Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thiruvilayadal (Tamil – 1965)

The Divine Sports The gem of Tamil Mythological Film                                                                           

The origin of Indian film movies were based on mythological stories, like Raja Harichandra, Panjaali. It was then common for all the languages to follow the same mythological films in their early years. Movie production ran into years, which paved the way for big studios to come-up with huge sets, this was at 1930’s – 40’s – 50’s. But in the later part of the 50’s with India becoming an independent nation, more social oriented films sprang up, especially in the South with the upliftment of Dravidian priciples. The entry of stars like MGR and Shivaji, with the exit of singer-actors MKT-PU Chinnapa, Tamil cinema moved more into social-oriented subjects, like rich-poor centric, family centric, crime-thriller, romance and sometimes even ghost-horror. Even though MGR was initially got into cinema, with the mythological roles, he didn’t get much of similar roles later, but Shivaji was a juggernaut in picking different roles.

“Thiruvilayadal”, The Divine Sport, is one such film by Shivaji (see the pic on right) directed by AP Nagarajan, who was famous for his mythological and devotional subjects. Shivaji later on went to do more such kind of films like Saraswathi Sabadam, Thiruvarulchelver, Kandan Karunai, but this film was a gem of the Tamil Mythological films.

The story was conceived by AP Nagarajan, he wrote the screenplay as a five part play, the stories were taken from an ancient Tamil epic, Thriuvilayadal Puranam, which consists of 64 stories, written by 64 nayanmargal ( Saivate devotees, like 12 disciples of Jesus, these Saivates were the devotees of Lord Shiva).
From the film: Shiva (Shivaji), Parvathi (Savithri), with their sons Vinayaka and Murugan

For those who don’t know about Hindu gods, here it is. A Hindu always falls in two broad categories, Saivate (Saivam) and Vaishnav (Vaishnavam). Saivate’es follows, Lord Shiva and his family and followers, like Parvathi, Muruga, Vinayaka and others. Some of Saivate famous temples are Kasi, Rishikesh, Rameshvaram and Thanjavur. Vaishnav’s follow Vishnu and incarnations, like Krishna, Rama and others, some of the famous temples are Puri, Thirupathi and Thiruchi. At earlier age, crusades were fought between these two sects, even now some hard core followers of this principle prevent themselves in entering to the opposite camp’ temple.

Part 1: Coming back to the film, it follows the Saivate concept and Shiva (Father), Parvathi(Mother), and their two sons Muruga and Vinayak are focused. The last four parts is narrated by Parvathi to her son Muruga in the first part when he is having a conflict with his parents. She says it’s a habit of Shiva to test his devotees by putting them into unusual kind of situation.

Famous Dharumi Scene
Part 2: This of the famous and most widely seen, infact I have to say, most widely heard part. When I say “heard”, there is a small flashback to be told, back in 1980’s-90’s when the temples around Tamil Nadu used the sound system, especially in the month of Adi, almost all the temples used to broadcast (loud) the sound-recording of this film, esp this part early in the morning, with the usual devotional songs. So then most of the dialogues are well known to the people. The story revolves around a poor-poet named Dharumi (Nagesh), who is helped by Shiva (Shivaji) to win a prize money, in the process Shiva argues with the great-tamil-poet Nakkeran (AP Nagarajan, the director), these scene is were Shiva makes the third-eye to appear in his forehead and burns the poet.

Part 5: I would go straight to Part 5, not that 3 and 4 are important, but Part 5 is where the real action takes plays, it’s were the most of the songs are placed and each are sung by the stalwarts of the Indian music, like TR Mahaligam, TMS and the legendary Balamurali Krishna. Also this part is where some of the great performance made by Shivaji and Balaiya.

The story goes like this, Hemanatha Bhagavathar (Balaiya) is a world acclaimed singer, who visits Madurai. (Song 1) He sings in Madurai Tamil Sangam (Ancient Tamil literary society) he is arrogant and challenges for one-on-one in singing. Unable to compete with him the Sangam-Singers withdraws, the king then by compulsion appoints Banabatar (TR Mahalingam), a simple guy who sings in temple to compete against Hemanatha Bhagavathar.  (Song 2) Banabatar unable to find a way out prays to Shiva. Here Shiva (Shivaji) enters the scene as a woodcutter and sings (Song 3) to teach a lesson for the arrogant Hemanatha Bhagavathar.

Song 1: "Oru Naal Pothuma" (Is one day enough for me to sing) sung by Balaiya in film (voice by Balamurali Krishna)

Song 2: "Isai Tamil Nee Seitha Arum Saadhanai"  (Your “shiva” works in musical tamil is great) sung by T.R.Mahalingam himself as Banabattar

Song 3: "Paattum Naanae, Baavamum Naanae" (I am the song, I am the expression) sung by Shivaji in film (Voice by T.M. Soundararajan)

Also featuring in the film is K. P Sundarambal, who was first actress in the olden days to get paid One Lakh in a movie. She is synonymous to role of the ancient-poetess Ovvaiyar.

