Song of the Day: pOtri paadadi poNNE from Devar Magan.
- Song of the Day hits # 600! Thanks to all of you for your kind support!
- Sung by Sunderrajan, Mano and Kalaivaanan. Music by Ilayaraja. Lyrics by Vaali.
I took out and looked at the cassette that I had bought when Devar Magan's music originally came out. The price was 29 Rupees, by AVM Audio. The credits don't mention Ilayaraja as a singer for this song. I think I bought the cassettes of Devar Magan and Pandiyan together; my Pandiyan cassette was dumped long time ago.
Devar Magan was a milestone in Tamil Film History. Few films had the scope and the depth that Devar Magan had. Kamalhasan once mentioned that writing Devar Magan was equivalent to writing a couple of novels. The story was an epic and would probably go down as the best one that Kamal ever wrote.
On paper, the story looks like one that could have been split into 2-3 films. A history of feud between brothers, a son who has left the village and has become alien to its sentiments, a love affair between the son and an urban girl, rising tensions between the two families, death of the father and the son's ascension to the throne, the sacrifice of his love, his coming to terms with his new naive wife, his desire for an egalitarian social setup and to get rid of the feudal landscape, the sabotage of the village ceremony and the final climax.. phew! These are subjects that are worth a detailed look over several films. The bane of Tamil cinema, as always, is to cramp as many subjects as possible into one film, thereby losing its focus. Our films throw the concept of a three-act structure out of the window and easily run into seven or eight acts. Devar Magan falls for this as well. As a result, we end up with a sprawling, long film. That it still managed to keep the attention of the viewer is really a big achievement of the film.
BTW, did I mention an initial fight to show off that the hero knows how to fight, a song praising him as a "thamizhachi paal kudichchavan" and a struggle over a temple that is claimed by both families, a tale of an ineffective police unable to do anything without witnesses?
Devar Magan has given some of the most memorable scenes in tamil movies. The scene featuring Sivaji Ganesan and Kamal where Sivaji tries to persuade Kamal to stay back, with rain falling on the background, was one of the best scenes featuring Sivaji in a long time. The close-up side shot of Kamal and Nasser warning each other has been done over and over in several films. A simple shot of Revathi feeling a tickle and thinking that it was Kamal only to realize that it was not him but a strand of flowers in her first night, was such a poetic way of portraying the situation. Good films boast a couple of great scenes. Devar Magan had at least half a dozen.
Devar Magan had a good acting and technical ensemble that elevated the film. It was Sivaji Ganesan's best role in quite a while, no over the top acting that Sivaji was known for, a role that made us feel bad about how the tamil film industry wasted such a talented actor. Nasser stood up and even stole a few scenes from Kamal. Gowthami played her part very well. It was Revathi's performance that I didn't quite agree with. She won the best supporting actress national award for her role, but I thought it was an amateurish caricature of a simple village girl. Every scene with Revathi seemed to tell me that she was consciously portraying a naive girl. It was not a natural performance. Thalaivasal Vijay, Kaakkaa Radhakrishnan, Vadivelu, S.N.Lakshmi, even Sangili Murugan and Madan Bob did well. Renuka went unnoticed in her role as Thalaivasal Vijay's wife, till she hit big time with her TV serials.
It is hard to say what Bharathan contributed to the film. In Kamal's films, the directors are usually dummies, but Bharathan was not a pushover either. There were stories of a rift between Kamal and Bharathan during the filming. The life behind the visuals was P.C.Sreeram. He has said in countless interviews that he wanted to portray the color of the earth, a brown motif, for the movie. Ilayaraja's music was one of his finest. In a film where the songs could have easily been the the ones to drag the film down, inji iduppazhagi and pOtrip paadadi poNNE turned out to be classics.
pOtrip paadadi poNNE is one of my favorite songs. The prelude and the first interlude were probably his best. I distinctly remember the first time I heard the song. I listened to the pallavi and then thought, "No way these voices would go on for the entire song, SPB would clearly take over after the pallavi". I was proven wrong, and that was the best decision for the song. Just as the first interlude starts, the village women wading through red chillies on brown earth in slow motion, was the best piece of editing to go along with the music, since the jump of sheep synchronized to the music in "azhagiya kaNNE". The only sore point in the rustic song is the "ding dong dOi" that somehow doesn't sound like what the folks would really sing like.
- SOTD #500 : uLLamellaam thaLLaadudhE from dhoorathu idi muzhakkam.
- SOTD #400 : paadum pOthu naan thendral kaaRRu from nEtru indru naaLai, madai thirandhu from nizhalgaL.
- SOTD #300 : chinna chinna aasai from Roja.
- SOTD # 200 : thendral vandhu theeNdum pOdhu from avathaaram.
SOTD # 100 went unnoticed :)