Pasa Malar is considered to be a cult classic in Tamil cinema by any average movie buff.  It is one of my all time fav movie. I don’t think the movie had the most flawless screenplay. It indeed dragged unnecessarily at parts. But the movie had towering performances by Savitri and Sivaji Ganesan. It’s a must watch film if you are a fan of either of the two. I recently bought a bunch of Telugu classics of Savitri and I got Raktha Sambandham as well. My expectations for the movie were pretty high before watching it. So did the film manage to meet my expectations? I would say yes and no. I heard ANR was the initial choice for the lead role. But he turned down the role as he was skeptical about whether the audience would accept him and Savitri as brother and sister. It was then offered to NTR and he promptly accepted it. I wish ANR could have at least played the husband role of Savitri. Because they both are known for their extremely good onscreen chemistry. Even though the movie capitalized on the brother – sister affection. Gemini played a significant role in the original. His character had slight shades of Grey and he played it to perfection. I would rate it as one of his career best performance. Just watch out the scene where he confronts Sivaji defending his co-workers when they get expelled from the factory or the scene where he argues with Sivaji that he cannot keep his ego at stake before the latter leaves the house. Class acting! I honestly could not digest an actor like Kanta Rao enacting the part. As the role demanded an actor of better caliber. He was a total miscast. NTR’s performance was over-the-top in the first half. But he was way better in the second half. Savitri was good. She is always a complete natural.  I liked the minor changes made in the script.  The screenplay was definitely better handled in Telugu. I liked the fact that M.N.Rajam’s character(Devika) was made to die in the middle which was a good relief. தேவையே இல்லாமால் ஜவ்வு மாதிரி இழுத்து கொண்டே போவாங்க தமிழ்ல அந்த காரக்டரை. In Tamil, she would be sent to foreign country to pursue her higher studies in medicine abruptly. She would then be seen only towards the end of climax mouthing some extremely lame and cliched dialogues “Athaan ungalukku naan paadha sevai seyalangruthukka enakku ivalavu periya dhandanaya neenga kodukkanum” LMAO! Gemini will be holding a permanent grudge against Sivaji and both would not meet until the end. But in Telugu after Devika’s demise Kanta Rao would go to offer his condolences immediately after coming to know about it. Also Sivaji after leaving the house would never try to visit Savitri. NTR will go to meet Savitri and her child and after seeing how she is getting abused by Suryakantham with his own eyes, he would write his entire property on her name. Kanta Rao and Savitri will run to NTR’s house to see him, but it would rather be too late as he would have left the city without letting them know. The music was by Ghantasala. He retained most of the tunes for the songs in Telugu which were composed by Viswanathan and Ramamoorthy for Pasa Malar. “Evaro Nanu Kavvinchi Poyedevaro“(Yaar yaar yaar aval yaro) and “Oho Vayyari Vadina“(Mayangugiral oru madhu) were the only two songs which deviated from the original, both the songs did not impress me much. I think the song “Malargalai Pol Thangai Urangukiraal” where Sivaji dreams of his sister marriage was cut in both Telugu and Hindi. I was quite glad that it got cut! It was most likely done to reduce the length of the movie. Although, I like the song it could have easily been avoided. The picturization was a letdown. I found Sivaji’s look in particular to be so cheesy. All these minor changes made the Telugu version seem more realistic. When Bhimsingh remade the film in Hindi as Rakhi which featured Ashok Kumar and Waheeda Rehman in lead roles he smartly infused all these minor changes in the Hindi screenplay. I personally did not like the Hindi version much. I thought Ashok Kumar was way too old to play the role. But he won the Best Actor Award from Filmfare for Rakhi. Dilip Kumar should have been the ideal choice for the role IMHO!

Pradeep Kumar filled the place of Gemini. I wish Bhimsingh roped someone like Sunil Dutt who has both star appeal and acting skills for the role. The casting was awful again!

I think the budget should have probably been an obstacle. The movie was made in a shoestring budget. When Amaradeepam (not necessarily my fav movie) got remade in hindi as Amardeep by Sivaji productions. It featured a host of stars with the likes of Dev Anand, Padmini, Ragini, Vyjayanthimala and Pran enacting the key roles… I bet all of them were highly paid actors of their time. இந்த படம் எடுக்கும் போது மட்டும் ஏன் அவ்வளவு கருமித்தனம்னு உண்மையாகவே விளங்கவில்லை.

Overall in terms of performances I conclude Pasa Malar is by far the best out of the three versions. Sivaji and Savitri literally lived their roles. Savitri apparently underwent a crash diet and lost weight to look convincing in the climax. She used to have only one meal a day for two months. அவ்வளவு சிரமம் எடுத்து அவங்க நடித்த படம். But if you notice the climax she would be having perfectly manicured nails. lol. Wish Bhimsingh had paid attention to such trivial things. I thought Aroor Das’s dialogues could have been a tad more pragmatic.

I think the first time I watched the movie I was so young… I was just 14 or 15 years old. I wept like no tomorrow after watching the climax. இந்த படத்தை பார்த்து அநேகமாக அழாதவர்களே இருக்க முடியாது. It may seem ludicrous, but I rather felt unfortunate for not having any siblings for first time in my life. அப்படி ஒரு தாக்கத்தை ஏற்படுத்திய திரைப்படம் பாசமலர் !

