It was a revelation for the makers and the audience alike when ‘Pudhiya Paravai’ was released at Chennai's Shanthi Cinemas recently.
The staying power of Sivaji Ganesan is incredible. How else do you explain the re-release of Ganesan’s 1964 offering ‘Pudhiya Paravai’ running to packed houses at the Shanthi Theatre, in Chennai? “Not just my dad, till this day MGR too commands that kind of a draw. They are a league apart,” laughs son Prabhu, an impressive performer in his own right.
At a time when satellites rule the roost and flicks are just a click away, a four decade old film doing well at the cinemas is no mean feat. Recently, when plans for a new release on Friday didn’t fructify, the family decided to revive their home production, ‘Pudhiya Paravai,’ a much-acclaimed fare in Eastman Colour. “We had a new print of it. As the film was much ahead of its time then and also coincided with appa’s ninth anniversary, we decided to release it once again.”
But little did the family expect the overwhelming response it received. “We ran houseful shows during the weekend, and on other days the hall was filled to 60 per cent capacity – a great show even for a new film,” marvels Prabhu.
His daughter Aishwarya and daughter in law Ujjaini, who had been to the cinema, found it very engaging. “It’s so new and works well in the present scenario,” they said. Just goes to prove the timelessness of the product created 46 years ago!
“Elders came in for the nostalgic feel, but the surprise element was the youngsters who watched the film and actually enjoyed it,” says Prabhu.
Said to have been inspired by director Michael Anderson’s 1958 film, ‘Chase a Crooked Shadow,’ ‘Pudhiya Paravai’ is a thriller in the whodunit genre. Dada Mirasi’s astute adaptation saw to it that the suspense was maintained till the very end, and the denouement neatly tied up the strands of suspense.
“Dada Mirasi, its director, was a lawyer and my uncle Shanmugham had just returned from a stint at The School of Economics, London. Mirasi’s meticulous planning and Shanmugham uncle’s suggestions helped and together they gave ‘PP’ the sheen and finesse of a classy tale,” says Prabhu. “A lot of research went into the making of each scene,” he adds.
The costumes were tailored and brought from Singapore and England. And both the heroines (Saroja Devi and Sowcar Janaki) made an impact in roles very different from what they had generally done till then. “Casting was a highlight and so was its music,” says Prabhu. Who can forget the everlasting flavour of MSV’s expertise that emanated through each and every number, beginning with ‘Unnai Ondru Kaetpaen’!
Viswanathan and Ramamurthy offered about 100 tunes before the ‘Engae Nimmadhi’ song was recorded. They are great,” smiles Prabhu. “We can’t forget K.S. Prasad’s cinematography either.”
He remembers the inaugural puja distinctly. “The song recorded on the first day was ‘Chittukuruvi Muththam Koduthu …’ I flipped for it straightway.” Prabhu also informs that an African music band which was visiting the city then was used for the ‘Paartha Gnabagam’ song shot on Sowcar Janaki.
Will such fiesta be served to yearning Ganesan fans on a regular basis? “We’d love to! We’ll have to see what can be done on that score,” says the son.