Sridevi – Kamal Haasan in Malayalam Cinema | Satyavan Savithri (1977)

Satyavan Savithri was the only movie of that genre directed by PG Vishwambharan, a director known for his ‘populist’ movies. His second outre’ on something that was in the similar veins would come in 2002, in the form of  hilarious-but-serious version of his take on Vadakkan Paattukal, starring Vani Vishwanath as Unniyarcha – a clunky dud called Puthooram Puthri Unniyarcha ! Back to Satyavan Savithri. The story is from the Mahabharatha, and was about the unflinching, steadfast love and devotion of a wife for her husband that transcend 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.

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Malayalam Cinema Stars and their Online Habitats – 1

Pic Courtesy : Shane Waltener

Deeply saddening. This is the one emotion  that comes to mind as you go through the online domains of our actors which are meant to be their online legacies for future generations. Almost all of them come across as something “begun-with-good-intent-with the wrong-tools-and-perspective-before-leaving-it-halfway”. None of them realise  the gravity and importance of the very reason WHY the website is there in the first place. But you can’t blame ALL of them. Most of them seem to be  built as tribute by fans who then employ their own yardsticks when creating them. As a result, all you get are over-the-top fawning and salivating text that sometimes borders on the hysterically bizarre ( which I intent to share as we go along)  with howlers as text and thumbnail photographs in photogalleries that refuse to pop-up.On rechecking you find,ummm..well..that is their set size!

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Raja Harishchandra, his royal franchisees and intepretations

Raja Harishchandra’s versions on Film

I have often wondered about the route India cinema must have taken had it not got its immense treasure trove of mythological characters and ready made story lines packed with the entire Navarasas. It would have been a very dreary history, after all.  The Kings, Queens, conniving Ministers, over-patriotic Commanders-in-Chief and the rest of the entourage we had in our myths were, in my humble opinion, the best a Nation could get. It must have been also the very reason why Dada Saheb Phalke chose to immortalise on celluloid as he planned for India’s first full-length feature film, in 1913.

With its strong palette of values and ideals that even forces a King to forsake everything thats dear to him, including his family and his kingdom, Raja Harishchandra’s story was a guaranteed draw regardless of the medium in which it was conveyed, be it theater, katha or by 1913, the medium of cinema.  I feel, it is this very reason that also makes it one of the most indigenously adapted story across regions in India, in almost all languages, and in some places three times over !

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