Readers Write In #137: The hazy poetry of ‘Psycho’

Posted on January 30, 2020


(by Venky Ramachandran)

Dear Mysskin,

As I walked out of the theater yesterday, I walked out with open arms with an ineffable urge to find you and hug you! What a beautiful movie you’ve made! Sure, there were flaws. Which movie doesn’t? And that’s not the point. Why do I love your movies? Every time I walk into that dark room, I am gobsmacked by your deep, unflinching passion to explore the inner psycho drama each of us go through in our lives.

It doesn’t matter to me if they are not finely embellished and polished works of art like Maniratnam’s. I don’t watch your movies for that. Your movies have a clear purpose. Your gaze is strictly inward. You make your actors run around like sleepwalking puppets in the middle of their subconscious dream perhaps for that reason. Your movies help me access my deep recesses of my inner subconscious, and perhaps, that’s why in this latest work of beauty you didn’t bother to put much effort to shoot those scenes outside the dungeon well. And I deeply respect you for that. Your movies are the hazy poetry that one wakes up to every morning, when all one remembers are a series of vivid but vague images that can only be made sense when one is willing to let go of interpretations of the thinking mind, and stay deeply observant of the inner gestalt that animates one’s being.

As a student of Yoga, I have learned all these years that the most difficult thing is to observe, as JK put it (You made him roam around the streets in Yuddham sei, didn’t you?), to observe without judgement. Isn’t that why I come to your movies every time to see humans struggling to make sense and transcend their disability along with handicapped men and ostracized women, who’ve been doomed to remain the dregs of the society forever?

Can I share with you honestly how I felt about this movie? I found myself out of place in the first half, with that ridiculous comic sidekick who was walking around with Gautam. Perhaps, Udhayanidhi Stalin was not the right choice if all you wanted to do in the first half was to establish the loving innocence of the character of Gautam. I couldn’t imagine a character like Kamala Dass as an SI, although I loved the minor flourishes all through out the movie like making her wear black when she is going her catharsis in front of Gautham. Or your choice of cars – Black for the psychopath. Black and white for the middle path Gautama and white for all the victims. At some point, you even mention Kamala Dass was an IPS. Nevertheless, I accepted all of these minor irritations and made peace with it for the sheer brilliance you bowled me with in the last half hour.

As a student of Jungian psychotherapy, I am familiar with the psychodrama that unfolds in our lives with the powerful archetypal energy of Judge whom we carry all through our lives to enjoy its gifts of structure and stability and also carry its burden of the tyranny of discipline and what a thorough examination of the Judge archetype you have fleshed out in this movie!!. I loved the poetic touch when psychopath’s liberation had to happen through the killing of the authoritarian throat of his Judge who held the keys to his liberation. I was blown away by the climax cave scene when he finally comes out of the cave and re-enact the inner psychodrama in front of the imposing Judge and the loving friend archetypal energies!.

It helped to see him earlier draw inside the walls of the cave he was crawling into after every murder. (I would have loved to start this movie establishing the psycho character little deeper. Why not show some glimpses of his childhood and his first choking experience with the Judge archetype?)

The psycho drew his manic killing energies from the Judge hitting the gavel “Sinner” ( and that explains why he had to keep Judge alive for his manic energies to thrive) and he had to go through the ritual of seeking forgiveness every time before the authority of the Judge to go inside his cave like a worm and repeat the ritual for 13 times, until he finally repeats the ritual for the 14th time, this time with the loving friend who was simply there to observe the drama for what it is with sheer compassion and liberate him forever.

That you are able to make movies the way you want with this clarity of purpose towards the inner gaze is a rare miracle in these times! Please make more movies. I can’t wait to meet you in person and give you a warm hug!!