36 years of Panchavadipalam: KG George's political satire turns reality with Palarivattam bridge demolition

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Malayalam cinema industry takes pride in its incredible comedy movies that have created ripples in box office as well. However, movie lovers agree in unison that iconic movie Panchavadipalam is one of the best satires ever made in the language. This year marks the 36th anniversary of the release of Panchavadipalam that draws the perfect picture of a typical village in Kerala. Through some well etched characters and amazing cinematic moments, the movie is a perfect satire that takes a dig on the corruption and nepotism that is prevalent in the administration. Interestingly, the day on which the demolishing of the now controversial Palarivattam flyover begins coincides with the date on which Panchavadipalam was released. The movie had hit the theaters on 28 September 1984. Meanwhile, on 28 September 2020, the demolition of the Palarivattam flyover begins following a Supreme Court order.

It must truly be a strange coincidence that time had kept in store for the Keralites. The Palarivattam Bridge in Kochi gets demolished on the same day when the Panchavadipalam in the Airavathakuzhi panchayat too was demolished. If Panchavadipalam was a 200 feet bridge built in an imaginary panchayat, the Palarivattam flyover, which is more than 750 meters long, is real.

One couldn’t help but applaud the impeccable far sightedness of legendary director KG George and writer Veloor Krishnankutty when even the High Court of Kerala called the controversial bridge a Panchavadipalam. The movie still remains one of the most memorable political satires ever released in Malayalam. The movie directed by KG George and produced by Gandhimathi Balan was based on the short story called Paalam Apakadathil written by Veloor Krishnankutty.

The director had read the story when he was trying to make a lighter movie, almost like a cartoon. When he realized the great potential of the story, he had approached cartoonist Yesudasan to help him with the script. George had once revealed that he and Yesudasan had jointly prepared the screenplay of the movie after the latter had agreed to be part of it.

In the movie, the corrupt politicians spread rumors that the existing bridge has gotten weak. They plan to demolish the bridge and construct a new one which would give them a chance to make some easy money. The director narrated the gist of the theme in just a single line, “The inauguration of the bridge was planned on the same day as Kurup’s daughter’s wedding.” However, in the movie, the bridge collapses on the day of the inauguration itself.

After the movie became a hit, Keralites began calling all constructions that siphoned off public money as Panchavadipalam. When controversies arose about the strength of the Palarivattam flyover, the High Court too called it Panchavadipalam. Though it is a strange coincidence that the Palarivattam Bridge would be demolished on the same day as the movie got released years ago, the social media has been celebrating it with hilarious memes, trolls and even meaningful discussions. 

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