How 'Amen' celebrated local tastes and flavours of Kuttanad

How Amen celebrated local tastes and flavours of Kuttanad
The dining table at Shoshanna's house is always filled with delicious delicacies made by the women in the family. Photo: Screengrab
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Blockbuster movie 'Amen' directed by award-winning film-maker Lijo Jose Pellissery celebrated the music, people, love and also the cuisine of a beautiful hamlet called Kumarankary, on the banks of the Vembanadu Lake. The movie begins with a packet being delivered by a man to his nemesis's house, hinting that it contained a freshly caught fish which could be cooked with Malabar tamarind. However, the prank doesn't go down well with the family and the movie unfolds the tale of Kumarankary and its unique people.

The movie, which has elements of magical realism in it, shows a delightful dream sequence, where the protagonist's (Solomon) dead father appears along with two angels. In the scene, one of the angels even offers Solomon a glass of hot black tea flavoured with palm jaggery, to shake him up not only from his sleepiness but also from his lethargic attitude towards life.

The romance between Solomon and Shoshanna is as sweet as the 'pesaha' appam (steamed dish made of rice, coconut, and cumin to mark the Monty Thursday). It is the special 'pesaha appam' that she holds when the two lovers steal glances at each other while riding a boat. Later, she offers this appam to Solomon when the duo meets at the church ground. Solomon, who is angry at Shoshanna over a wedding proposal that came for her, however, throws the appam away. The appam, interestingly, lands on the lap of Chachappan who was sitting at the cemetery and praying. Chachappan, amused by the appam that was dropped on his lap out of nowhere, sees it as a good omen.

When the young clergyman Fr Vincent Vattoli, played amazingly by Indrajith, reaches the rectory to meet the parish head Fr Abraham Ottaplakkan, the latter is dining along with his assistant who is a glutton. The assistant offers Fr Vattoli bananas and eggs, the quintessential local super food which makes you instantly energetic. When Fr Vattoli calls his sister Mariyamma and her husband Davis who lives at the next village, the couple is shown as excitedly cutting up a ripe jack fruit.

How Amen celebrated local tastes and flavours of Kuttanad

The dining table at Shoshanna's house is always filled with delicious delicacies made by the women in the family. From fried pearl spot to special Kuttanadan duck roast, the family treats their guests to tasty food. In fact delicious food is the bribe that they offer to a government official and also to the goons, Vikraman and Muthu, who are hired to thrash Solomon. Shoshanna, who is a fiery and free spirited young woman, meanwhile, 'serves' spicy chicken curry on Vikraman's head before hitting him with the bowl.

When Shoshanna is engaged to an NRI from America, a heart broken Solomon drowns his sorrow in bottles of local toddy and a plate of good old spicy beef roast.

The character of the 'kallu chethukaran' (one who harvests toddy from coconut trees), who is always on top of a coconut tree, acts as the village oracle who watches everything.

Amen, which has an ensemble star cast, truly is an incredible movie which weaves realism and magic to create a spectacle on screen.

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