It’s a must watch for grand costumes, good performances and the music by KV Mahadevan.

TMS and BalaMurali
Listed is the Youtube video of all three songs,

Song 1: Oru Naal Poduma - Balamurali Krishna

Song 2: Isai Tamil Nee Seitha Arum Saadhanai - T.R.Mahalingam

Song 3: Paattum Naanae, Baavamum Naanae - T.M. Soundararajan

Check this for entire movie with English Sub-Titles

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Before The Rains (UK, India, 2009)

The film set in Kerala, being his native and a reputed cinematographer himself takes advantage of the scenic views of the gods-own-country.


Santosh Sivan
This film was recommended by Prasanna, a budding Tamil FilmMaker in his Film Workshop. Its a Merchant Ivory Production, as usual for the production house the story is set in British Raj, directed an ace cinematographer-turned-director Santhosh Sivan. The film is set in mostly in English and Malayalam, with little bit of Tamil, irrespective of multi-languages the film turns well, as Santhosh has well horned his directorial skills in depicting visually.

Morres, TK and Sajani
TK Nelan (Rahul) a futuristic and rational thinking person, works for Morres (Linus) a British Civil Officer, Sajani (Nanditha Das) works as a maid. Morres a married man indulges in affair with Sajani. Their love-life is disturbed by the entry of Morres’wife Jennifer. Meanwhile Sajani is experiencing humiliation with her husband Rajat, as the grapevine gossip of her affair circles in the village. One night after severe beating from Rajat, Sajani takes shelter with Morres, unable to keep her, he asks Nelan to take her somewhere as this situation will jeopardise his family life and the work ambition to build road. But Sajani returns, comes to know about the ill-love of Morres with her and kills herself. The both hide her body, Nelan is then thrown in between loyalty to his employer and his village laws. Which path he chooses?
Scenic View of Kerala

Incidentally the film draws inspiration from an Israeli Movie Red Roofs. In fact Sivan took the theme and fitted in the 1930 backdrop of British India.

Colorful costumes

The film set in Kerala, being his native and a reputed cinematographer himself takes advantage of the scenic views of the gods-own-country. Some of the visuals are stunning and one can never believe it’s in India. With the colourful settings and some bright costumes, its feast for the eyes. The film was released in India in August 2009. I haven’t seen it running in any cinema hall. The film lacks pace, but it is well-made.

Trailer of Before The Rains

Friday, September 2, 2011

Irom Sharmila

Last week we saw nationwide agitation in support to Anna Hazare, we even had both parliament houses debating for this movement, which ended the 11-day fast by Anna. Meantime there is a small piece of news keep emerging about a lady, in fact she is called as an Iron Lady, Irom Sharmila from Manipur fasting for past 11 year, and yes you read it correctly its YEARS. The government has put her in to tube feeding, using Nasogastric intubation.
Many are trying to draw parallel between Irom and Anna. Both are social activist, but fighting for a different cause, even though both are in India, the environment they live is different. Irom from the North East State of Manipur, is fighting for cause which is threating the daily existence of the people. Anna is much broader sense, covering a wide area of corruption. Irom is for the basic need of a human, survival, which is much more important than corruption. End of the day if one doesn’t live, it’s “The END”.
On November 2000, ten civilians were shot dead by the Armed forces, those people were innocent civilians standing in the bus stop. Since then Irom Sharmila started the fasting, her primary demand is to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in short this act gives absolute power to Armed Forces. Then she was jailed as “attempt to suicide” and started to force feed.

She can’t travel freely across India. So she can’t garner any national momentum. In fact she tried to go to Jantar Mantar in 2006 and was arrested.

The entire North East (AP, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) with J&K comes under AFSPA. Red Cross has mentioned there are severe human rights violations in these areas. Check the wikeleaks cables.

The people in these areas were so much humiliated that a group of women went naked before the Armed Rifles base in protesting the atrocities.
As usual a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Jeevan Reedy, a retd. Supreme Court judge, and as usual the recommendations by the committee is still kept dark. I can’t understand why government is trying to use excess of force, when they need to lend olive branches to win the people heart. They are trying to seed fear, which in turn will grow as anger. It’s also an irony that our PM hailing from the same region hasn’t done enough. Remember these states are sharing its borders to China. Why let these people down, when the dragon is next door.
Do you know, petrol a litre costs Rs 180, cooking gas Rs. 1500 and a KG of Rice Rs. 60, where? Read this..
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