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 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).
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) 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.