[Sivaji Ganesan and Savitri] Malarnthum Malaratha – Pasa Malar

[NTR and Savitri] Chandurini Minchu – Rakthasambandham

[Ashok Kumar and Waheeda Rehman] Ya Meri Manzil – Rakhi


Ennullil MSV

In response to the questions raised “Have you all seen another composer praising another composer? Have you all seen another composer saying he is my guru, my soul?”, I would like to share some thoughts. It is nothing unique. The bonding between two contemporary composers Naushad Ali and MSV is legendary and worth recalling. The friendship started when MSV, an unknown entity, working in central studio exchanged letters with Naushad, a well known composer. After becoming an established Music director MSV was asked to present a program in Shanmugananda Hall in Mumbai. The organizers wanted to know the fee expected by him. He appealed them to make Naushad grace the occasion if possible and forget the fee. Naushad agreed to come for a few minutes because of his preoccupations. He was so impressed with the grand show put up by MSV and stayed till the end to everyone’s surprise. He appeared with a bagful of letters and emptied them on the stage. He told the audience that all these were written by MSV to him. He started preserving those letters because he valued the knowledge of a fan who had aptly listed out the musical nuances in his compositions. Naushad also remarked that he had a foresight that this office assistant will scale great heights and become an icon one day. The front row was filled with who’s who of Bollywood music like S.D.Burman, Shankar – Jaikishen, C.Ramachandra, R.D.Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum et all. A rare honor Bollywood had reserved for the musical genius MSV. Naushad invited MSV to his house for tea. When MSV visited Naushad, he was astonished by the huge collection of music by composers in different Indian languages. Naushad never failed to visit MSV during his trips to Chennai. They used to go for walks in beach. He used MSV’s harmonium only if he had to compose in Chennai. He has appreciated MSV on several occasions. He used to say MSV is large-hearted to refer him as his Guru and in reality he had learned so much from MSV. He used to add that he would take about 20 days to complete a song for which MSV had taken just 3 hours.

In yet another occasion when Naushad heard someone praising MSV as “Naushad of South India”. He humbly corrected the speaker that he is “MSV of North india”. It is an example that great achievers never allowed success go to their head.
The recent homage paid by a Music director to MSV is under criticism because it was hyped to hilt. It was advertised in the promos with an air of superiority that nobody had a better understanding of the nuances of MSV’s music than him. The show failed to meet the raised expectations of the music lovers and they have been voicing their disappointment.

Mannar received such huge accolades during his lifetime itself from a composer he held in very high esteem.

Things I liked about the movie:

The supporting cast being given adequate scope to prove their talent is a rarity. It is needless to mention about Sundari bai. But Sugumari was a revelation. She was in full form! I don’t remember liking her in any movies before SNSM. Even though her character had grey shades, I really loved her acting. She was so natural and spoke the Brahmin dialect well. Her body language was fun to watch. She was amazing. Both Sundari Bai and Sugumari really got into the skin of the character. YGP was so irritating. But that was the purpose of his character. If he accomplished it actually means he did his part incredibly well. His characterization was not implausible, there are indeed many men like him in our society. It is a sick truth.

The music was unique. I loved the way MSV experimented, the movie had just  two songs but both the songs were remarkable. The haunting Kandathai sollugiren, I doubt if any other singer would have been able to sing like him. Its one of the best ever songs sung by him. Veru idam thedi  poovalo was another soul touching melody. Vani did complete justice to the song. The background score was rich.

When I watched the movie first time I was so young and could not appreciate Srikanth much. I don’t know how Bhimsingh even thought of casting him in that character. lol. Because Srikanth is a Brahmin. But he was not given a Brahmin role in a Brahmin subject, as anyone would have expected. He was cast in a completely contrasting character. A rich middle aged man who speaks Madras local Tamil slang. The movie did not have a separate track for comedy and all the lighter moments were infused in his character.  I thought his character was so adorable when I watched the movie recently. He was actually very good.

After reading the novel. Sundari bai pours water on Lakshmi’s head and says she has become pure. ‘Kuzhandha nokku unnum nadakala’. She regrets she could have handled the situation wisely. It is an imaginary scene. It is not practical can happen only in stories. The way fantasy and reality is differentiated is beautiful. The scene really touched my heart.

I loved the platonic relationship portrayed in the movie between Srikanth and Lakshmi. But I felt the climax was kind of abrupt. The scene where Lakshmi pleads with Srikanth to sleep with her appalls you. May be we can say realistic because she feels insecure and doesn’t want to loose him at any cost. But why should a woman stoop that low, losing her dignity, tarnishing the beautiful relationship and proving she is no different from others.

