The Tamil connect at The Venice International Film Festival

The 72nd Venice International Film Festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia has some interesting line up of films. But two films have caught our special attention.

The first is Visaranai (Interrogation) directed by Vetrimaran and produced by actor Danush’s company Wunderbar Films has been selected in the Orizzonti section which is an international competition dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema. In the history of the festival Visaranai will be the first Tamil feature film to participate in the competitive category. The director of the film, Vetrimaran has earlier made critically acclaimed films like Polladhavan and Aadukalam and was the co producer of the internationally acclaimed Tamil film  Kaaka Muttai (Crow’s egg).

The second film that caught our attention is Rinku Kalsy’s documentary  “For the love of a man” which has been selected in the Venice classics section where a selection of restored classics and documentaries on cinema will be showcased. Rinku’s film explores the phenomenal fan for Superstar Rajnikanth.

Besides the Tamil connect between Visaranai and ” For the love of a man” there is another interesting connection. Danush, the producer for Visaranai is the son in law of Rajnikanth on whom ” For the love of man” is centered around.

Watch the trailer of the two films here:

 

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Happy Birthday Superstar

"Thalapathi" - Rajnikanth

Rajnikanth in an action sequence from Mani Ratnam’s “Thalapathi.”

On the occasion of Super Star Rajnikanth’s birthday,sharing this picture from our archive

Wishing our Thalaivar a wonderful birthday!

RARE: Original LP cover of Kamal Hassan’s “Aboorva Sagodharargal” (Tamil, 1989)

In May 1989, Kamal Hassan’s “Aboorva Sagodharargal,” which featured the actor in the roles of a police officer, a mechanic and a dwarf clown, was released amidst much fanfare. Directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao and produced by Kamal Hassan himself, the film’s cast included Gouthami, Srividya, Delhi Ganesh, Jaishankar, Nassar, Nagesh, Janakaraj and many others. The film was a blockbuster hit and is said to have completed a 200-day run at the box office, a record run in Tamil cinema then (the record was broken six years later by superstar Rajnikanth’s “Baasha”). The film’s screenplay was penned by Kamal Hassan and the dialogues were written by Crazy Mohan. “Aboorva Sagodharargal” was Crazy Mohan’s debut film as dialogue writer.

The musical score of “Aboorva Sagodharargal” was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and its songs went on to become cult classics, with tracks such as “Raaja Kaiya Vecha” receiving airplay on radio and TV channels even today. And today, we bring to you from the TCRC archives the cover of the original LP record of the film:

"Aboorva Sagodharargal" | LP record cover (front) | Tamil | 1989

“Aboorva Sagodharargal” | LP record cover (front) | Tamil | 1989

"Aboorva Sagodharargal" | LP record cover (back) | Tamil | 1989

“Aboorva Sagodharargal” | LP record cover (back) | Tamil | 1989

The film was dubbed into Telugu as “Vichithra Sodarulu” and into Hindi as “Appu Raja,” a year later. Both the dubbed versions enjoyed a successful run at the box office, with Kamal receiving unanimous praise for his portrayal of the dwarf clown Appu. In the movie, the episode where Appu falls in love with the daughter of the circus owner (the daughter played by Rupini and the father played by Mouli) is said to be a tribute to Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus,” which was a silent film released in 1928. In “Aboorva Sagodharargal,” Appu goes through a Chaplinesque heartbreak in romance that is very similar to what transpires in “The Circus.”

The title “Aboorva Sagodharargal” itself is a hat tip to SS Vasan’s 1949-released feature film of the same name. That “Aboorva Sagodharargal” featured actors MK Radha and Bhanumathi in titular roles and was produced in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi simultaneously. Directed by Acharya and written by Kothamangalam Subbu, the old “Aboorva Sagodharargal” was an adaptation of the novella “The Corsican Brothers” by Alexander Dumas. The idea of brothers coming together to avenge the death of their father is the common thread running between both the old and the new “Aboorva Sagodharargal.”

