Mapping the Motif of the Wandering Jew in Salim Kumar’s Karutha Joothan

Jeslin Mery John, St Thomas College, India
Asha Susan Jacob, St Thomas College, India
Published: December 31, 2022

Citation: John, J. M., & Jacob, A. S. (2022). Mapping the Motif of the Wandering Jew in Salim Kumar’s Karutha Joothan. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 9(2).


The motif of the Wandering Jew is an archaic motif whose conventional elements can function within widespread narrative contexts. Formally the motif might operate in the same manner as do other motifs: as just another component of the narrative structure. But because of the comprehensive nature of its features, this motif is able to deliver its essential message of human suffering even as it migrates through diverse cultural environments, as the interaction of its axiological elements with their newly acquired social and cultural contexts has the capacity to appear seamless and unlaboured. Salim Kumar’s Malayalam film Karutha Joothan (2017) is a case in point. The work employs this motif remarkably well in what is an uncharted cultural context: the dwindling community of Black Jews in Kerala. Along with articulating the distress of a marginalised community, the film memorialises a significant historical era. This paper examines the ways in which the film’s protagonist comes to represent the prototypical lonely wanderer of the generic myth.


diaspora, history, Jewish, minority, wandering