Jun 10, 2007

Thillana Mohanambal.....

Here's some plain speaking...I stay at Bangalore and yet I've never been any good with movies or with catching up with the latest releases. I can never be dedicated to any task for more than a few minutes, and being glued to the silver screen for two-and-a-half or three hours is not, in many cases, an exception. I do have quite a few English favorites though (This is affectionately called the UK effect by some of my team-mates). Given a choice, I would prefer the Tamil oldies to the latest Hindi or the regional masalas. And speaking of Tamil oldies, the one film that pops up in my mind is this evergreen classic Thillana Mohanambal..

It is truly a classic..not only because it is set in the early to mid nineteenth century or because it is of Eastman colour..but also because generations after generations, people (children and adults alike) have found pleasure in every scene of the movie..I've watched the movie a zillion times before and I can play the entire movie in my mind's eye uninterruptedly (sans the irritating ads), and yet, I never miss an opportunity to watch it again discovering newer connotations in every scene and adding richer appreciation to every character. Well, its after all a classic....

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, here is a very brief synopsis of the movie...
Sikkil Shanmughasundaram (a role adorned by Shivaji Ganesan to the extent of religious perfection) is a very talented but rather irritable 'Nadaswara vidwan'. Mohanambal (played by Padmini) is an equally talented and gorgeous Bharatanatyam danseuse. Each of them have their own set of troupes. Balaiya, the mridangam vidwan, Thangavelu, the dance master, T.R.Ramachandran (playing the role of Varada) are a few of them.

Well guys, its the proverbial love at first sight and first hear for them (you got to hear the nadaswaram and watch the Bharatanatyam dance). Its more of a magnetism between the Nadam and Bharatam, the arts, and consequently the corresponding artistes. And that's another reason why its a favourite of mine (its love at first encounter ;) ). Back to the plot, Shanmugasundaram's bad-temper and Mohana's mother's lust for money bring in a few villains. Vaithy (played by Nagaesh) accentuates the rift between them, bringing in the Singapura Minor (Balaji) and the Madanpur Maharaja (Nambiar) who are allured by Mohanambal's splendor.


There is also a contest held between the lead artistes, (nadam or bharatham? Sikkil or Mohana? is the question) and the usual wise judgement of both being equally exceptional is delivered. Mohanambal is rightfully bestowed with the title 'Thillana Mohanambal' by none other than Shanmugasundaram himself in praise of her exceptional talent in that form of dance - Thillana...

To cut a long story short, (movies of yesteryears do have a intricate storyline guyz, unlike the modern counterparts which manage to run the reels for three hours with a three-minute plot), Mohana finally manages to appease Shanmugasundaram with her dedication. All's well that ends well...

Now for the critical analysis of the movie....All the songs are classics, with this one standing out... 'Marainthirunthu paarkum marmam enna..' Check out the video on youtube (link provided in this page)....Padmini's abhinayangal, her charm, lithe dance movements, notwithstanding Shivaji's expressions will leave you entranced. My favorite scene in the movie is the train scene, one in which both the troupes are cramped inside a typical Indian third class compartment and fight their guts out for more comfortable seats, berths, and light. Balaiya (the mridanga vidwan and Sivaji's senior accomplice excels in this scene...his is yet another monumental performance in movie.)The young couple, unperturbed by the surrounding scuffles are in their private world conversing with their eyes. How romantic!!! How intense is their affection!!! I seldom get that romantic feel in any of the modern day movies.....Such is the execution of the scene....

And I have quite a few favorite characters in the movie...Its difficult to pick a single superlative, because every single artiste connects to their roles and plays them to the required level of precision. I admire even the seemingly minor roles of Varadha (TRR), Vaithy (Nagaesh), dance master (Thangavelu) or even the vethilaipotti accomplice of Mohana's mother. And yet, one particular character which deserves awesome appreciation is Jiljil Ramamani (seemlessly rendered by Manorama). Her role is marked by ignorance, innocence, good-intentioned stupidity. In my opinion, her performance in the movie is second only to Shivaji Ganesan's...Do leave your favorite scenes and characters in the comments section.

So if there is something which can keep a true Mercurian like me glued to a spot for over three hours, it is a classic like Thillana Mohanambal. You can laugh, cry, emote, sit straight and connect all at once in three hours. That should explain most of it...I can't think of any modern-day sequels that can get even remotely close to this classic...Can you??

12 comments:

Balaji said...

that is a good one, you seems to have lot of interest towards oldies and you tried to bring the old memories. keep writing.

Kamini Santhanagopalan said...

AWESOME Nithya :) Yeah, we do have similar tastes girlie....As you rightly said, one can watch this movie for the nth time, with the same interest and enthusiasm...Good wrk with the writing...Keep blogging!

Kams

Divya said...

After Filter Kaapi, this one - your language is fantabulous, one awesome writer u are... My favourite character in the movie is Jikjil Ramamani as well. That was a classy portrayal of innocence and complete honesty... her unique style of asking "Yeeenn" (Why) is unbeatable and wins the audience heart hands down ! Nalam Dhaana was another classy song and the lyrics again - unbelievably soothing and caring ! Well, the movie had a subtle message to the viewers, Doubting ur lover's affection and being extra possessive and also blowing fuse, and the ego game can hinder any relationship and it did in this one as well.

Charu said...

true....some oldies are truly dear to the heart...i believe the emphasis at those times was more on each character, his or her personality built upon by the dialogue delivery...and i feel that even though the stories were quite predictable at those times, it is sometimes how every character in the movie potrays it to the audience is wat matters and well there no point comparing it to the present cinema...one of my personal favs is the dialogue between nagesh and shivaji in the temple in the movie, thiruvilaiyadal...short b ut amzing....can never get tired of hearing it...

Anonymous said...

Good one. I like the train scene too.
Hm.. Modern day movie that is remotely close to this one?? Can't think of any :). This is the mother of all love stories :) Karagattakaaran, Sangamam all tried to ape this movie with little effect though.

Neatly written. Do it often.

-B

Little Angel :-) said...

Hey...nice topic u have taken...yes, no movies that come now take many factors into account!!

Jegan said...

Neatly written. Actually I like the lively characters of Bhalayya, Nagesh and Jil :). I like the scene which involves the conversation of Jil and Sikkal group just before the Maraindhirundhu song. The way Jil speaks to Sivaji is simply cool. You can watch it anytime :)

lakshmi said...

Cool. Nithya!! Another impressive piece. Yeah I luv all these old tamil movies. You know what, even here in the U.S I watched 'Saraswathi Sabadham' and 'Thiruvilayadal' on the net. Both the movies kept me glued to the monitor. All the songs were wonderful and I dint want to fast forward them (unlike these modern day creations)

Shankar said...

very true.. its a classic in its own right.. i was watching thiruvilayadal the other day.. terrific movies!

__***___ said...

Absolutely, I agree with the fact that one can watch movies like thillana mohanambal , Kadhalika neramillai, bama vijayam million times. Just getting off the track, I really liked your Filter Coffee and DD days posts. Same thoughts ! It brought my TVS school days memories for sure. The Sundays start with a Rangoli, News, Thiraimalar and to savor that , a Filter coffee and "The Hindu" Magazine would make the days very ideal.(Reading Hindu will often end up in fights as who should read them first if you have siblings). I bet only DD can bring programmes of that quality. Truly amazing. I could very well relate to most of your posts ..

Joe said...

Your writing is simply good

MuthuSV said...

Hi ... very nice... I jus accidentally came across ur blog... pretty good.... most of us hav such thots n interest.. gr8 write up...