K Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal (1975)
Righting the wrong through emotions
It is a common practice to tell that Old is Gold but in the movie industry there is a separate category which lives for years and remains a model for the posterity. That is called Classic movies which readily fit in every element of it. For creating classic movies a director must be efficient to stand at the time and to win the time so that his work will be slated on history. Though Tamil movie industry has produced many good, quality and successful films in all these years there are certain classic movies. The credit must go to those directors who have crafted such movies thereby bringing laurels to themselves and to the entire industry. Of the classical directors which the Tamil movie industry produced, K Balachander is of a kind of his own and there is always a pride of place for him.
In his early phase of career, he was a staunch believer of story and screenplay aided by the relevant cast. He had his own formula to feed the Tamil movies and he succeeded in that task much more than others. In the 70s and 80s whatever movie he gave became instant hit and there was an eagerness among the audience to watch his subsequent movies. What made him more classical are his treatment of characters derived from real life and punch on the society through venomous dialogues and above all, his serious approach to even a less significant theme. In the series of his classical movies, Apoorva Raagangal was a stand alone movie which cannot be bracketed with any other similar movie till now.
Tamil cinema would have witnessed dangerous and even immoral themes to its list and the audience too might have given mixed responses. But things become surprising when a strange theme is given boldly from the controversial approach. This is what happened when KB directed this Apoorva Raagangal.
Audience is ready to watch a movie which can portray immoral or extra-marital affairs among human beings. But what could be the judgment if an adolescent falling in love with his nursing lady, who. Even in every decade a movie on similar theme comes in almost all languages. But what made Apoorva Raagangal to such a classy theme was KB’s inert exposure of the lust of a young mind.
Apoorva Raagangal was the suitable title for the movie by which KB hinted the ragas to each of the characters. The main cast included Kamalhassan (Prasanna) , Srividya, (Bairavi) and the climax hero is none other than Rajnikanth(Abaswaram). Major Sundarrajan, Jeyasudha(Ranjani from Sivaranjani ragam) and Nagesh added momentum to the cast.
The story was a carefully woven surrounding few prominent characters and the treatment too was in tact. Kamal Hassan as Prasanna faces lot of confrontation with his unreasoning father and leaves home to have a secluded life for his own. In the process, he is left to be taken care of his health by Bairavi (Srividya) as he has got no good terms with his father Major Sundarrajan who lives without his wife. Kamal Hassan’s longing for Srividya finds a solution with the marriage despite her early affection to a man whose whereabouts are unknown.
Simultaneously Major Sundarrajan who gives refuge to the deserted Jeyasudha, proposes to marry her who is almost as old as his son Kamal. The climax gets the lightening twist with the arrival of Srividya’s past pal Rajnikanth in a shabby look with well grown beard and the cat comes out with the fact that Jeyasudha is none other than Srividya’s daughter!. What intricacy would come is left to the senses of the audience. KB exposed this interwoven complexity through the feelings and emotions of each character.
Kamal Hassan portrayed his character in all sort of excellence and perfection. It can be said he lived the character as a lusty youth wooing Srividya. His acumen in justifying his love (lust) for her is beyond debate and much can be discussed about that. But the fact remains that KB intended to shape such a psychic sick character which was largely prevalent in any society. KB should be appreciated for maintaining the cultural constraint and avoiding any sort of obscenity in any form in the movie. But the parallel axis of the movie fell on the ageing melodrama between Major Sundarrajan as Kamal Hassan’s father to have the better half in Jeyasudha.
As usual, Kannadasan and MS Viswanathan combination contributed much to the success of this movie and made the hit more plausible. In every movie of that time this pair would make KB’s work easy by relegating necessary songs to suit the situations. To be more specific MSV had had very tough times to convince Kannadasan for lyrical fitness to the tunes. Since the movie was strewn to be the ragas-based one, songs were to be more effective and core to the theme.
This was one of the best movies to speak volumes of Kannadasan’s lyrical expertise as evident in at least three songs, Kelviyin Nayagane Intha Kelvikku Pathil Ethayya where the first word will give two meanings – Kelviyin Nayagane (indicating the hero of the problem) and Kel Vinagyane ( indicating the Lord Ganesh); Yelu Swarangalukkul Ethanai Padal, Ithaya Churangathul Ethanai Kelvi by the magnetic voice of Vani Jeyaram and the sumptuous classic rendering by Jesudoss in Athisaya Ragam Aananda Ragam- the entire song is the description of the beauty of a fair lady. The last saranam in this song will be crucial as the narration of various ragas will end up with the name of the teacher Bairavi ( Muluvathum Parthal Aval Oru Bairavi). So far no song has been written nor tuned like this one and the song is the best remedy for getting peace when on mental crisis.
The song is ideal for late night listening since Jesudoss’ mild rendition will make us prevail in the heavenly atmosphere. Kai Kotti sirippargal Oorar Sirippargal by Sheik Mohammed is a fast number to mock at the unfair relationship between the opposite aged pairs – Kamal Hassan and Srividya on one side and Major Sundarrajan and Jeyasudha on the other hand. Apoorva Raagangal is one of the few movies which have major prudence to realism than cinematic factors.
The maiden movie for the superstar Rajnikanth who will make appearance at the climax.
- Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award for Kamal Hassan
- Best Playback Singer (Female) Vani Jairam
- Best Film of the Year – 1975