Lakshmi’s accent was a put off in some sequences. Eg: Avaa shonaa, Avar shonaare. lol. The sho was really irritating. Why can’t she talk in a normal tone?  Like sonnaa or chonnaa eh? :P

Nagesh gave one of his best. I particularly liked his scene with the the college students who throw flak at his novel, the way he defends the protagonist was thought provoking. I think JK himself wrote the dialogues. I’m one of the few who happens to  prefer Nagesh – the character actor than Nagesh – the comedian. He is such a gifted actor. =)

It is just sad that right when Bhimsingh started to shift his focus towards parallel cinema he died. :(

Bhimsingh’s  earlier films were mostly big budget multi-starers. Of course, the music and  acting were always great in his movies. He brought out the best of Sivaji and Savitri IMHO! But I hate his woman characterizations, because they mostly eulogize men folks(read husband) as gods. I would like to give a classic example, in Paarthal Pasi Theerum Sivaji tells Savitri that he has found Gemini and goes to fetch him home. She feels so happy and sings “Andru oomai pennallo” cheerfully, towards the end of the song when Sivaji returns home this is the dialogue Savitri would say ‘Enge en deivam?!  Avar kaalgal enge?!! Avar kaalgala en kaaneerala abhishekam senja dhaan en manasu aarum !’. It makes me cringe. Why such glorifying male chauvinistic dialogues have to be employed? It makes no sense. I really pity the actresses those days. They were undoubtedly so talented but were given only that kind of roles and had to mouth such silly dialogues. Again in Pathi Bakthi the way Gemini suspects Savitri for no reason, that whole sequence and the climax is beyond ridiculous. Why should woman be portrayed that stupid? Even though he is my favorite director I will always criticize him for it. I wish he did more meaningful movies like SNSM and ONNP.

Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal – Kandathai Sollugiren – MSV

Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal – Veru Idam Thedi Poovalo – Vani Jairam

Oru nadigai Paarkum Nadagam – Ethanai Malargal

Oru Nadigai Paarkum Nadagam – Nadigai Paarkum Nadagam

I would say……

50% because of Gemini.

50% because of the ungrateful industry.

She should not have touched even a drop of alcohol under any circumstance in life. No matter how frustrated she was with her life.

ஜெமினி நடித்த சுமைதாங்கி திரைப்படத்தில்  “மயக்கம்மா கலக்கம்மா” என்ற பாடலில் ஒரு அருமையான வரி வரும்.

உனக்கும் கிழே உள்ளவர் கோடி, உள்ளதை நினைத்து நிம்மதி நாடு”

கண்ணதாசன் மிக அழகாக எழுதி இருப்பார். அந்த ஒரு வரியை மட்டும் வாழ்க்கையில் சாவித்திரி நினைவில் வைத்து கொண்டிருந்தால். எவ்வளவு  நல்லா இருந்திருக்கும்!

என்னை பொறுத்த வரைக்கும் அவங்க வாழ்க்கையில் எதை இழந்திருந்தாலும் “சுய நம்பிக்கையை” மட்டும் இழந்திருக்க கூடாது. என்ன இல்லை உண்மையிலேயே அவங்க கிட்ட? அழகு இல்லையா? திறமை இல்லையா? பெயர் இல்லையா? புகழ் இல்லையா? பணம் இல்லையா? கடவுள் எல்லாத்தையும் அள்ளித் தானே கொடுத்திருந்தார். எல்லாவற்றுக்கும் மேல் சிவாஜி கணேசனுக்கு இணையாக கருதப்பட்டவர் சாவித்திரி. “நடிகையர் திலகம்” என்று எல்லோராலும் போற்ற பட்ட ஒரே நடிகை. யாருக்கு கிடைக்கும் அந்த அரிய பட்டம்?!  She was adored by both the critics and audience. அவங்க திருமண வாழ்கை – அவங்க வாழ்க்கையில் சந்தித்த ஒரே சறுக்கல். அதை என்னனு சொல்றது யானை தன் தலையில் தானே மண்ணை வாரி கொட்டிக் கொள்வது போல் அவங்க வாழ்கையை அவங்களே கெடுத்து கிட்டாங்கனு சொல்வதா? இல்லை விதின்னு சொல்வதா?

Gemini and Savitri might have made a good looking pair on screen. But he was no match to her. The age difference between the two was sixteen years! It’s quite unbelievable eh?! Yes, its true Gemini was exactly 33 years old when he made his debut in films. Unlike many actors he never made attempts to hide his age. He was married already and was in a live in relationship with actress Pushpavalli. Also had a few children. As he always mentions his life was an open book. She did the biggest blunder of her life when she decided to settle as his second wife. Both did love each other immensely. A few factors separated them.

He married Juliana at the age of seventy-nine. He said he married her because he needed company in one of his interviews. If it was just for that, why couldn’t  have he adopted her as his daughter?!  What a disgusting man he was ! Honestly, she was half his age. Eww!

I have not seen her daughter talking anything remotely bad about her father in any of her interviews. She maintained a good relationship with him until his death and she has a cordial relationship with her half sisters. Rekha was diplomatic and did not badmouth him in the show with rendezvous with Simi Garewal in STAR WORLD. He doesn’t seem to have cared for Rekha or her siblings in any manner. Yes he and Pushpavalli may had differences. But still I don’t know how any daughter could forgive such a father.

