|Kondura (Anugraham in Telugu)|
|Directed by||Shyam Benegal|
|Written by||Khanolkar C.T. (novel)
Shyam Benegal & Girish Karnad (Screen Adaptation)
|Music by||Vanraj Bhatia|
|Running time||137 min|
Kondura (English title: The Boon; Telugu title: Anugraham) is 1978 Hindi/Telugu film by noted film director Shyam Benegal, based on the novel by Marathi writer, Khanolkar Chintamani T. (Aarti Prabhu) by the same name, the screen adaptation was by Shyam Benegal and Girish Karnad.
Kondura was a very brilliant novel written in Marathi by the prolific Marathi novelist, writer and playwright Mr. Chintamani T. Khanolkar (poetry under pen name Aarti Prabhu), who died before Shyam Benegal made the film. Benegal took the rights from him, and wanted to make it in Marathi. But found that he just couldn't get funding to make a film in Marathi, because the Marathi cinema audience had really shrunk. So he decided to change the old story from the west coast of India to the east coast. When he did that, he was able to do it in Telugu; which he did, and was able to find a Telugu producer quite easily. The film was also made in Hindi which was never released.
The films the life of a young man who comes to believe that he has been bestowed supernatural powers. As the story unfolds, this boon eventually leads to a tragedy.
Kondura is a story whose protagonist is a young Brahmin named Parshuram. He is married to Ansooya but is dependent partly on his brother for living. This makes the elder brother chide him often and that drives him away from home. However, as he is leaving "Kondura", the mythical sage from the sea appears and anoints him the guardian of village, to cure it of all sins. The sage also grants him a physical-boon, which is a dried herb. The boon works if he remains celibate. Prashuram returns home to celibacy. Often, the goddess of the village, grants him appearance in person, speaking to him through his wife (a phenomenon still seen in Indian villages, where a person is believed to have sudden visitation by God or Goddess, who speaks to people through the person).
The goddess instructs him to get the village rid of evils, which he interprets as rebuilding the parts of the temple. For this, he enlists financial support from the village landlord who is otherwise a tyrant and womaniser. It is known that Bhairavmoorthy takes in any woman in the village who catches his eye, including his younger brother's wife, both of whom die leaving behind a physically challenged son Venu to an otherwise hierless fiefdom. It is rumored that Venu is his son but Bhairavmoorthy maltreats him all the time. He marries him off to young and beautiful Parvati, who comes from a very poor family. Bhairavmoorthy is said to be eyeing Parvati too, but Parvati is stronger than rest of the women in the family and challenges his might at occasions.
Meanwhile, as the news of Kondura's boon and visitations by the Goddess coupled with constructions at the temple spreads, Parshuram becomes a revered Guru with a decent following of his own in the village. Followers see him as a counselor and a person with charisma.
There are celebrations at the landlord's house. Parvati is expecting a child. Landlord's wife Kanthama is busy doing all ceremonies. The gossip in the village is that the baby belongs to Bhairavmoorthy. The Goddess makes a visitation to Pashuram through Ansooya. This time he interprets that the Goddess is telling him to abort the baby, as it is at the root of propagation of evil. Totally possessed and egged by the landlord, who also makes him believe that the baby is his, Parshuram makes Parvati drink Kondura's herb that aborts the baby.
Once the sin is committed, the landlord makes the revelation that how he conned Parshuram into believing that the baby was his, which in reality was his nephew’s, and that he could not bear the thought that his crippled nephew sires one and not him.
Gripped with immense guilt, Parshuram takes a radical path of atonement. He tries to invoke the Goddess by praying to his wife, Ansooya; but, when that effort fails, he decides to repent for his sin by forsaking his celibacy. While Ansooya resists the temptation, Parshurama forces her to succumb to it. Shocked by the action and her loss of purity, Ansooya commits suicide by jumping in a dry well. Parshooram wakes up searching for Ansooya and upon finding her dead body, he runs widely screaming her name.
All through, the narrative there is one character in the village, Ramanayye Master, the village teacher, who does not believe in Parshuram's divinity. In fact, he is often seen scolding the Guru. The last shot of the film shows him nodding helplessly. It is perhaps, the scriptwriter’s attempt at making a statement on the rot of superstition and blind faith.