have gone into these scenes are what sets Padmarajan apart as a filmmaker who had a direct line not just to the hearts but to the minds of his audience too.