Films have the power to develop a nostalgia for times in the past that sometimes never actually existed in our lives. Aravindan’s “The Bogeyman” reminded me of a childhood that I hope I had lived.
Aravindan takes us into a fictional village in Kerala with beautiful hilly landscapes. We see the sun rising in the morning, children going to school, the old village lady filling water from the pond and getting teased by the kids, children playing in the school playground, singing songs, studying etc. In short, we see a life free from worries and full of dreams of wondrous lands and fascinating creatures until one fine day, The Bogeyman arrives.
He is a strange person wearing a fake beard, holding a staff and a wooden pole balanced on his shoulder, singing wondrous songs and performing magic tricks. The children are initially scared of him but soon they start getting comfortable with him. The Bogeyman treats them to sweets and games and in return the children take care of him when he falls sick. He is a welcome distraction to the kids and they can’t seem to get enough of him. He evokes a goodness in them as they even stop being nasty with the old lady. They dance and sing along with him, a moment that we wish could freeze in time. But unfortunately, time never stops and one fine day, The Bogeyman decides to leave the village.
Before leaving, he performs one last trick to entertain his dear children. He transforms each one of them into different animals for some time before returning them back to their human form. Unfortunately, one of the boy’s who got transformed into a dog, runs away from the scene as he gets chased by a real wild dog. He is now trapped in the dogs body and has been chased far away from his home. Fortunately, he gets discovered by a teenage girl from a rich family who is fond of dogs. She puts a collar on him and treats him like her pet. The dog remains unhappy even after the love he gets from the girl and finally they decide to set him free. By chance, the dog is able to return to his family where his mother recognizes him. The family tries all kinds of god men to perform ceremonies to transform the boy back into his human form but its all in vain. In the mean time, the old village lady dies. Hopes of The Bogeyman returning to the village start diminishing when one fine day his chanting voice travels across the village and the dog rushes to him. As soon as he hugs The Bogeyman, he is transformed back into his human form. A rather predictable ending you might think.
But then, the boy returns home and does something inexplicable. He releases his pet parrot from the cage into the sky and there are poignant images of birds flying in formations. We now realize that the boy learn’t an important lesson through all his misery which most of us never learn in our entire lives. We take our freedom for granted. We never realize what it actually means to be free. Maybe every village needs a Bogeyman to teach us this important lesson.