After watching Kanyakumari (1974) by the KS Sethumadhavan – MT Vasudevan Nair duo, there are places your eyebrows go, at times in puzzlement, at times in amusement and at times with sheer curiosity. These are what I felt had to be put down in a separate, yet related note. Who knows, you would find more, once you have watched the movie, or recall it from the times you watched it four decades back.
This is fondly dedicated to a “Kanyakumari Evangelist “ 🙂
Kanyakumari (1974), directed by KS Sethumadhavan based on MT Vasudevan Nair’s screenplay also had a unique pairing onscreen that was never repeated ever – Kamal Haasan with Rita Bhaduri ( NOT to be confused with the younger sister of Jaya Bhaduri), that too in a Malayalam film production! It was her second movie in her career having graduated from the Pune Film Institute in 1973. Zarina Wahab, her batch-mate, however decided to stick with Malayalam films along with her work in Hindi, and even started off paired opposite, guess whom – Kamal Haasan in Malayalam, in Madanolsavam (1978).
This was also Kamal Haasan’s first film in Malayalam in a leading (?) role, after his debut in Kannum Karalum (1961), which again was by KS Sethumadhavan. Kanyakumari (1974) portrays a brief increment in time, centred around the three focii – Kanyakaumari and its enduring myths, the main Rest House of the tourist destination and the vistors to the coastal town who stay there, the squalid tenement of the leading protagonist, Parvati and the events that bind them, riding on sheer chances and coincidences. In a way, as I see it, Kanyakumari is an interesting study of helplessness, sexual and spiritual – of the leading members of the cast pitted against unbridled virility without any morality, and the how destiny addresses each in its own celestial logic.
Salil Choudhary had this amazing sensibility to really get under the skin of any genre of music that he was briefed to create according to the Director’s vision. Add to the sound tapestry that we are familiar with, when it comes to Salilda‘s contribution to Malayalam cinema, a Russian composition for Nellu (1974), and I would say the most perfect Christian harmonic church chorale I have ever heard onscreen was in Aparadhi ( 1977), Nanma Cherum Amma. It is also surprising that he never repeated that composition anywhere, maybe because it was so appropriate and unique, just perfect for that moment for that one film in Malayalam. I have had the misfortune to listen to countless versions ( really really horrible, terrible, scary covers) of the song available in the market, and I chuckle to myself when you realise that even with the latest cut-and-paste sound engineering magic in recording studios these days, NO ONE has been able to replicate the haunting harmony of the song!
A week down the line, I realize it is difficult to get out of the vice-grip that a literary work by Padmarajan has on your soul. It was on a whim that I dusted off the old, dog-eared collection ( from my school days) of the Celestial Storyteller, and dived straight in, starting with Nakshathrangale Kaaval (1978). It might have been a coincidence that the recent news report about his son, Ananthapadmanabhan starting off on preliminary scripting in remaking the 1978 film version of this fantastic story of three souls bound together in deep friendship, love, immorality, lust and celestial love.
I remember watching the movie in one of the late-night sessions of Doordarshan Kerala, thanks to probably a very bored program executive trying to bring some life into the otherwise staid proceedings of DD’s program chart. But try as I might, now, I just cannot recollect the main protagonists of the movie, I know there was MG Soman as Prabhu and Adoor Bhasi as Varmaji (Uncle). Recently I got hold of an old movie-still from the film which had MG Soman and Jaya Bharathi which brings me to the next question
Aakashangalil Irikkum Njangalude (Our Father who art in Heaven) from K.S.Sethumadhavan’s Naadan Pennu (1967) still gives me goosebumps each time I listen to it. Like most of its contemporary compositions, this Vayalar creation was simple, sweet and beautiful. For anyone who knew the Lord’s Prayer, this was a step closer to divinity, and for most who haven’t, an absolute gem that captures the spirit of the evening vespers.