Marmadesam

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Marmadesam
Vidathukaruppu dvd.jpg
DVD cover for Vidathu Karuppu
FormatIndian soap opera
Created byMinbimbangal
Written byIndra Soundar Rajan
Directed byNaga
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Tamil
Production
Producer(s)K. Balachander
Running time30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channelSUN TV, Raj TV
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Original run1997 – 2001
 
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Marmadesam
Vidathukaruppu dvd.jpg
DVD cover for Vidathu Karuppu
FormatIndian soap opera
Created byMinbimbangal
Written byIndra Soundar Rajan
Directed byNaga
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Tamil
Production
Producer(s)K. Balachander
Running time30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channelSUN TV, Raj TV
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Original run1997 – 2001

Marmadesam (Tamil: மர்மதேசம்), meaning "Land of Mystery" in Tamil, is a television series directed by Naga. The series was telecast between 1997 and 2001 and was very successful.

Principal Cast[edit]

Stories[edit]

The television series consisted of successive episodes of short stories dealing with supernatural occurrences. While the stories are purely fictitious, they explore some extant beliefs and real-life traditions.

The main stories are:

Plot[edit]

Ragasiyam[edit]

Ragasiyam is the first of the highly successful Marmadesam series. This story is about the mysteriously healing Navabhashanam Lingams of Lord Shiva.

The plot opens with a small fictional village named Chitharpatti, where a temple of Chitheswarar (also pronounced as Sitheshwarar) attracts a large number of devotees thanks to its legend as well as its purported power to heal any known or unknown disease. An ashram adjacent to the temple, headed by Oomaisaamy (Charuhasan) is also a popular name, as it cures literally any physically or mentally ill patient.

The temple is closed from 6 pm every evening until 6 am the following morning. It is believed that Siddhas enter the temple past its closure for the day, and perform their rituals and prayers and leave before dawn, and anyone who disturbs the prayers of the Siddhas is done away with by the guardian of the temple, Kaalabhairavar, who is believed to guard the temple during the night in the form of a dog. This belief attracts a number of rationalists to the temple, who want to try and solve the mystery. One such rationalist, a journalist names Srikanth (Indra Soundar Rajan), hides in the temple when it is being closed for the day, in an attempt to find out what really happens in the temple in the dark. However, as if the villagers' fear is made true, Srikanth is killed by a dog while he is inside the temple. Hence, the entire village is convinced that the temple of Chitheshwarar is actually a den of heavenly Siddhas who pray during the night, leaving ordinary people to pray during the day.

Srikanth's friend, Mani Sundaram (Ramji) is the young son of the temple's chief priest. He is a rationalist, who does not believe in myths and rituals. Instead, he chooses to rationalize his beliefs, and hence often ends up at odds with his father with regard to the temple's mysteries and rituals. One by one, four people are killed inside the temple, including a police inspector who is there to investigate the mystery. At this juncture, Dr. KR (Delhi Ganesh)—once a great psychiatrist, but now mentally retarded—strays into the village, and is admitted to Oomaisaamy's ashram by Mani. Prasad (Prithviraj), Dr. KR's son, comes in search of him, and ends up being a guest to Mani and his sister Lalitha (Vasuki). As Mani and Prasad try to reveal the temple's mystery even more, they come to know that Dr. KR is actually acting as a retard, and he too is trying to do the same. But Dr. KR has personal intentions. He had been regarded as one of the best psychiatrists of India, and an Indian Central Minister admits his mentally retarded son to his hospital for treatment. But Dr. KR is unable to cure the Minister's son even after giving his best for the patient. Enraged by this, the Minister ridicules Dr. KR and moves his son away to Oomaisaamy's ashram after hearing other people speak so highly about it. Dr. KR feels insulted and decides to find out how Oomaisaamy is able to cure patients so effortlessly in his ashram. To achieve this, he makes everyone believe he is retarded, and lands up in Oomaisaamy's ashram. What Dr. KR does not know, is that he was unable to cure the Minister's son not because of his incompetency, but because of a sinister scheme laid out by his junior, Dr. Vishwaram (Mohan V. Ram).

As Dr. KR acts as a retard and tries to uncover Chitharpatti's mystery, he stumbles upon a greater truth about what might be going on inside the temple during the dark. Dr. KR and Mani then decide to work together to find out the truth. Mani finds out that there are actually one or more persons entering the temple at night through a secret entrance to the temple, and exiting at dawn. In an attempt to find out what they are actually doing inside the temple, Mani hides in the temple one night. He finds out that the two men enter the temple with trained dogs searching for Navabhashana lingams, of which, he learns, they have six already and are trying to locate the remaining three. Mani finds out that these dogs were the ones that killed the four, and it was just the work of thugs and not God, as the villagers believe. Also, the two men seem to get instructions from someone inside the village, who knows and is capitalizing on the superstitious nature of the villagers.

Mani is found hiding by these men, and a chase ensues where Mani, fighting for his life, kills the dogs, and forces the two men to leave the temple as stealthily as they arrived, and set the ball rolling for a police probe. Vaithiyar (Kavithalaya Krishnan), Mani's best friend in the village, turns out to be the man behind these killings inside the temple. As he is about to get caught, he escapes with the lingams he had already stolen, and sets off to Chennai with an accomplice. However, on the way, the accomplice is killed by a Truck, which also chases Vaithiyar, but only manages to send him into a coma. The box containing the lingams is lost in the van Vaithiyar was driving, and finds its way to Chennai.