Savitri’s career in the Tamil industry virtually got over by 1965. It’s indeed an overlooked fact. Her film offers started to decline after 1965. She just had a few odd releases like Thattungal Thirakkapadum, Kandhan Karunai, Saraswathi Sabatham etc to name a few. She had actually signed them all before 1965. They were just delayed releases. She did continue to act as pair with NTR and ANR till 1970. She was not paired opposite Sivaji for six years after the release of Thiruvilaiyadal.(1965 – 1971) Praptham (1971) was their last release. They stopped acting after Praptham for reasons best known to them. He teamed up with K.R.Vijaya and Jayalalitha. He also did a lot of movies with Padmini after her comeback in the late 60s as well. (Note: Padmini was five years older than Savitri) As far as MGR is concerned,  no matter how old he was he preferred working only with young heroines. He ran around trees with actresses who were nearly one fourth of his age. Yes, you can say quite pathetic. After Jayalalitha made her entry he even stopped acting with Saroja Devi.  Jayalalitha got replaced by Latha and Manjula later. It was how the Tamil industry functioned in the late 60s. Glamour was the order of the day. Savitri had put on some weight in the late 60s. It might be one of the reasons why she was not able to sustain her position in the industry. Both looks and talent are equally important to survive in the tinsel world. Its an undeniable fact.  The standard of movies definitely started to deteriorate right from the late 60s, that’s a different story. The golden period of Tamil cinema was between 1951 -1965 in my opinion. Even directors like Sridhar started to bad-mouth her. He cited Savitri’s weight as the reason for the failure of Manase Mandiram. Both Nenjil Oru Alayam and Dil Ek Mandir, the original Tamil and Hindi version were huge musical hits. Savitri did look fat in the movie. (She did the film shortly after the birth of her second child Satish.) But the reason for its failure in Telugu is because the overall movie was poor. It was Sridhar who actually needs to be blamed for it . Because his direction in the Telugu version was not up to the mark. I was so pissed off when he gave such a lame excuse. It was ridiculous to say the least. Because both Devika and Meena Kumari were quite obese too indeed. I think Padmini and Saroja Devi were pretty clever because both retired from the movies as soon as they started to loose their market. They knew they would be relegated to do pathetic character roles soon. So did Vyjayanthimala ! She bid adieu to movies when she was at her peak. Padmini quit films in 1971. She went back to America. She did make a comeback in the eighties again. It was due to Fazil’s efforts. Kannadathu Paingili settled at Bangalore. They all lead a peaceful life. But Savitri on the other hand chose to venture into direction side. I suppose she never wanted to quit the industry and wanted be an active part of it always. There was nothing really wrong with her decision. She was obsessed with her profession. But if she really wanted to leave her stamp as a director, she should have opted for unique stories like K.Balachander and made some innovative and challenging films.  I would have appreciated her more had she experimented. She directed five movies and most of  them were remakes. (Praptham – Mooga Manasulu, Kuzhanthai Ullam – Chinnari Pappalu, Chiranjeevi – Neerkumizhi, Vintha Samsaram – Vietnam Veedu.)  She produced her own movies and burnt her hands severely.

The industry did not lend her the much needed support when she was financially in a low position. It did not treat her kindly and did not even respect her talent. It did absolutely nothing to rescue her. How painful would it have been for her to do all those crap mother roles in the C grade movies in Tamil, especially for someone who has always craved to be versatile. Don’t think I’m blaming the Tamil industry alone. The Telugu industry was equally horrible to her. I reiterate how many movies did NTR and ANR work with Savitri in the 70s? Sivaji, NTR and ANR could have at least cast her in the double role subjects. Couldn’t  have they? Its needless to mention about Gemini; but he at least had a valid reason. They were not able to work together because of their personal problems. He did act in the movie Alaudhinum Arputha Vilakkum where she acted as Kamal Hassan’s mother. But both did not appear in any shot together. If you observe attentively the director would have used some editing tricks. Actually, their shots got filmed separately. I don’t have to mention but it was an unbearable movie.  Same goes to “Sivaranjani”, the Sripriya starrer. The reason I bring them here is both did not have any big grudge against each other. Because there was no necessity for Gemini to do those movies.  He could have easily avoided them.

I happened to read an article from Ananda Vikatan dated 29/11/1981 were Sivashankari has written about Savitri’s last days. It was re-published in Ananta Vikatan recently.  It can be found here. For people who have difficulty in understanding/reading Tamil I have provided a rough translation here.

Even though it was depressing to read about it, contrary to some of the media reports it is evident that she did not die because of alcohol addiction.

To conclude the turn-up of events in her life was truly miserable and unfortunate.

Eerie film. Nambiar’s look as a 109 year old man in the second half was utterly terrifying.  The performances by Kalyan Kumar and Devika were good. Just like most of the Sridhar films, the comedy did not appear out of place in this movie too.  (Venniradai is probably the only sridhar film with a boring comedy track!) Manorama’s slang was enjoyable. (நாகேஷை பார்த்து அவர்என்னங்றேன்ன்ன் …’ ஒரு மாதிரி இழுத்து இழுத்து வ்வொறு வார்த்தைக்கும் கடைசியில்ங்க்றேன்போட்டு பேசுவது வித்யாசமாக மட்டும் இல்லாமால் ரசிக்கும் படியும் இருந்தது.) As a kid I was scared to watch both Yaar Nee and Nenjam Marapadhillai. Yaar Nee in particular because it used to be telecast mostly during night in Sun TV. I always saw it alone. So I never managed to watch the complete film and used to switch off in the middle out of fear. அப்பறம் ஒரு நாள் த்தியானம் அந்த படத்தை பார்த்தேனு நினைக்கிறேன். கிளைமாக்ஸ் சப்புனு போச்சு. I felt stupid. இந்த படத்தை பார்க்கவா வ்வளோ பயந்தோம்னு. ன்னா கடைசில பார்த்தால் ஜெயலலிதா பேயே இல்லை. hehe.

