Thursday, April 15, 2010

'Mast' Watch

Have you ever wondered why we watch a film more than once? I have known those who have watched ‘Roja’ 22 times, ‘Kakkha Kakkha’ 12 times, ‘Titanic’ 25 times, ‘The Godfather’ 14 times! (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched my favourite films!) Whatever the reason be – acting, actor, story, special effects, music – the basic question is after the first viewing, we know the story and the suspense is broken, but still we watch it the remaining ‘n’ number of times. In ‘Roja’ we know that Rishi will marry Roja and not her sister, that Rishi will be kidnapped by the terrorists, that Roja will fight to get her husband back to live happily ever after. But we will watch the film as though the story is just unfolding in front of our eyes. This is a very unique quality of cinema…because how many of us will watch the repeat telecast of a cricket match when we know who won and who lost?

The films that I watch can be classified into ‘must’ and ‘mast’. The former for sheer love of cinema and its craft and the latter for pure time pass. The mast category has an ‘all time mast’ section, which includes, ‘Indran Chandran’ and ‘Chidambara Ragasiyam’. My mom will disown me if she reads this... she just cannot understand how I have a liking for these flicks. I would have watched these two films in particular, almost the same number times I would have seen a classic film. Among the mast films there are a lot of black and white films as well like Kanavane kan kanda theivam’ and ‘Manalane mangaiyin bakiyam’. I was reminded of these two Tamil films when I saw ‘Clash of the Titans’. If these films had the present day technology then, they would have created history worldover. Though ‘Clash of the Titans’ is technically astounding, the story is yet another myth fantasy combo. Kanavane kan kanda theivam’ and ‘Manalane mangaiyin bakiyam’ have a far superior gripping story line.

For those of you who haven’t seen these 1950s blockbusters here is the storyline. Kanavane kan kanda theivam (Husband is God in person) stars Anjali Devi and Gemini Ganesan. Anjali Devi is a princess and her father, the king, is blind. A special thing from the underworld will be the only power to give him vision. Gemini Ganesan who is in love with Anjali Devi goes on a mission to get it. He tricks the princess of the underworld and escapes with the vision giver. (how can one forget the famous ‘Unnai kan theduthey’ song?) The angry damsel curses him to become a deformed man with a hunchback. Also the curse includes his death the minute he reveals who he is to anyone. Gemini Ganesan helps the king get his vision and in return asks for the princess’s hand in marriage. Much to the dismay of the king Anjali Devi agrees to marry him and proceeds with him to lead a life of a simple wife and they also give birth to a son. When the son is 7-8 years old Anjali Devi comes to know that there is a remedy to help her husband get relief from his sufferings. (by the way… she still doesn’t know it is Gemini Ganesan but is happily living with him). Her son is the only one who can get the Rajamanickam or something from a cave inhabited by dangerous snakes and help her husband. The small boy takes the arduous task and after lot of adventures brings Gemini Ganesan back to shape.

Manalane Mangaiyin Bakiyam (Husband is blessing for a woman), has the same lead pair. (Both these films were produced by Anjali Devi through her Anjali pictures.) In this film Anjali Devi is a dancer in the court of Lord Indra. She likes mortal Gemini Ganesan and gives him a flute which when played will bring her before him the next second. One day when Anjali Devi is dancing before Lord Indra, Gemini Ganesan plays the flute and Anjali Devi is helpless and obliges resulting in Lord Indra’s curse that turns her into a mortal. The film has interesting items like a flying carpet and blanket that could make one go invisible (this movie was conceptualized years before Harry Potter was created). After a lot of ordeals Gemini Ganesan is once again cursed to turn into a stone. Anjali Devi sends her son to get the only remedy to save her husband. While the son is on his way in the flying carpet Gemini Ganesan turns stone upto neck level. The son lands just in time and places the curse remover on top of his dad’s head and saves him (just like Perseus shows Medusa’s head just in time to save the princess)

I often wonder why such films are never made now and even if made will it have a decent success. I have grown up watching films like Maya Bazaar, Mannadhi Mannan, Vanchikotai Vaaliban and even now have a fetish for these classics. When films like Gladiator, Brave Heart, and Greek Mythology based Clash of the Titans et al draw huge crowds to the theatre we have lost the art of making historical films. One can only wish to see literature classics like ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ on silver screen. And wait for a magic wand to make that dream come true.


CDey said...

waiting for a good mythological movie to be released in india.. but b-grade graphics can be a real dampner.
the characters must be as real as medussa's head in percy --- or aslan in narnia, if it has to gain any acceptability.
budget might be a factor??!!

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