The rest of the story is a nail-biting chase for these lingams. In various stages of the plot, the significance of these lingams, values of ancient Hindu scriptures are brought out, which makes the viewer intrigued until the last scene.

Vidaathu Karuppu[edit]

Vidaathu Karuppu is the second and most successful of the Marmadesam series. The story examines the psychological underpinnings of the concept of split personalities even while exploring in detail the rural cult of Karuppu Sami prevalent in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. Starring Chetan, Devadarshini, Master Lokesh, Mohan V. Ram, Poovilangu Mohan, Ponvannan, Muthusubramanian and Sivakavitha, the series was a huge commercial success and triggered imitations and supernatural thrillers by other television directors.

Each episode was made of two parts—the first ten minutes of each 30-minute episode was set in the year 1977; the second part of each episode was set in 1997 and related to the events shown in the first part. While the first part revolved around the events of the Anaimudi Alampriyar household as seen through the eyes of the young Rajendran (played by Master Lokesh), the second part was mainly concerned with the customs, beliefs and traditions of the village and events unfolding in the Anaimudi Alampriyar household as seen through the eyes of the skeptical medical student Reena (Devadarshini) and her superstitious mentor (Mohan V. Ram). The story begins with Reena's arrival in the village in the company of her colleague, Ratna, daughter of the village headman, Anaimudi Alampriyar, who seeks sanction from her village's guardian deity Karuppu Sami to marry her lover Arvind.

In Ratna's village, Reena and her boss learn about the cult of Karuppu Sami, the guardian deity and how Karuppu Sami punishes people who transgress his rules. While Reena's boss instantly believes in the legend, Reena, herself is skeptical about it. Eventually, they witness some mysterious and gruesome deaths. Simultaneously, the story of the Anaimudi Naicker's mother, the evil moneylender Pechi who indulges in usury is told in flashback through the eyes of Naicker's son and Ratna's older brother, the extremely soft and timid Rajendran who is obsessed with legends of Karuppu Sami. Pechi murders one of her opponents and is eventually killed herself, the first in a string of mysterious deaths attributed to Karuppu Sami. A few days later, strange events and sightings take place in the Anaimudi Naicker household, prompting Anaimudi Naicker's family to conclude that the house id haunted by Pechi's ghost and move out.

Reena, anxious to know the identity of Karuppu Sami, investigates the murders and discovers that the haunting was a sham perpetuated by the village schoolteacher (played by Poovilangu Mohan) who held a grudge against the Alampriyar's family and orchestrated the haunting to drive them out of the house. But the schoolteacher vehemently denies that he had anything to do with the mysterious murders. Reena, then suspects the priest of the Karuppu Sami shrine in the village who frequently enters a state of trance during which he is possessed by Karuppu Sami and pronounces judgement. But Reena discovers that though the priest is genuinely possessed by the spirit of Karuppu Sami on occasion, he was not the killer. In her investigations, Reena is assisted by Rajendran who acts as her guide. Rajendran gradually falls in love with Reena who, though in love with Rajendran, pretends not to be.

Eventually, Rajendran proposes to Reena who rebuffs him questioning his masculinity. Shamed, Rajendran rapes Reena. The next morning, the spirit of Karuppu Sami enters the body of the priest and condemns Rajendran to death on an appointed day. On the day, Rajendran stabs himself to death in full view of a gathered assembly of villagers leading its inhabitants to believe that the killing was actually committed by the spirit of Karuppu Sami who had entered Rajendran's body. Reena dismisses such beliefs as mere superstition and claims that the introvert Rajendran, exposed to legends of Karuppu Sami right from his childhood, had actually developed a split personality imagining himself to be Karuppu Sami.

Edhuvum Nadakkum (Anything can happen)[edit]

Edhuvum Nadakkum explores the legend of Kalpavriksham and environment as a living entity. Thanumalayakkudi is a small tribal settlement in a jungle in the interior of South India. Strict inter-clan codes and beliefs bind the members of the tribe. They do not accept money in exchange for their produce of chiefly honey and fruits; they are ready to barter them. In this tribal settlement, there exists a myth that the Kalpavriksham, the celestial tree that can grant any wish and desire of the person standing underneath it, is there somewhere in the forest. Strangers to the area who go in search of this tree are lost in the forest. To this forest come Sivagurunathan, a divisional forest officer and his brother Natarajan, a wildlife filmmaker and a visiting lecturer of the film and TV institute. Witnesses to the miracles and mysteries of the forest, they are lost in the jungle in pursuit of the Kalpavriksham. It is believed that they are killed in the pursuit of this sacred tree. Siddharth, a student of Natarajan and an aspiring filmmaker, comes to the settlement along with Varsha a sound recordist to make a film on the forest and its wildlife. As the duo learn about the mysteries of the place, they smell something fishy in the alleged deaths of Sivagurunathan and Natarajan.

Popularity[edit]

Marmadesam was an extremely successful tele-serial. It was ranked first in viewership among the television programmes telecast from Chennai in 1998.[1]

Merchandise[edit]

DVD[edit]

The first part of the serial, Ragasiyam, was released on DVD as a 5-disc region-free set in 2011 by Swathi Soft Solutions, Chennai.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Amos Owen Thomas (2005). Imagi-nations and borderless television: media, culture and politics across Asia. SAGE. p. 115. ISBN 0761933956, ISBN 978-0-7619-3395-3.