Adakkam not only moves you to tears, it also wakes you up to some uncomfortable issues
Photo: K. Ananthan
A dignified burial Of unclaimed bodies
One can’t help but remember the film song Veedu varai uravu, veedhivarai manaivi, kaadu varai pillai, kadaisi varai yaaro, as one watches the short film Adakkam (Burial).
In a society that is consumed by a relentless pursuit of wealth; where children have settled down overseas, leaving behind aged parents, where there are any number of homeless people, the problem of performing the last rites is very real.
The last rites
Those who have families can hope for a decent mourning and dignified funeral, but, what of those who have nobody to do that. Pavement dwellers, accident victims, unidentified bodies — who takes care of their funeral?
In the absence of a system, the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) mortuary was turning out to be a storehouse of unclaimed bodies. Till, Thozhar, a five-member organisation, stepped up. When no one turns up to claim the bodies, even after the police have publicised the details, Thozhar, after ensuring all legal procedures have been adhered to, takes up the responsibility of performing the last rites. And, Adakkam is all about that.
It is a short film made by Mathi Ananth that documents the work of Thozhar. It has been made under the aegis of Kalam, a forum for short films.
The film is co-ordinated by Mohammed Ameen, Fini Oommen and Arun K George. Edited by Ponkumar and Pramod, it moves from frame to frame effortlessly. The cinematography by S. Aravind Kumar is so good that it eliminated the need for any sub-titles or dialogues.
The documentary is moving. One scene shows the mentally unstable, lepers and beggars lying uncared for on the streets and then the scene shifts to the CMCH mortuary where dead bodies lie in heaps amid flies, unclaimed and unacknowledged. Then, the camera walks you through what happens in the last journey of a human being. A group of five youngsters on their motorcycles buy garlands and a white shroud, and head to the CMCH where they enter the mortuary and come out with the unclaimed bodies.
Right from wrapping the bodies in shrouds and spraying phenyl to drive away the flies and foul smell, Thozhar does it all.
They take five bodies on their last journey in two ambulances to a burial ground.
Not a word is spoken, only the music and visuals convey the message. Thozhar is made up of Shanthakumar, Ibrahim, Jeevanantham, Annadurai and Sampathkumar. They have so far performed the last rites for 240 unclaimed bodies.
Now, breaking shackles, conventions and taboos, even women have joined hands with them. They are Latha, Pushpavalli, Vidya and Sangeetha. What was the reason Thozhar came into being? “When even animals have the Blue Cross and a society for the prevention of cruelty to them, human beings definitely deserve a better treatment for their last journey. And, this thought led to the birth of Thozhar,” says Shanthakumar. The documentary poignantly captures the selfless efforts of these young humanitarians who care for those who have been forsaken, even in death. For details call: 98422 67700
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