I would say all Devika’s good performances were with Sridhar. He brought out the best out of her IMHO!

நெஞ்சம் மறப்பதில்லை, சுமைதாங்கி மற்றும் நெஞ்சில் ஒரு ஆலயம்மூன்று படங்களும் ரொம்ப overact பண்ணாம குறிப்பா ஓவரா கொஞ்சா டிச்ச படம்.

The camerawork is mention-worthy. It adds the right ambiance and mood for the story. The shots  especially where Devika wanders as a spirit in the desolate bungalow was picturized exceptionally well. Unlike the other movies of its time it did not look shoddy.

MSV shares his experiences on working with Sridhar:

இயக்குநர் ஸ்ரீதரும், எம்.எஸ்.வியும் பல வெற்றி படங்கள் இணைந்து பணியாற்றியுள்ளனர்.

மனுஷன் என்னைச் சக்கையாய்ப் பிழிஞ்சு எடுத்துடுவார்‘  என்று நினைவுகளில் மூழ்கிப் போகிறார்.

நெஞ்சம் மறப்பதில்லைஸ்ரீதரின் கற்பனையில் உருவான வித்யாசமான கதை.

பூர்வ ஜென்ம நினைவுகளை மையமாக கொண்ட கதைநெஞ்சம் மறப்பதில்லை‘. படத்தில்டைட்டில் ஸாங்வேண்டும். ‘நெஞ்சம் மறப்பதில்லைஎன்றே பல்லவி இருக்க வேண்டும். ஹான்ட்டிங் ட்யூனில், பாட்டை கேட்பவர் நெஞ்சம் மறக்காதபடி அமையவேண்டும்என்றார் இயக்குநர் ஸ்ரீதர்.

நெஞ்சம் மறப்பதில்லைஎன்ற பல்விக்கு மட்டும்அந்த இரண்டு வார்த்தைகளுக்கு மட்டும் கிட்டத்தட்ட இரனூற்றைம்பது ட்யூன்ளை மாற்றி மாற்றி போட்டு காட்டியிருப்பேன். ஸ்ரீதருக்கு எதுவும் சரிப்பட்டு வரவில்லை. இப்படியே சுமார் ஆறு மாதங்கள் ஓடி விட்டன. மற்ற பாடல்கள் எல்லாம் லிப்பதிவாகி படத்தின் படப் பிடிப்பே முடிந்துவிட்ட மாதிரிதான். இந்த ஒரே ஒரு பாட்டு மட்டுமே பாக்கி. நான் மூளையை கசக்கி கொண்டிருந்தேன்.

ஒரு நாள் திடீரென இந்தப் பாடலுக்கு ஒரு மெட்டு தோன்றியதுஇயக்குநரிடம் பாடிக் காட்டினேன். ‘இதுதான்இதுதான் எனக்கு வேண்டும்என்று மகிழ்ச்சியில் குதித்தார் ஸ்ரீதர்.

ஒளிப்பதிவு செய்தோம். அந்தப் பாட்டு இன்றைக்கும் பிரபலமாக இருக்கிறது என்றால் அதற்க்கு முக்கால் பங்கு காரணம் சுசீலா தான். அவர் அன்றி வேறு யார் அந்தப் பாட்டை பாடியிருந்தாலும் இவ்வளவு சிறப்பாக வந்திருக்காது என்பது என் தனிப்பட்ட கருத்து.

லதா மங்கேஷ்ரை மிகவும் கவர்ந்த பாடல்களில் இந்தப் பாடலும் ஒன்று. இதை அவரே சொல்லியிருக்கிறார்.

P.B.Sreenivas – Nenjam Marapathillai Adhu Ninaivai Ezhapadhillai [Sad version]

An absolutely haunting number. The genius of MSV !

The Title Song was the highlight of the movie. Personally speaking I equally like both the solo and duet version of the title song sung by PBS and P.Suseela.

I’m surprised that MSV has not mentioned anything about the sad duet version with PBS ! His rendition of the song was indeed equally soulful, if not better. =)

Nenjam Marapathillai – Nenjam Marapadhillai Adhu Ninaivai Ezhapadhillai – P.Suseela

The prelude and the humming at the beginning is pure class. Its apparently one of the favorite songs of Lata Mangeshkar.

Nenjam Marapathillai – Azhagukkum Malarukum Jaathi Illai – P.B.Sreenivas & S.Janaki

Beautiful chords towards the end ! PBS said in an interview in Podhigai TV that the sangathis of the song are very difficult to sing.

இதை ஒரு மறுமொழியாக ஒரு நண்பரின் விமர்சனத்தில் கூறியிருந்தேன். ஆனால் அதில் எனக்குப் பிடித்த சிவாஜி படங்கள் பற்றி எழுதவில்லை. ரொம்ப நீண்ட பதிவாக போனதால். I decided to post it as an individual post in my blog.

நான் கொஞ்சம் வேறு பட்ட சிவாஜி fan என்று சொல்லலாம். எனக்குப் பிடிச்ச சிவாஜி படத்தோட பிடிக்காத சிவாஜி படங்கள் தான் அதிகம்.

