Pookkaalam initially feels like a drama centred around the aged couple, Ittoop (Vijayaraghavan) and Kochuthresiyamma (KPAC Leela). As the screenplay unfolds, one realizes it is primarily an inter-generational tale of the women in the household – their diverse experiences and attitudes towards life.
Here’s presenting the women of Pookkaalam!
Kochuthresiyamma is the emotional pillar of the family – The woman who supported and nurtured her daughters through a challenging phase when her husband wasn’t particularly emotionally available for them. Being a product of the times she was living in, she didn’t staunchly raise her voice against her husband – yet, she went the extra mile to ensure that his waywardness did not adversely affect the family and that he eventually came out of this phase.
The four daughters of Ittoop and Kochuthresiyamma develop into diverse personalities due to the difference in their upbringing (which, in turn, was a result of the family context).
The eldest daughter, played by Sarassa Balussery, is pushed by challenging economic circumstances to become the provider for the family at a young age. She shoulders the responsibility of bringing the household back to shore and, in the process, deprioritizes her marriage and well-being. Eventually, this takes a toll on her, as she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and never really gets to interact soundly with the younger generations that thrive, thanks to her efforts.
The next-in-line Clara, played by Suhasini Maniratnam, is the cerebral one. With her elder sister in place to economically support the house during the torrid time, she finds a leeway to leave the house to pursue her academics. A chance rendezvous with a like-minded partner eventually lands her in the US, and she becomes an acclaimed writer. But the distance makes her an inaccessible and a ‘forgotten’ member to the rest of the family. Ironically, the celebrated children’s author does not, for the longest time, get a chance to narrate her stories to the children of her own joint family.
Rosamma, played by Radha Gomati, is the child who undergoes the most confusing childhood – she is too young to handle home affairs and yet too old to be coddled. The gruesome events of her childhood toughen her, and as both her elder sisters become physically/mentally unavailable, she seamlessly transforms into the staunch matriarch of the family.
Elsamma, played by Ganga Meera, being the youngest of the lot, has few memories of the family’s dark past. She has received immense love and nurturing almost throughout her childhood and hence, is oblivious to the tensions between the sisters and the parents. She is the only one to look back at her past with rose-tinted glasses and is probably the only one who roots for the econciliations within the family as much as the viewer.
The twin sisters comprising the next generation, Dona and Dincy (played by Kavya and Navya), take after their aunt and become enterprising independent women who run a bus business. However, the straits aren’t as dire as they used to be for the previous generation, so they get to invest in their personal lives, finding themselves a pair of male twins to marry and build families with.
Elsy (played by Annu Antony), the last female adult in line, has had the most comfortable life sans hardships. She is an aimless, carefree youth who initially wants to marry a rich, handsome man and chill. But as she learns the stories of the women of her household, she is empowered and motivated to re-evaluate her priorities.
If nothing, Pookkaalam reminds us to stay grounded and make the best of this life because today’s seemingly perfect life might be a result of yesterday’s blood, sweat and tears.