Episode #31 of Hindi TV Serial Malgudi Days is titled as Chaukidar
It is the story of an old watchman whose duty was to keep an eye on the deep village pond. No Trespassing – No Fishing – is what he needs to take care of.
He does his duties with full honesty and all the genuine efforts he can play into the action at his age. However it is not possible for him to take care of this large pond alone throughout day and night. People from various age groups come to visit the place and even the animals also came wandering around. He had a lot to look after. And yes, as he is alone (We see his stories in the backdrop, where his entire family was diseased in possibly cholera before years, and he is the only survivor) he have to do the routine like cooking food for himself and more.
He started getting sleepless nights and tough days when eventually one by one total 3 people commit suicide by jumping into the pond at various interval. The officials started telling him that he is getting aged!
At one cold night, he heard some sounds and when he tried to oversee what is going on, he found a girl was about to jump into the pond, to commit suicide! He stops her from doing it and then gets into conversation with her. The conversation reveals the background of the girl and her reasons she is planning to commit a suicide. The watchman calms her down and try comfort her by saying that everyone have his/her own tough situations and sad experiences, but one needs to go on with the life. Rather then being stubborn, after conveying the words of wisdom, he left the rest on the wisdom of the girl. Will she commit a suicide? or move on with the life? What were her problems? All these questions are answered in the rest of the episode.
It is a straight forward story based on real situations. At certain age, one started getting low on energy. People around start thinking about him as comparatively useless resource! We like it or not, but this is the reality of the life. Also, there is no one who is living a perfect life. Everyone have his/her own problems to deal with. If everyone start to run away from the realities, how can anyone remain alive?! Also, never expect humble returns of your good gesture always!
The entire episode relies on the – simple yet strong at content – story, and the fantastic acting of Girish Karnad. His acting proves that why he is considered as a genius actor. When he played the role, he was quite young. But he represents all the postures, body language, voice tone and everything that requires to represent an old man, very convincingly. And see him as even older fellow at the end of the episode, he is even more convincing. Also, the costume designer must be appreciated for the authentic stuff he present. See the watchman’s cloths, the get-up of young girls, the wardrobe of a family come to visit the pond (as in small villages, such places serve as the picnic or wandering spots as well); everything is very authentic. Even the location of the pond is chosen very perfectly. And almost every scene have the perfect camera angles.
The dialogs are first rate. They are simple and effective. This episode proves that if there is good content and right attributes (acting, cinematography, background music,…) are weaved properly, you can represent a nice stuff, without spending a lot of money. The wisdom it represents, without being heavy, is the USP of the episode. The tale also explores some of the social situations and problems faced those days.
Our personal verdict: you shouldn’t miss it to see the superb acting and simple tale.
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