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Friday, January 15, 2010

chartbusters in south scope oct 2009

After five decades, Kalathoor Kannamma remains a legend of south Indian cinema, as much for its cinematic prowess as for being Kamal Haasan's first film. Pavithra Srinivasan revels in the nostalgia. Movie: Kalathoor Kannamma Director: A. Bhimsingh Produced by: AVM PRODUCTIONSMusic: R Sudarshanam Year of release: 1960 Cast: Gemini Ganesan Kamal haasan savithri For all intents and purposes, Kalathoor Kannamma was your readymade big-budget movie with all the requisites of the day: A Bhim Singh, who ruled the roost with his romances those days, Gemini Ganesan, Savithri ­ both known for their unmissed chemistry and remarkable performances - and the inimitable M R Radha, a villain not easily forgotten. The story was calculated to be a heart-wrenching tear-jerker and everyone was sure that it would catapult the leads into yet another blockbuster.
Which it did ­ but for a different reason altogether.
in many ways, Kalathoor Kannamma was the archetypal melodrama that spawned numerous emotional dramas, poor imitations that couldn't catch the spirit of the original.
Bhim singh's scripts, however, were refreshing and his ability to bring out the emotions from the actors was truly commendable. It was the classic love story - rich boy, poor girl, opposing parents and a love that finally unites all.

the script needed a charming young boy to play Savithri's forlorn son ­ the reason why his parents come together.
But no matter how charming any child was, he really wasn't going to make a dent in the savithri-ganesan romance.
except that when a certain youngster appeared in the opening shots, singing "Ammavum neeye, Appavum neeye," adorable in a heartbroken sort of a way, with a host of other orphans, emotions went into overdrive. People flocked to see this child who really was a child and not some adult dressed in children's clothes.
His precocious chatter, melting brown eyes and a natural knack for adapting to the screen became legendary. And though everyone knew that the boy was born for the screen, no one quite expected him to become a legend in his own right.
Fifty years later, he's counted among the legends of not just the south but of Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan's first film was special in a lot of ways.
Kalathoor Kannamma, with its lilting melodies revolved around the child, especially in the second half. As savithri and ganesan separate ­ not willingly, but because of a cruel intervention of fate, not to mention an irate M R Radha's threats ­ the only proof of their marriage is the child.
no one knows they're married, and Savithri's child is taken away in the belief that she would be better off without him. Kamal Haasan grows in an orphanage, believing his parents are dead, while in reality, his parents are angry, frustrated and sorrowful, thinking each betrayed the other.
But Ganesan stumbles upon the child and practically adopts him. Blood is, after all, thicker than water. And that's how he finds his wife, as well ­ right in the nick of time in the tradition of Tamil cinema, on the verge of tying the thaali around another woman's neck, and in the presence of the entire community (or how else would their relationship be sanctified?) Kalathoor Kannamma wasa blockbuster ­ but more, importantly, it made Kamal Haasan a star, and fetched him the National Award for Best Child Artist.
In later years, on the sets of Avvai shanmughi, Ganesan would joke around: "In Kalathoor Kannamma, i carried him around, in Avvai shanmughi, Kamal carries me!"

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