S for Shankarabharanam

K.Vishwanath the brilliant mind behind gems of Southern Cinema has been recently conferred the Dada Saheb Phalke Award and it is a great honour to revisit his classic work – Shankarabharanam – The Jewel of Shankara.

The movie narrates the tale of a remarkable Carnatic music vidwaan Shankara Shastrigal played by Somayajulu; his platonic relationship with a prostitute’s daughter Thulasi and a sequence of events that lead to the shastrigal becoming young Thulasi’s guardian. There is a track of the shastrigal’s own daughter and her wedding as well. This movie saw SPB flowering into a brilliant singer with awesome renditions of songs. It will not be incorrect to say that this movie definitely marked a turning point in SPB’s playback singing career as well. The movie’s resounding success and awards led to the movie being dubbed into other languages as well.

Listen to this soul-stirring gem:

Trailer of the digitally restored Tamizh version of the movie:

 

 

R for Ratha Kaneer

This was a phenomenal movie that showcased the brilliance of MR Radha – the acting genius. One wonders if he had not embroiled himself in the MR shooting case if his legacy would be different. This movie Ratha Kaneer – Tears of Blood – released in 1954 and was directed by Krishnan-Panju. The movie introduces us to a rich man Mohan and looks at his life in flashback mode as the story starts with a speech by SS Rajendran talking about Mohan after unveiling his statue.

The movie is based on a play written by Thiruvarur Thanagrasu and MR Radha won critical acclaim playing the lead Mohan wherever the play was staged. The play’s success turned it into an even greater film.

From Wikipedia — “The story revolves around Mohanasundaram, a returned-from-abroad, westernized, rich man who shows arrogance and contempt towards anything part of Indian culture and anyone below his social standards. According to Selvaraj Velayutham, Ratha Kanneer was built on a framework of purity and impurity. The title of the film meaning “Tears of Blood” refers to the tears of the wife who is pure.”

There is a scene wherein he turns a leper and beggar and rues at his life that still brings tears to the viewer’s eyes. A true classic of Tamizh cinema that teaches us how to lead an ideal and virtuous life and the perils of committing sins!

Watch the movie!

 

Q for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

The movie that launched Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla into Bollywood superstardom. Juhi Chawla is now a leading businesswoman with interests in television and sports. Aamir continues to act with some fantastic movies in the past decade.

QSQT was a super-duper hit on release with all the songs turning chartbusters. The story of star-crossed lovers from warring families, the movie starts with deaths and ends with deaths of lovers.

Some songs that continue to enthrall:

 

P for Parinayam

Released in 1994, ‘Parinayam’ (Wedding) was written by MT Vasudevan Nair and directed by Hariharan. The movie starred Mohini in a powerhouse role (I still feel Southern Cinema did not give her the accolades and roles she deserved). Other characters include Manoj K Jayan, Vineeth, Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu. With songs tuned by Bombay Ravi and lyrics by Yusuf Ali Kechery the songs stirred the soul.

Listen to the gem below:

The movie explores the problems faced by a young Namboothiri widow and is based on Smarthavicharam (ritualistic trial for adultery) of Kuryeddath Thathri, that created a shock among Kerala in early twentieth century that led to the reformation of Namboothiri community. <Extracted from Wikipedia>

The movie is full of fantastic performances and shows how drama can take a viewer to another plane of contentment altogether. The movie truly adds the F in Feminism and I would recommend all women to watch it please.

B for Bhuvana Oru Kaelvi Kuri

“Bhuvana Oru Kaelvi Kuri” – “Bhuvana A/One Question Mark!”

This movie released in 1977 and was directed by SP Muthuraman. Rajini who so far played negative roles with elan and oozing menace played the hero/saviour and Shivakumar one of the perennial good guy-type roles played the smooth talking villain. Sumithra played the eponymous Bhuvana and there were some melodious and meaningful numbers tuned by Illaiyaraja.

Shivakumar plays Nagaraj a womaniser, Rajini plays Sampath – road-side garment sellers living in Tirunelveli. The two are friends and Sampath is content in playing second foil to Nagaraj. On a trip to Madras they come across Muthu who is carrying a lot of money. Muthu dies of a cardiac arrest and Nagaraj flees with the money. Samapth remains powerless and despite some protests does nothing. Nagaraj uses the money to open a garment store. Bhuvana visits them seeking answers, Nagaraj denies knowing anything about the missing money. He also seduces her and impregnates her. As part of a business deal he marries a rich heiress and becomes a wealthy businessman.

Meanwhile Bhuvana does not abort the child and Sampath to save his friend’s honour marries Bhuvana. He brings up the child as his own. Bhuvana and Sampath lead a platonic life with Bhuvana placing Samapth on a God-like pedestal. The movie takes interesting twists and turns. Does Nagaraj get punished? Does Sampath manage to find a place of love in Bhuvana’s heart? Watch the movie for answers.

I leave you with a brilliant song from the movie –

This movie paved the way for Rajini to get roles as a hero and Shivakumar was appreciated for his villainous role. But it was Sumithra who brought out all the nervous energy, gullibility and pathos of a young woman blinded by love with great elan. Truly a great role and once again a pity that we do not see such strong women-oriented movies today!

June-2

It is a day when two people whom I admire a lot celebrate their birthdays. Director Mani Ratnam sir and the Master Musician who has a score for every mood from life to death and everything in between – Isaignani – Illayaraja. There is nothing to say that has not already been said about these two giants of cinema. Whenever they united it was magic, a feast for the senses.

Dalapathi – Sundari Kannal….the violin – sheer ecstasy and agony at the same time!
Agninakshatram – I want this vintage Mani sir to return – deliver an action-packed thriller. Raja di raja, Thoongada vizhigal…
Nayagan – A memorable score – awesome acting by the Ullaga Nayagan – Neenga nallavara kaetavara??
Anjali – For making me cry like a sappy little girl every time I watch the movie. Anjali, Anjali, Anjali…., Veetuku veedu hey something, something.
Mouna Raagam – For giving us a pair that truly defines romance – Karthik and Revathi – lovely songs – Mandram vantha…, a fascinating BGM and of course Mister Chandramouli.

One wonders why they chose not to work again!

A new legend AR Rahman came into the forefront of music with Roja and the rest is history.

But we still long for a classic reunion of the masters!!!

A fitting song dedicated to the Master 🙂

12th Chennai International Film Festival – A Quick Glimpse

This year the event has the blessings of the ‘Chief’ of the people of Tamil Nadu – Amma – former Chief Minister Jayalalitha. So the facilities are apparently better and we have Rajkumar Theatres India Pvt. Ltd. as the main sponsor as well. What I noticed was the bathroom fittings have been thankfully changed at Woodlands theatre. The AC is still not working in Symphony Theatre. The souvenir with information about the movies to be screened is not yet ready. I just do not get the logic – when will the souvenir be issued? After half the movies are screened???? Last year too the same problems plagued the fest, if memory serves me right the souvenir was issued on the fourth day of the Fest. Chaos continues to reign supreme. On the second day at 5 PM the movie ‘Roseville’ was to play. The movie was announced by the student volunteers and for 15 minutes ‘Like the Wind’ was broadcast/played before the correct movie was played. If we take care of the smaller aspects the bigger things will get rectified. ID card was processed within an hour and that was really good. The daily news digest in broadsheet format is full of errors – the timings are all wrong. The complete schedule pamphlet has errors as well. In spite of all this we movie-lovers will throng to the Fest and make it a grand success! Mini movie reviews will follow soon.