In the world of cinema there are certain characters that tend to leave the audience with more questions than any definite answers and one such character is the enigmatic and beautiful Clara from the Malayalam classic “Thoovanathumbikal” directed by the great Padmarajan.
This wonderful character called Clara basically hails from a small town in Kerala and belongs to a poor family in desperate in need for money. It is this urgent need for money that compels Clara’s step-mother to initiate her into prostitution. It is at this point in the story that Clara for the first time meets Jayakrishnan (played by the great Mohanlal) who is the protagonist of the story and who is introduced to Clara as her first prospective client. It is during this first encounter under influence of rain that Clara and Jayakrishnan make love and a deep bond of love and respect is developed between the two. Although she quietly disappears from his life when she realizes that Jayakrishnan out of his own principle will readily marry her because he slept with her without realizing that she is a virgin. As time passes and Jayakrishnan yet again finds love in a simple village girl called Radha(played by Parvathy) when he receives Clara’s message that she is coming to see him. It is during this meeting that he confesses to Clara about his love for Radha. As a result of this confession Clara once again disappears from Jayakrishnan’s life until she sends a telegram for a last meeting. Thus overall the character of Clara is certainly mysterious and certainly adds charm to romance with the protagonist.
What stands out in this character of Clara is the fact that she is a strong and independent woman with great sense of dignity even though she does not belong to an economically stable family. This sense of independence is clearly seen in the way Clara on her own free will decides to enter the flesh trade just to escape from the clutches of her family. It is because of her dignity that she disappears from Jayakrishnan’s life for the first time after she makes love with him. The reason for this sudden disappearance (even though Jayakrishnan agrees to marry her) is what actually adds to the mystery of this character and also leaves the audience with two possibilities as for the reason, and they are firstly that she feels that she is not worth the genuine love shown by the protagonist simply due to the fact that by sleeping with him she has already become a prostitute in her mind, and secondly she may not able to fit in the society Jayakrishnan belongs to.
The second encounter with Jayakrishnan when Clara returns is when she actually falls in love with him although unfortunately for her he is now in love with another woman called Radha. It is at this meeting also that Clara’s practical nature and dignity comes to the fore when she informs him not to disappoint Radha. Finally it is at the climax where Jayakrishnan and Clara meet for one final meeting that she introduces him to her husband and explains to him that if she had not married it could have possibly destroyed the lives of the three of them. It is through this heartbreaking climax once again that the strong pragmatic nature of Clara comes to the fore when although it is evident that she is truly in love with Jayakrishnan yet she decides to marry herself so that he can move on in his life with Radha.
Overall the character of Clara is certainly one of the most fascinating and mysterious characters to ever been written in Indian cinema. The fact that here is a female character who decides to sacrifice her true love just for a better future of this very same lover is very rarely seen in Indian cinema. What is also rare about the character Clara is the fact that she is a strong and fiercely independent woman and not a typical submissive woman that we see in Indian cinema so often.
With the extremely beautiful Sumalatha playing the role of Clara with great sense of dignity and aura this character has certainly become one of the iconic characters not only in Malayalam cinema but in Indian cinema as well. Above all what this character certainly represents is the fact that sometimes in life the destiny of certain relationship’s can indeed be very cruel.