Avalude Ravukal/ Her Nights
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Avalude Ravukal/ Her Nights (1978)
Director: I.V. Sasi
Cast: Seema, Thoppil Bhasi, Ravi Kumar
The 17.38 minute sequence that got Avalude Ravukal its reputation
It is the dark and stormy night of many a single man's fantasies. Our studious, good-boy young hero is sitting at his desk, working hard, when the doorbell rings. When he opens the door he beholds a beautiful young college-going lady (played by Seema), an MA student, wearing a skin-tight top, getting soaked in the pouring rain. Her nipples are visible through her wet top. His eyeballs dip down to notice them only for a micro-second before he is back to his normal curt, chaste, even irritable, self.
What does she want?, he asks.
Shelter from the rain, she replies.
Quite obviously he does not know his Dylan (Zimmerman, not Thomas). Or else he might have asked her to "Come in," he should have said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."
The hero, being a chaste man, is reluctant to let her in. After letting her soak in the rain for 1.02 minutes, he tries to shut the door on her. However, she manages to cross the doorstep and get in. He continues to be rude to her and asks her to leave.
However, after 40 seconds of her ingratiating pleas and his high-minded rudeness he shows her where the bathroom is.
Inside the bathroom, we see her from behind. She takes off her top. She had not worn a bra. We see her stripped to the waist, her hair covering some of her naked back. (See Adult content in Malayalam cinema.)
The Seema character now takes a shower, during which we only get to see her bare shoulders. Indian films have been showing as much skin as that, if not more, since the 1930s. However, instead of letting the audience into essential details like whether or not she uses soap, and if yes which brand, and how long she takes to bathe, the film's makers cut to the hero outside, looking grim.
After the shower you can't expect Seema to wear her wet top, can you? So, she stretches a bare arm out of the bathroom door to ask the hero for something to wear,
After a long discussion he reluctantly gives her a freshly cleaned white, full-sleeved cotton shirt to wear. His tailor must have known that actually Seema would wear it, because it is only long enough to cover the top of her thighs. It would not have gone lower than the hero's navel. (See picture) The sleeves are somewhat long but the shoulders and waist fit the slim Seema perfectly.
So, now we are treated to young Seema's shapely thighs. She even caresses and rubs them for our benefit, in case we had not noticed them before. (This shot, of Seema in a male shirt bending down to touch her thigh was used in the film's publicity all over India. It has aged well in the intervening decades and is now considered 'iconic' and one of the most recognisable images of the cinematic history of India.)
Obviously our hero's bathroom did not have a hair drier. So, Seema jerks her hair to shake off droplets of water. (This is considered romantic in India. A 1960s Hindi-Urdu film even had a song Na jhatko zulf say paani/ yeh moti toot jayeingey Don't shake water off your tresses/ Those pearls will get shattered.)
But Seema is being a tease, not romantic. A few drops of water fall on her shirt, exactly where her nipples would be, with no bra beneath. Perhaps on the big screen, with a 35mm print, this bit of translucence revealed something. Not in the video version.
The hero is not only ignorant of Dylan but also of the conventions of Indian commercial cinema, according to which he is supposed to let her sleep on his bed, and sleep on the floor himself. The chaste boor insists on sleeping on his own bed, and sends her to the kitchen store instead. There rats feed on stored food.
In Dastak a rat was enough to make Rehana Sultan throw away her sari. However, Seema has no intention of losing her shirt. She heads right into the chaste hero's room.
But the hero is made of sterner stuff. Despite 17.38 minutes of screen time nothing happens.
And they have the nerve to call Avalude Ravukal 'soft-porn,' indeed the mother of two decades of Malayalam 'soft-porn.' (In most Western countries, debutantes show more skin at the high school prom.)
See Avakude Ravukal
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Avalude Ravukal/ Her Nights