Death is an experience that is fathomable only to those who experience it in close quarters. Films across the world have portrayed the end of life in various forms, but only very few may have actually projected what happens in the moments after it.
For those who have not seen death closely, Ee.Ma.Yau is an eye opener. It lays bare the naked realities of those who are left to deal with its aftermath. The film breaks down the immediate moments after demise in the most unabashed and bold manner. After the sudden passing away of Vavachan, the story revolves around his family –wife (Pennamma), daughter (Agnes aka Nisa), son (Eeshi), daughter-in-law (Elisabeth aka Sabeth) and the several other characters of a little fishing village where it is set.
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery strips the veil of solemnity that is associated with death and uncovers the hypocrisy and unguarded realities of people when confronted with another’s death through the medium of black comedy. He dares to make the viewer laugh amid a sober situation.
Pennamma’s need to display her loss to the villagers, Sabeth’s concern to look appropriate before visitors for the funeral, Nesa’s lover’s sly attempt at groping her while consoling her, are just some of the incidences where the thought of the dead is secondary. While the family members and villagers weep over the dead body, Eeshi’s lack of emotion throughout tugs at the audience’s sense of decorum.
The film spans the duration of a single night, from Vavachan’s death to his funeral the next morning. Pellissery bravely prods the conscience when he shows how the need to honour the dead for the sake of societal propriety takes precedence over honest grief. Even before he could take stock of his father’s parting, Eeshi is propelled into beginning preparation for the funeral rites. The film captures Eeshi’s efforts at giving his father a grand, fitting funeral that they were discussing just minutes before his passing. Despite being penniless, Eeshi is determined to buy a grand coffin, to adhere to his word that he gave his father. His lack of judgement at this critical time is aptly pointed out by his close friend Ayyappan.
Speculation about the cause of death, with the numerous tales that are spun by the thrill-seeking villagers, holds up a mirror to society when Lazar admits that he is doing it for “oru rasam”. The nurse, doctor, and SI’s apathy towards the death, their swift conclusions built upon flying rumours, heeded to by the local vicar as well, expose the indifference of humanity and its delight in base pleasures. Ayyappan is the only pragmatic character who goes beyond himself to help out his friend Eeshi at his time of need.
It is only in the climactic moment that Eeshi experiences catharsis in letting go of all the put up constructs of society, and delivers to his deceased father all that is required towards the dead – a heartfelt funeral replete with pure emotions.