I don’t tend to like the Sivaji movies that are usually appreciated by masses. Yes, that includes Navarathri, Vietnam Veedu, Gauravam, Vasantha Maligai, Deiva Magan, Amaradeepam, Rajapart Rangathurai, Uyarntha Manithan, Sumathi En Sundari et al.

Also I can’t stand majority of his 70s flicks. I don’t know how many of you would have watched Vasanthathil Oru Naal, the Tamil remake of Gulzar’s Mausam. The original was a true masterpiece. Sharmila Tagore bagged National Award for her double role in the movie. ஸ்ரீபிரியாவும் அவரும் சேர்ந்து படு கொலை செஞ்சுருப்பாங்க அந்தப் படத்தை. குல்ஸாரைப் பிடித்து உதைக்கணும் ரீமேக் ரைட் கொடுத்ததற்கு! ): The relationship between Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila(young) in Mausam was so touching, even though she is not born to him….. he wants to save her from the red light area and goes out of his way to set her life straight. They completely changed the plot and messed up the whole movie.  The boat sequence were Sivaji and Sripriya make out was plain gross. Ewwww! Why should they change the  younger character as his daughter and what was the need of foreign locales?

Navarathiri – இந்தப் படத்தில் உண்மையிலேயே எனக்குப் பிடிச்ச ஒரே விஷயம் சாவித்திரியோட தார்த்தமான நடிப்பு மட்டும் தான். She effortlessly stole the show. Sivaji tried way too hard in my opinion. I won’t really rate it as one of his best. As I personally believe he has churned out far better performances than Navarathri.

Vietnam Veedu – தாங்க முடியாத கொடுமையான overacting. I really end up with a headache whenever I attempt to watch this movie. No kidding.

I found him loud and OTT. His body language, articulation, expressions – everything spelled exaggeration. I’m a Brahmin myself. Iyengar to be precise. But I have a huge circle of family friends who are Iyers. Nobody talks like the way Sivaji does in the movie in real life. His dialogue delivery just did not come across very natural. Padmini seemed relatively comfortable with the Brahmin dialect. After her I think it was Sridevi who spoke the accent so perfectly. She did a good job in Meendum Kokila. (Both the actresses were not brahmins!)

Gauravam – Ditto! வியட்நாம் வீடு அளவுக்கு கொடுமையில்லை; இருந்தாலும் கொடுமை தான். Heard Gemini was the first choice for the role. But since he was already getting ridiculed as Sambhar he chose to stay away from Brahmin subjects and suggested Sivaji for the role. I don’t know how far its true. He might have probably done a better job. The story was not anything extraordinary though.

Pathi Bhakthi – விதவை கோலத்தில் இருக்கும் சாவித்திரிதான் தன்னுடைய அக்கா மகள் என்று உணரும் காட்சி. புரண்டு அழுவாரே ! அப்பா height of overacting! கிளைமாக்ஸ் காட்சியைப் பற்றி சொல்லவே வேண்டாம்; unintentional காமெடிதான். இந்த படம் நிச்சயமா ஓடியிருக்க வாய்பே இல்லைனு நினைச்சேன். Bhimsingh launched his own production company Buddha pictures with Pathi Bhakthi and MSV was one of the partners. I read in the book “Mellisai mannar M.S.V” that it was an average hit. எப்படி இந்த மாதிரி படமெல்லாம் அந்த காலத்தில் ஓடிச்சுனு எனக்கு உண்மையாகவே வியப்பாக இருந்தது.

Paava Mannippu – பிடித்த படம். ஆனால் ஏனோ எம்.ஜி.ஆர் படம் பார்ப்பது போலவே இருக்கும். =P

Pennin Perumai – Blah film!  Sivaji played a negative character in the movie, but his performance failed to impress me. The original telugu version Ardhangi was better. Both ANR and Jagayya did a good job.

Iru Dhuruvam The casting was perfect but made very late. It was remake of Ganga Jamuna (1961). The Hindi film is a shining example of Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala chemistry. Vyjayanthimala won Best Actress from filmfare for the film. It was home production of Dilip Kumar. He helped her to speak Bhojpuri dialect and she got wide appreciation. The film had great songs by Naushad. It was remade 10 years late in Tamil. It was the main reason for it’s failure. Both Padmini and Sivaji looked quite old in the film. If it was made in early 60s it might have tasted success. Because they are well known for their chemistry too.

Sivagamiyin Selvan – I think is one of his worst too. I do not want to compare the movie with Aradhana. Because I did not like Aradhana in first place.  I thought the scenes involving him and Lata especially were horrendous.

Also I’m personally no fan of Amitabh Bachchan ! But Sivaji should have seriously avoided starring in Tamil remakes of AB films. Big B did movies which suited his “Angry young man” image; there were very few stories that were an exception… either way Sivaji was way too old at that point of time to do those movies. He was pathetic in them.

He should have been choosier in accepting assignments after 1975 and should have done just two or three quality films that had ample scope to exhibit his talent.

