One’s Own Choice / Swayamvaram

One's Own Choice / Swayamvaram

Dir : Adoor Gopalakrishnan / India / 131 minutes / Malayalam / 1972


The film pictures the story of a couple, Vishwam (enacted by Madhu) and Sita (enacted by Sharada), who have married against the preference of their families, and left their hometown. The film begins with a series of abstract sequences of Viswam and Sita, the lovers who have eloped to the city in search of love and a new life. He starts looking for a job, and aspires to become a writer and publish his own novel while Sita looks for small jobs. They fail in their attempts to find work and economic constraints force them to shift to a slum. Vishwam finds a job as a teacher in a junior college but soon loses it and finally ends up working as a clerk in a timber factory. Even though their life was flooded with sufferings Sita gives birth to a baby. However things take a tragic turn when Vishwam falls critically ill. Sita, in her poor condition, tries hard to provide her husband better treatment. But Vishwam dies, leaving her alone with her baby. The film ends with Sita feeding her baby while looking at a closed door.


1973 Moscow International Film Festival (Russia)- Adoor Gopalakrishnan – Nominated
National Film Award for Best Feature Film – 1973
National Film Award for Best Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan- 1973
National Film Award for Best Actress: Sharada- 1973
National Film Award for Best Cinematography: Mankada Ravi Varma- 1973
Kerala State Film Award for Best Photography (Black-and-white): Mankada Ravi Varma- 1973
Kerala State Film Award for Best Art Direction: Devadathan- 1973

Director biography and filmography:

Writer – Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan was born in Kerala, India in 1941 into a family that patronized Kathakali and other classical performing arts. He started acting on the amateur stage at the early age of eight. Wrote and directed several stage plays during his student days.

Adoor had his graduation from the Gandhigram Rural University in 1960 specializing in Economics, Political Science and Public Administration. He left the governmental job of a statistical investigator to study cinema at the Film Institute of India, Pune. On graduating in1965 with specialization in Screenplay writing and Advanced Film Direction, he pioneered the film society movement in Kerala. The same year, he took the initiative to form India’s first film co-operative for production, distribution and exhibition of quality films.He has scripted and directed twelve feature films and about thirty Shorts and documentaries. Notable amongst the non-feature films are those on Kerala’s performing arts. His debut feature, Swayamvaram went on to win the national awards for best film, best director, best cameraman and best actress. He has since received national awards for best director five times, best screen playwright twice and best film two times.

His collection of essays, Cinemayude Lokam (The World of Cinema) was given the national award for the Best book on Cinema in 1984. In 2002, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington honored him by holding a complete retrospective of his work. Other major retrospectives of his films include those at the Cinematheque in Paris, La Rochelle, Pesaro, Lincoln Centre- New York, Fribourg, Lyons, Ljubljana, Munich etc. He has served on the juries of Venice, Singapore (Chair), Hawaii, Fribourg (Chair) Alexandria (Chair), New Delhi, Sochi, Shanghai, Dubai (Chair), Cairo (Chair), Valladolid (Chair), Goa (Chair) etc. International film festivals of Denver, Cairo, MAMI (Bombay), Colombo and New Jersey have honored him with Life Time Achievement Awards.In recognition of his contribution to international cinema, The French Govt. has bestowed on him the ‘Legion of Honour’ with the title, ‘The Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters’ the top French honour for culture (2004). In 2005 he received the Dada Saheb PhalkeAward, India’s highest national honour for Life- time achievement in cinema. The same year Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala conferred on him the honorary degree of D. Litt. In the year 2006 he received India’s top civilian award, Padma Vibhushan for his contribution to the Arts (Cinema). In 2010 the University of Kerala conferred on him the honorary degree of D.Litt. On 15th April, 2013 the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee formally inaugurated. The “Adoor Gopalakrishnan Film Archive and Research Fund” is to preserve his films and also to encourage and promote study and research of his work. In 2014 he received the highest honour of ‘Deshikottama’ (D.Litt.) from the Viswabharati University of Shantiniketan.In 2015 he was awarded the Dr. Bhupen Hazarika International Prize for Life Time Achievement.In 2017, he became the receipt of the ‘J. C. Daniel Award’ for Life Time Achievement in Cinema from the Govt. of Kerala. Also, the same year he became the recipient of the ICON Award given by the London Indian Film Festival.


Scriptwriter – Adoor Gopalakrishnan, K. P. Kumaran
Story – Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Music – M. B. Sreenivasan
Cinematographer – Mankada Ravi Varma
Editor – Ramesan


Madhu, Sarada, Adoor Bhavani, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, P. K. Venukuttan Nair, Vaikom Chandrasekharan Nair, Karamana Janardanan Nair, Bharath Gopi