Kamal Hassan, The Singer: “Paneer Pushpangale” in “Aval Appadithan” (Tamil, 1978)

We at TCRC have a large number of still photographs shot during the production of various films that have been made by Tamil filmmakers across the years. We are in the process of digitizing, sorting and cataloguing them. One of the films for which most of this work has been completed is C Rudhraiya’s “Aval Appadithan” starring Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, Sripriya and Saritha. In fact, the header image that you see at the top of this page is a production photograph from “Aval Appadithan,” which was released in 1978.

The movie, praised by many for being far ahead of its times in terms of both treatment and technique, had numerous English dialogues and frequently employed jump cuts (two or more shots taken from only slightly different angles being placed sequentially, so as to communicate the passing of time in an abrupt manner). Shot in black and white, “Aval Appadithan” had only three songs, all of which were composed by Ilaiyaraaja.

One of the songs, titled “Paneer Pushpangale,” was written by Gangai Amaren and was sung by Kamal Hassan himself. Now, we’re used to Kamal singing his own songs. But it’s quite refreshing to hear Kamal croon a ‘Raaja Sir’ (as Ilaiyaraaja is known in the Tamil film industry) number from that era. In fact, when we heard the song for first time, we couldn’t even identify Kamal’s voice. Check it for yourself. Here is “Paneer Pushpangale” from “Aval Appadithan”:

RARE: Production Stills from Mani Ratnam’s “Thalapathi”

Last week, we at TCRC had posted Arul Mani’s review of Baradwaj Rangan’s “Conversations with Mani Ratnam” and had promised to bring you some behind-the-scenes photos of the Rajnikanth-Mammootty starrer “Thalapathi.” So, here we go.

"Thalapathi" - Mani Ratnam with Santosh Sivan

Cinematographer Santosh Sivan with director Mani Ratnam on the sets of “Thalapathi.”

"Thalapathi" - Contact Sheet of Mamootty's Look Test

Contact sheet featuring Mamootty’s look test for Mani Ratnam’s “Thalapathi.”

Rajnikanth in an action sequence from Mani Ratnam's "Thalapathi."

Rajnikanth in an action sequence from Mani Ratnam’s “Thalapathi.”

Arul Mani on Baradwaj Rangan’s “Conversations with Mani Ratnam”

Mani Ratnam with Rajnikanth on the sets of “Thalapathi.” Photo Courtesy: Indian Express Archives

Today, we revisit Arul Mani’s rather balanced review of Baradwaj Rangan’s book “Conversations with Mani Ratnam” for Tehelka (click on the image to read the full story).

We at TCRC happen to have, in our archives, contact sheets of Mammootty’s look tests for Mani Ratnam’s “Thalapathi.” We’re working on digitizing this absolutely gorgeous piece of film memorabilia, which also features director Mani Ratnam and cinematographer Santosh Sivan in some candid shots. So, do watch this space for updates!

The Superstar as a Conductor | A lovely Rajnikanth tale

In the late 1960s, the conductor of the Bangalore Transport Service (BTS) bus that plied on route No 10A from Srinagar to Majestic via City Market was a certain Shivaji Rao Gaikwad, a Kannada-speaking Maharashtrian. He was a stickler for rules. His dos and don’ts for commuters were simple: don’t board a running bus; always alight and board only at bus stops; don’t travel on the footboard; present exact change for tickets. One morning, he noticed a pig-tailed college girl jump into his moving bus, and snarled, “Ilee ree, ilee ree” (get off, get off). He had the driver stop the bus and made my aunt Vasanthi—the passenger—disembark.”

We at TCRC loved reading this lovely Open magazine story about superstar Rajnikanth (click on the image to read the full story).

Our archives have numerous rare images of Rajnikanth over the years and we are currently digitizing a number of those images. So, do watch this space for updates!