Decoding Churuli - A Serpentine Storytelling
In an earlier interview during TIFF screening, Lijo highlighted few things about Churuli. This film is part of trilogy, the first two being Ee.Ma.Yau and Jallikattu. The themes explored are life, death and afterlife in the order. So Churuli’s core idea is based on purgatory and the great tribulation period. In catholic terms, after death there is a state of Purgatory. This is a place where some people who have sinned are purified in a 'cleansing fire', after which they are accepted into Heaven. And in great tribulation (prior period to the return of Christ) a guardian angel watches on the sinner’s transformation to make a final recommendation. Lijo also stated that each person who watches the films has to find answers to the questions raised by the film. So, he kept the ending undefined and I was being told that the TIFF version is different from the OTT version. Its impossible for me to answer all questions and to give a full logical explanation of all events, but this is my attempt to decipher some of it's meaning.
The whole story is about the life-cycle one has to go through after death, the real test they have to undergo, before one achieves the final journey to heaven. After death, the sin committer's is brought to the so called Alien land (by the moopan), and they will be reminded of their sins and given a chance to be atoned and they have to go through a purification process. But in this land some people believe this is heaven as they enjoy doing more sins as there is no one to question. Kodgan appears to punish (as part of tribulation period end) or purify but evil spirit overpowers him. But the Angel appears in another form and make them realize the sins and the climax to portal journey completes the purification process and it becomes a two-step process than a single step as they need to suffer and realize their sin they committed in this land again. So, the loop or spiral begins. Its like you are guilty until proven innocent.
The film begins with an animated start, a voice over narration (Pengal or Black magic women) telling a folklore story to Shajivan (Vinay F). This is a prior loop story which is going to repeat. So that means Shajivan has received the black magic treatment in the prior loop. The prior loop story is never shown (but only through various dialogues and interactions with characters) we get a faint idea and need to interpret. And that is where Lijo's brilliance came.
So, let’s analyse the current loop (the actual visual story) from Vinay's point of view. We start with Version 2 of the same old story, but here characters change names and role. Here Shajivan (Vinay Fort) is seen coming to alternate dimension land along with Chemban to nab a Fugitive Soubin. So why Vinay enters again this land is self explanatory. Vinay starts a sense of belonging to the place before he even enters the mysterious place. So that means somewhere in his sub concise mind the previous set of events happened in prior loop exist but it’s not a complete pic for him yet. And both of them are not under Alien's control yet. So, over a period of days or months these two becomes part of the Churuli culture. So instead of enforcing law they break the law.
When Vinay accidentally sees his version in time loop machine, a flash of light triggers on his face and he realizes the past and Evil Spirit overpowers him. He kills the good spirit Kodagan who is associated with the idea of great tribulation and he appears exactly after the church ceremony. And the evil spirit doesn’t stay throughout with him and there are times Vinay comes to normal self. So, in order to have the purification process and to achieve heaven state, (Vinay) has to transfer the spirit (why he felt like transferring I don’t know may be remorse). So, like the folklore story being told, Vinay manages to bring Chemban to Pengal and moves the spirit to Chemban. Soubin meanwhile has achieved the free sin state and he has completed his half-transformation phase but he is being punished for his sin again and is paralyzed. But he still has some mindshift control at his possession. Joju becomes the medium in the absence of Kodagan trying to bring closure. In the end they along with Soubin moves to Portal where Soubin goes to real heaven, Chemban becomes maadan and Vinay becomes the fugitive and even get paralyzed in future for the sins he committed again.
Now lets apply same logic in prior loop. Soubin is the maadan and he comes with Vinay to catch a fugitive named Vasu. Soubin transfer the maadan spirit to Vinay and he acquires an ordinary man status and he is paralyzed a form of suffering for the sins he committed when they enters the portal in first loop. I guess loop will continue to exist and the fight between good and evil spirit even on dead land continues to exist.
I hope i dont become a mad maadan after watching the movie twice :)