Punniya Bhoomi – The movie was a disaster at box office. An extremely bad remake of a cult classic film “Mother India”. Sivaji couldn’t match Sunil Dutt’s performance. It was remade nearly after 20 years in Tamil. The problem with our Tamil matinee idols is they want to dominate the whole screen time. It is important for an actor to choose roles that suit his age. Sunil Dutt was the first angry young man of India. He got the title from Mother India. He must have been 17 or 18 years old during that film. If they wanted to remake the film in Tamil they should have chosen three good actors for the characters enacted by Rajkumar, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar. But what did they do?! They turned Rajkumar and Sunil Dutt’s characters as double role just for Sivaji. He was too old for the second son role. Period. MGR did the same thing in Yaadon Ki Bharat. He turned the subject into double role. If am not wrong Dharmendra did not even have a pair in the original. Zeenat Aman was cast opposite Vijay Arora. MGR did not have confidence in himself like Dharmendra. Say a 50s film was remade in 1978 with Savitri, Padmini or Saroja Devi as heroine playing a very young character. Would they be accepted?! Even if they have given a sparkling performance, they would have been criticized as too old for the character. The heroes including Rajinikanth believe they are evergreen like “Maarkandeyan”. A film can earn classic status by complete team work only. It cannot always be a one man show. It was realized by very few Tamil directors!

Another major reason why I dislike his 70s films is.. சிவாஜி படத்தில் ஓவராக்டிங் பண்ணாருண்னா, TMS அவரை match செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று பாட்டுல ஓவராக்ட் பண்ணி கொல்லுவார். இந்த trend கிட்ட தட்ட late 60sலயே ஆரம்பித்து விட்டது. (‘யாரை நம்பி நான் பிறந்தேன்‘, ‘தெய்வமே தெய்வமே‘, ‘யாருக்காக இது யாருக்காக’, ‘அந்த நாள் ஞாபகம்’, சோதனை மேல் சோதனை’ சில உதாரணங்கள்!)

But I still reckon Sivaji as the greatest actor to ever grace Tamil cinema. நடிகர்களைப் பொருத்த வரைக்கும் அவரையும் சஞ்சீவ் குமாரையும் தான் என்னுடய favorite என்று சொல்வேன்!

Well, I admire his work with B.R.Banthulu, Bhimsingh and APN.

The following are not necessarily my favorite movies, but which I rather enjoyed just for the performances.

Kappalotiya Thamizhan – He was brilliant. He was in fact the only saving grace of the movie. His performance was nearly flawless… there was no overacting whatsoever. அவர்க்குப் பதிலாக S.V.Subbiah, SVR, Asokan மற்றும் Balaji போட்டி போட்டு கொண்டு overact செஞ்சுருப்பாங்க. SVR எனக்கு ரொம்ப பிடித்த நடிகர், ஆனால் இந்த படத்தில் அவருடைய accent படு கொடுமை. The supporting cast were awful. SVR அசோகனையெல்லாம் ஆங்கிலேயர்களாக போட்டால், அந்த கொடுமையை என்னவென்று சொல்வது ! KT is not really that great of a classic as it is made out to be. The music by G.Ramanathan and Sivaji’s performance are the reason why it has withstood the test of time.

Sabash Meena, Arivali, Galatta Kalyanam etc – I thought he proved his mettle for comedy.

Paarthal Pasi Theerum – A lot of people feel he underplayed his character in the movie. அவர் ரொம்ப அடக்கி வாசிச்ச படம்னு சொல்வாங்க. என்னை கேட்டால் அவ்வளவு தான் தேவை. அதுக்கு மேல போச்சுன்னா கண்டிப்பா ஓவர் ஆக்டிங்காக தான் போயிருக்கும். Also I loved his look in the movie.

Deivapiravi – Performance-wise I think its one of the best film for both Padmini and Sivaji. கிளைமாக்ஸ் மட்டும் எதார்த்தமாகப் படவில்லை எனக்கு. When AVM decided to remake the film in Hindi(Bindiya), Sivaji had warned them that the film does not have a strong storyline but for his, Padmini and SSR’s acting the movie would not have done well at the B.O. He advised them to not remake it in Hindi. But they ignored him and went ahead remaking it with Balraj Sahni and Padmini. The movie failed miserably in Hindi. AVM Saravanan regretted about it in Jaya TV’s Thirumbi Parkiren for not listening to him.

Karnan – Although the movie did not portray Karnan’s negative traits. He is not really a flawless human as portrayed in the movie. He is said to have supported Draupadi’s humiliation etc. But Karnan was undeniably a great epic. I quite liked his performance and the movie had a gem of a soundtrack. சிவாஜி, சாவித்திரி, தேவிகா மூவருமே சிறப்பாக நடித்திருந்தார்கள். In fact apart from Asokan and M.V.Rajamma, the actress who played Kunthi in the movie everyone’s performance was fairly good in the movie.

Thillana Mohanambal – பத்மினியும் சிவாஜியும் போட்டி போட்டு கொண்டு நடித்த படம். A timeless classic. Both Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini excel in well-etched roles, they both were ‘equally’ top-notch. Its a must watch for anyone who loves quality cinema. A splendid blend of music and dance, supported by percussion. Each and every single character manages to leave an impact in their respective parts. The casting was just perfect! Its definitely one of the best wholesome entertainer ever made.

