U for Uttama Villain

The presence of this movie in this list may irk a few; but I believe that this is Kamal’s best work in a long time. At times, throughout the movie, I wondered if Kamal and Manoranjan (the character’s name) just mirrored!

The movie released in 2015 with Ramesh Arvind as the director. The story works with the film within a film concept and sees a superstar learning of his life-threatening disease, looking to come to terms with his past transgressions and doing one final film with his mentor – Margadarsi played by K Balachander in a brilliant bit of casting. This was KB’s last role and he died in real life.

There is a touching scene where Kamal’s son says to him, I want to go to the USA learn filmamking/screenwriting and come back and make a movie with you that’s believable and real. The theatre resounded with claps and it was a genuine moment of joy.

The film within the film set in ancient times sees Uttaman rescuing a princess from an evil king and incorporates an elaborate Theyyam sequence as well.

Urvashi as the superstar’s long-struggling wife really deserves the most applause and really showcases her inner pain as well. In real life, she has had a messy divorce and is struggling with alcohol issues.

Watch the film:

T for Thaneer Thaneer

As most of the southern states are looking at a disastrous drought and cruel summer, the situation in Tamil Nadu is at its pathetic best and the water-crisis  that we are looking at – we only have human greed to blame!

At such a crucial juncture, K. Balachander’s brilliant movie – “Thaneer Thaneer” – “Water Water” seems to be the perfect post. The movie shows the efforts of a village handling water scarcity and the people battling against corrupt politicians who seek to politicise the issue. Saritha gave a brilliant performance and the movie based on a play by Komal Swaminathan is ranked among the 100 best movies of Indian Cinema. The movie released in 1981 to critical acclaim and won numerous awards.

Watch the movie:

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.

O for Oridathu

‘Oridathu’- ‘Once Upon a Place’ – written and directed by master film-maker G.Aravindan. The movie had a powerhouse star cast including Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu, Vineeth and Sreenivasan.

The story is set in a remote village in Kerala, the problems that the villagers face and the village headman’s attempts to bring electricity into the little village. Mixing satire, dark humour and portraying the harsh truth of life in rural India with ease, the movie won a number of awards and is still looked upon fondly by lovers of cinema.

Watch the movie here: