The Sridevi – Kamal Haasan combination in Malayalam Cinema

Kamal Haasan and Sreedevi in Pattabhishekam (1982)

Though the Kamal Haasan – Sridevi duo was a sure-shot combination that set the Tamil Box-office on fire, the results weren’t the same when it came to Kerala. Being a  formula that had ensured the success in  the neighboring state, it was a business proposition  begging to be replicated all over South to wring out the maximum out from the marquees and Malayalam was no exception.

Of the 4 movies (that I know of ) that they appeared together in the period of 1976-77 (remember the hurry to make money 🙂 ), and one in 1982 – Kuttavum Shikshayum (1976) directed by M Masthan was a remake of the Tamil movie Pennai Nambungal (1973) directed by BV Srinivasan. Nirakudom (1977) was the Malayalam version of the classic Tamil hit, Bhagapirivinai (1959) which was remade as Khandan in 1965. Premabhishekam (1982) was the dubbed version of  the Tamil production Vazhve Maayam (1982) directed by R Krishnamoorthy. Strangely, the duo, in my opinion, failed to re-create the magic across the border, in a language they were both proficient in not rising more than the average curiosity levels . The way I see it, in one year, they overwhelmed you with 5 productions in five different ways to see whether atleast one would get it right ! 🙂

Kuttavum Sikshayum (1976)

Kuttavum Shikshayum was the remake of the AVM Rajan starrer Pennai Nambungal (1973), directed by BV Sreenivasan. Kamal Haasan played the role of the dutiful son played by Siva Kumar in the original, trying to unite his estranged parents, and Sridevi played his love interest. Trying hard to be a formula entertainer and trying to spin the movie around the hit-pair, it was reasonable disaster at both ends as I remember. Come to think of it, the title was a direct lift off from Dostoevsky’s classic 😛 . More the movie, the songs were what made the experience memorable, set to music by MS Viswanathan, notable amongst them has to be the melodious Malarilum Manasilum, sung by Vani Jayaram and Swayamvarathirunal Rathri sung by KJ Yesudas.

Here is Swayamvarathirunal Rathri sung by KJ Yesudas.

Satyavan Savithri (1977)

I still find it puzzling as to the reason behind a project of this kind undertaken by a director like PG Vishwambharan at a time when Malayalam cinema was looking beyond the staple diet of mythological dramas and gaudy overkills ( Hey, our Vadakkan Pattukal from Udaya and Navodaya too came out in regular intervals, unabated, but then again its a different ballgame altogether, and these two surprisingly didn’t feature in any one of those!) . Satyavan Saavithri was the story of ummm..Satyavaan and Saavithri, taken from the Aaranyakaand in the Mahabharata. The story was about the unflinching, steadfast love and devotion of a wife for her husband that transcened even the prospect of death, to the point where she manages to bring back her husband, born with a terminal curse, to life, impressing even Yamadharma, the Lord of Death.

Suffice to say, the duo played the leading parts and to me it was an absolute delight for the fact that there is this fabulous dance by the princess Savithri in the Royal Court which is beyond words. (Minai, THAT is coming up right away in an exhaustive post 🙂  ). If only they had one composition where the two showed off their amazing dancing talent in a love-duet-cum-duel 🙂 ! The movie had some amazing songs, set to music by G Devarajan. The lyrics were by Sreekumaran Thampi.

Here is Neelambujangal Virinju from Satyavaan Savithri (1977).

Nirakudam (1977)

Nirakudam (1977)
Pix Courtesy : MSI

Nirakudam was again the remake of the Tamil hit Bhagapirivinai (1959) which was remade into the Sunil Dutt-Nutan starrer Khandan in 1965. A.Bhimsingh who directed the Hindi version directed the Malayalam remake too. The story was about a family divided and a brother’s sacrifice for his elder brother. Kamal Haasan played the crippled younger brother which is considered one of his best roles in his early career. The young Sridevi played his life partner. This was also one of the handful of movies that Surasu wrote the screenplay, and one of the two movies of his where  the brothers duo Jaya-Vijaya composed the music. The song compositions added to the heavy melodrama and my favorite amongst all would be Nakshathra deepangal Thilangi, lyrics by Bichu Thirumala.

Here is Nakshathra Deepangal Thilangi from Nirakudam (1977).

Asheervaadam (1977)

According to the database available  at MSI, IV Sasi directed 12 movies in 1977, that’s an average release of 1 movie every month, AND 9 out of the 12 movies had titles starting with the alphabet “A” ! This was one of them in the prolific production rate he maintained in 1977, and it was ‘incidental’ that it starred Sridevi and Kamal Haasan – I’m sure he couldn’t have cared less 🙂 .  The script was by Sherif, who had been with IV Sasi since his first movie Ulsavam (1975).  This was one movie that I missed of the duo and the details of which, are sadly beyond me. Would appreciate anyone who have watched this movie to atleast write in with a short synopsis of what it was about. The songs had lyrics by Bharanikkavu Sivakumar, set to music by MK Arjunan.

Seemantha rekhayil, one of my Vani Jayaram favorites from Asheervadam (1977).

Premaabhishekam (1982)

Premaabhishekam (1982) was the Malayalam dubbed version of  Vazhve Mayam (1982), which was the remake of the spectacular Telugu blockbuster Premabishekam by Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and Sreedevi. She reprised the role in Tamil where Kamal Haasan replaced ANR. This movie was also remade into Hindi in 1983 by Dasari Narayana Rao again, starring Jeetendra and Rekha, as Prem Tapasya ! The story line was about this rich, spoilt-brat, who also takes to flying as a hobby, falling head-over heels with an Indian Airlines cabin crew, Sreedevi. Everything seems to go well, even to events leading up to the wedding till Sridevi finds Kamal Haasan with another woman. All hell breaks loose, but in the great Indian tradition onscreen, sanity is restored in the nick of time. The Tamil and Telugu version had a fantastic lineup of songs , and the Malayalam version had its Tamil share of the music tracks with words ‘arranged ‘ by Poovachal Khader. The music was by Gangai Amaran and I love both the versions of the songs.

Here is Neelavanacholayil by KJ Yesudas from Premabhishekam (1982)

I only wish they had done an indigenous Malayalam equivalent of  a storyline that resembled Sagara Sangamam, and they can do it even now – we welcomed Kamaladalam, which was in the same vein, didn’t we? Ah, the wait.

If I have left out any movie, please let me know.

20 thoughts on “The Sridevi – Kamal Haasan combination in Malayalam Cinema

  1. I can definitely say one thing here.That is Kamal Sreedevi pair worked wonders not only in Tamil but malayalam too.Asheervadam,Kuttavum Sikshayum,Premabhishekam,Nirakudam,Sathyavaan savithri were super hits among the youth.In fact no other jodi could set the fire on screen like themS.I came across the article accidentally and i wanted to comment though after Sreedevi’s death.My mom watched all her cinemas.


  3. Does sridevi speak fluent malayalam or was she dubbed always? Kamal Hassan’s last full venture in malayalam was Chanakyan I guess, after which like you said was just guest appearances or dubbed versions of tamil into malayalam maybe. Personally, I loved the songs in premabishekam (tamil and malayalam) and the movie too but more so the songs. I even thought they would have made a nice real life pair when i was a kid :P, though true to my age then i didnt know that looks alone arent the criteria hahaha. By the way, you cant compare two artists unless they perform the same thing right, in that way SPB and Yesudas both sang the same songs here 😛 (i know comparison isnt called for , just for fun i mean. both are gr8 and we are blessed to be part of their era). I am a keralite, i loved both equally! So being a keralite, and a bigger fan of yesudas than spb (though i adore him too)…….if i have to love both versions, i guess spb takes the cake? Great review btw!, real smooth flow and a beautiful way of writing!, your thoughts and what you intend to express has been done very nicely! The best part is, you havent written words/lines just to show you can!, just whatever is necessary/apt! and its very clear that you have the arsenal to write with bigger words/lines hahaha…i say this cos i hate it when i see people use words just to show they know it! Keep it up! 🙂

    1. Hi Aby,
      Thank you for writing in. I wouldn’t know of whether Sridevi spoke fluent Malayalam but I am presuming she can, with an early career in Malayalam and Tamil films from a tender age.Those interactions have to result in something 🙂 Would anyone believe that Srividya’s mother tongue is Tamil and not Malayalam? So, there.As far as Premabishekam and the rest of them clones from over the border, I a of the belief that it was a marketing ploy, from beginning to end. And the songs that we got, “arranged” as it is, used to make cringe in places, having been more used to the original ones. Satyavan Saavitri was an exception, that was some great songs. And thank you for your kind words. I do the best I can :)..regards, cinematters

  4. Thanks for the response. How embarrassing – now that I look at that post you linked to I remember it and my comment. For some reason it didn’t stick, obviously. Pay no attention to me! 😉 I like that term, “cheater’s dance.” 🙂 Yes, the critics of film classical dances do certainly have a point which is of course a much bigger discussion. I’d be interested to hear more about what these folks have said specifically! I’ve not been able to find much in the way of articles or interviews of respected dance folk discussing the use of classical dance of films. Most likely because I’ve only seen it discussed in more of a passing way and usually with an understandably disparaging tone that believes the subject deserves little attention. For sure, those rasikas with the abilities to understand the meaning and depth behind classical dance would find the film version deeply unsatisfying and likely offensive. I suppose it all depends on one’s perspective. And I’m acting as if I know what I’m talking about! Well I won’t keep cluttering up your comment space; perhaps this would be a good subject for a future post… 🙂

    1. Dear Minai,
      No worries 🙂 In fact I have almost succeeded in getting to make one of them, who is an accomplished classical dancer and a disciple of Kalamandalam Kshemavathy, and was aslo thrilled to heavens to read your post on that. 🙂 I have put a gun to her head and am sure she has to take that offer to write on her perspectives of classical dances in South Indian films through the eyes of a teacher, a disciple and a classical purist but a very open-minded one. Keep the dances coming.. 🙂 Regards.. CM

  5. As an addition to my last comment about classical dance in Malayalam films – I forgot a couple: Thooval Kottaram, Bharatam… probably some more I’m forgetting. 🙂

  6. Very interesting post. Are Kamal’s films with Sridevi the only time he did work in Malayalam? I remember when I first saw his Malayalam songs on YouTube I was confused since I had no idea he’d ever made any dent in that industry. But your point here about the Kamal-Sridevi duo being a quick bang-for-the-buck venture is insightful.

    I’m glad to see the same perplexed reaction you had to Satyavan Savithri that I did to the song videos. 🙂 And I see that you referenced me! I missed that because of course I headed straight to the dance post first. 😉

    But my favorite point you made in this post is your wishing that the duo had both shown off their dance talent together in a film like Sagara Sangamam. Complete agreement! I think they shoulda remade Sridevi’s Jaag Utha Insaan and included more male dance content for Kamal! 🙂 I do find it surprising that the idea wasn’t jumped on, especially with all the other classical dance-based films making roaring business at the general time (K Vishwanath films, etc). Seems like Malayalam cinema didn’t jump on the bandwagon for classical dance-based films until the early 90s at which time it suddenly exploded (Kamaladalam, Manichitrathazhu, Parinayam, Rajasilpi, though Rangam was a bit earlier). I do feel like maybe I’ve missed other classical dance films in Malayalam – do you know of any others?

    1. Kamal has a quite ‘colorful’ body of work in Malayalam and Sridevi is but a ‘chapter’ in it 🙂 The respect across the border even now translates into a decent opening for any movie here, though of late he has confined to cameo appearances in Malayalam films. I have mentioned two of his early works here, if you remember. Here is a list of his movies in Malayalam, thanks to MSI which you can use as a reference point. Regarding Sagarasnagamam, it usually precedes and succeeds with a big Sigh. Also, recently came across another school of thought which vehemently expresses their displeasure in the diluted cheaters’ dance they call Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi in films, and a learned proponent even convinced me in bulletted sentences as to why it is so. Afraid they have a point there too 🙂 Regarding the classical dance-based films, yes, there are a handful but few and far when compared to Tamil and am cllecting enough material to write on taht too. Will keep you posted..Thanks again..CM

    1. Hi Shiva,
      Thank you for writing in. Other than the fact that it was one of the movies directed by Adoor Bhasi, released in 1977, there isn’t anything much I can share at this point of time. Neverthless, have started asking around now that there is a ‘need-to-know’ :), and will keep you updated on whatever details come my way. Thanks again,..regards..CM

  7. Hi Rajesh,
    It seems it was his second marriage, and hence finds no mention under the existing “social norms” even online ! Strange. The learned group at MSI corroborates the fact. Hope this clarifies…Regards.. CM

    1. Hi Rajesh,
      To the best of by belief, yes, it is. Though, there is a ‘startling’ piece of info in the Wiki page on him which says under his personal life, “He was married to Sona , Sister of Krishnan-(Panju) and Thirumalai (mahalingam). He and Sona are survived by 8 of whom is B. Lenin – a noted film editor and winner of many awards.” !! So, was he married twice? Or is this some other Bhimsingh? Need to clarify this…Regards..CM

        1. Hi Kishkoo,
          The post speaks about the Kamal Haasan – Sridevi combinations in Malayalam cinema, and to the best of my belief it was Roja Ramani who was paired with Kamal Haasan in Mattoru Seetha. Thanks, cm

          1. oops! i always jumbs without thinking here i am going again ha yes it was chemparathi sobhana. sorry in my mind the poster of kamal sreedevi tamil movie moondru mudichu which was remake of this movie i think directed by Balachander1 Thanks for correcting me .by the way how do you find out my nick name is kishkoo.only my close freind calls me kishoo

          2. Every comment posted and approved here has a valid e-mail id and a valid name ( in most cases 🙂 ). It isn’t hard when technology serves your identity in a platter, you see. Thanks, cm.

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