Ezra is a film about black magic and the events of a Jewish family in the 1940s in Kerala; hence the name of the film which derives from the name of a murdered scion of that family. At the same time, this film is also about reincarnation and how the soul of one dead individual moves into another many, many years later.
This happens through the setting of a young couple who emigrate from Mumbai to Cochin. Husband Ranjan Mathew (Prithviraj) works for a nuclear waste company. She is the reincarnation of the murdered Ezra. Events kick off when his wife Priya (Priya Anand) buys an antique box from an antique shop. The unknown box contains the spirit of the dead Ezra who then proceeds to devastate the bungalow in Cochin where they live when Priya unknowingly opens the box and lets the spirit out. It is never fully explained why the couple chose to live in a rented bungalow rather than a modern apartment as they were doing in Mumbai. Ranjan Mathew being Jewish, on the advice of his father, in the meantime leaves to consult with the Jewish clergy on what can be done to avert the calamity. Along the way Priya calls him to inform him that she is pregnant. The priest tells him that this is nothing but an evil spirit that is about to be born reborn.
With this disturbing news that he keeps to himself Ranjan Mathew returns to his home in Cochin. Immediately after their confabulations, the priest dies and his son, also a priest, lands there to see what can be done about it. In a gripping final scene where Ranjan Mathew is exorcised, it is revealed that he himself is the murdered Ezra. Then he proceeds to attack the priests who conduct the exorcism who in the meantime continuously chant the Torah. Ezra eventually dies when the spirit leaves his body and returns to the box which is then quickly closed and dipped into the body of water where Ezra’s mortal remains lie. We can therefore think that everything ends well; except that the box is again picked up by some vagrants further downstream. The task of conjecturing what would derive from it is therefore left to the viewer’s imagination and therefore the film ends.
This is simply a general outline and it is up to the viewer to watch to get a full idea of the many details in between while watching the film. Prithviraj has a stellar role as Ranjan Mathew and other noteworthy performances include Tovino Thomas as a local policeman and Vijayraghavan as a priest. It’s not for nothing that this film was featured in a recent review as a trending Malayalam horror film. Filled with Hebrew dialogue with Malayalam subtitles, the horror scenes fit in well with the overall story.
To fully appreciate the film one must also be aware of the Jewish traditions of Kerala, namely that after the dispersion of the Jews by the Roman Empire in ancient times, they gathered in other places in Kerala where they continued their way of life unique until the formation of Israel when they all emigrated to that land and that the oldest synagogue in the world located in Kerala, the ‘Black Synagogue’ was also dismantled and reassembled in Israel in the last years of the twentieth century; in this way, so to speak, it decisively closed a chapter in the history of Judaism; although, as this film shows, cultural connections continue. This film speaks in part of one of the important traditions of Judaism; that is to say that Jews are forbidden to marry outside their faith, unlike other Indian minorities such as the Parsis who do. As far as I know, there are no more Jews left in Kerala, although perhaps the vestiges of their traditions can still be seen in places like Matancherry.
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