Kai Kodutha Deivam – If there are two actors who can make a KSG movie watchable, it has to be Sivaji and Savitri. (viz. Kai Kodutha Deivam and Karpagam)
He makes literally anyone overact. ஆயிரத்தில் ஒருத்தியம்மா பாடலில்லயே எஸ்.எஸ்.ஆரின்மிகை நடிப்புசும்மா மின்னும்! ;-)

Bhagapirivinai – I think is one of his most enduring performance. The songs were an absolute delight to listen.

Motor Sundaram Pillai – இந்த படத்தைப் பற்றி என்னுடைய கருத்துகள் இங்கே. மோட்டார் சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை மற்றும் பார் மகளே பார் ஆகிய திரைப்படங்கள், வயதுக்கு மீறிய கதாபாத்திரம் ஏற்று சிவாஜி நடித்த படங்கள். அதில் எனக்குப் பிடித்த படம் மோட்டார் சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை.

Veerapandiya Kattabomman – A pretty loud performance but the character demanded it.

Ambikapathy – He acted well. But Bhanumathy’s overacting ruined the movie for me.

Pasa Malar – Sivaji and Savitri’s performance is exactly what makes this movie worth a watch.

Padikkatha Methai – The movie was remake of a Telugu film Athma Bandhuvu. I generally detest remakes, but this is a rare exception. Great movie!(If you exclude the climax and the scene where Sivaji and Kannamba bawl together after SVR’s death!) I adored his performance in the movie.

Thiruvarutselvar –  I loved his portrayal of Appar in particular. Sivaji said in an interview that he had just imitated Kanchi Shankaracharya for the role. அவர் சொல்லி தான் எனக்கே உண்மையாக தெரியும்!! I think there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation, one needs to watch this movie to understand it. =)

Thiruvilayadal – எனக்குப் பிடித்த இன்னொரு படம். I disliked Saraswathi Sabatham and Kandhan Karunai, both the films were so mediocre. I don’t think they deserve to be hits but both ironically ran well. Kulamagal Radhai, Vilaiyattu Pillai, Vadivukku Valai kappu and Guru Dakshanai are other APN – Sivaji combo movies I did not like.

Paava Mannippu – நான் ஏற்கனவே சொன்ன மாதிரி எனக்குப் பிடித்த படம். ஆனா எம்.ஜி.ஆர் படம் பார்ப்பது போலவே இருக்கும். கதை அப்படி! I think the story was more suited for MGR. ஆனா சிவாஜியோட நடிப்பு ஒண்ணும் குறை சொல்லும்படி இருக்காது.

I don’t remember movies like “Mangayar Thilagam” well enough to comment on his performance. Haven’t watched them in ages. I got hold of the VCD of Iruvar Ullam finally, but the film failed to impress me. The music was good though.

Other movies…

Iru Malargal – Iru Malargal is hands-down my FAV Padmini – Sivaji starrer ever! Even though the first half of the movie has some extremely dumb scenes. Padmini got on my nerves. The romantic scenes were silly to say the least, they make you cringe. But she was impeccable in the second half. She excels in the intense scenes and her chemistry with Sivaji was so evident. They make such a perfect couple. *sigh* Her eyes truly speak volumes in her movies with Sivaji! Its definitely one of my all time fav performance of Padmini alongside Thillana Mohanambal, Deivapiravi and Poove Poochudava.

Pudhiya paravai – Remake of ‘Chase a crooked shadow’. He was not only style personified, but also acted damn well in the movie. The twist at the end was completely unpredictable.

Andha Naal – Yet to watch it.

Pathi Bakthi, Bandha Pasam, Pazhani, Paaladai and Paadhukaapu – சிவாஜி பீம்ஸிங் இயக்கத்தில் நடித்த எனக்கு பிடிக்காத படங்கள்.

படித்தால் மட்டும் போதுமா சின்ன வயசில் பார்த்த போது ரொம்ப பிடித்திருந்தது. இப்போது பார்த்தால் அவ்வளவு பிடிக்கவில்லை. ஆரூர் தாசின் வசனங்கள் குறிப்பாக இயல்பாக அமையாதது இந்த படத்தின் மிக பெரிய குறை. I found them so corny.

பச்சை விளக்கு கூட கொஞ்சம் சுமார் தான். But the songs were wonderful.

Shanthi and Senthamarai – Have not watched them.

Thanga Pathakkam – Sivaji and Srikanth literally carried the movie on their shoulders. Had it not been for their acting I don’t think the movie would have been watchable. I wish Premila and K.R.Vijaya were not part of the cast because both ham like hell through out the movie. Sivaji had a great look in the movie and acted really well. But he did go OTT in a couple of sequences like “The twinkle twinkle little star” scene in the end after he shoots Srikanth and the scene where Srikanth pretends that he never made the phone call. Damn, the way he reacts to it! Also, the song Sodhanai Mel Sodhanai should have been avoided.

Andavan Kattalai – The movie is known for its sublime songs. I have mixed feelings abt the performances of Sivaji and Devika in this film. Both were good in parts but also completely OTT in several scenes. Like the inner turmoil he goes through when he falls in love with Devika, his expressions in the song Azhage Vaa Aruge Vaa (plain disgusting) could have been really handled better.  As for Devika her konjal was quite annoying in the first half.

Mudhal Mariyadhai and Devar Magan – He gave a finely modulated performance in both the movies. Kudos to Bharathiraja for directing him so well. He should have done more such characters that suited his age.