A tragic love story, Kaliyattom is an indigenous adaptation of Othello of Shakespeare set against the backdrop of the Indian traditional art form, Theyyam. The situations and sequences of the Shakespeare play are adapted to realities of Kerala, one of the southern states of India. Theyyam artist, Kannan Perumalayan falls in love with beautiful upper-cast girl Thamara and marries her against the wishes of her landlord father. Paniyan, whose job is to provide comic relief in the festivals, induces paranoia and jealousy in Perumalayan. In the traditional concept of Theyyam, the artist assumes the dimensions of God when he is performing. But Perumalayan's divinity is left incomplete when he murders his wife before having completed the process of dressing up for his act. The nuances of customs and traditions are lost on the audience unfamiliar with such knowledge, but the film provides visual entertainment with rich colors of masks and dances. The musical score (one of the highlights of the previous films of Jayaraaj) is also one of the strongest points of this film, which tries to examine diverse levels of power.
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