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Updated: April 8, 2010 15:04 IST

Paarijaatham (1950)

RANDOR GUY
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Pooh-poohing traditions: Paarijaatham
Pooh-poohing traditions: Paarijaatham

(T. R. Mahalingam, M. V. Rajamma, B. S. Saroja, R. Balasubramaniam, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, Nagercoil K. Mahadevan, ‘Pulimoottai' Ramaswami, T. S. Jaya, Menaka, ‘Kaka' Radhakrishnan, C. S. D. Singh, T. K. Sampangi, Lalitha-Padmini-Tara Chowdhary)

The familiar tales about Lord Krishna, his two wives (Rukmini and Satyabhama) and their tiffs and the legend of fetching the Parijatham plant were all woven once again into a single film, directed by K.S. Gopalakrishnan, a Congress Party worker. Besides acting, he also directed films (Chakradhari, 1948). The script was written by Elangovan, the first star writer of Tamil Cinema, and the lyrics were by Papanasam Sivan, Udumalai Narayana Kavi, Kambadasan and K. T. Santhanam. The music was composed by C. R. Subburaman and S.V. Venkataraman. Mahalingam, who made a splash as the boy Krishna in Nandakumar (1938), played the grown-up Krishna, while B.S. Saroja played Satyabhama and Rajamma, Rukmini. Narakasura was played by the well-known character actor of the day, R. Balasubramaniam, while Narada was, as one could easily guess in such films of those days, by Nagercoil Mahadevan!

The film had dance sequences by Lalitha-Padmini and Tara Chowdhary a classical dancer who was active in the field and danced in quite a few Tamil films of the bygone era. Today she is hardly remembered even by the dancing community in south India! N. S. Krishnan virtually stole the film right under the noses of all the stars in the movie with his brand of socially reformist and irony-rich comedy track. He created a character spoofing Lord Krishna named ‘Srisudhama' playing the role himself, with Mathuram as his only consort. He also had dancing sequences with many young women (gopikas!) around him while he played the flute! He also had to fake Narada (‘Pulimoottai' Ramaswami).

Ever since his earliest films during the late 1930s, NSK had irony-drenched sequences attacking superstitious beliefs, illogical rites and rituals which made him an icon in Tamil Cinema.

In this movie, he had a couple of songs. One of them lampooned the idea that the world wakes up only after the cock crows in the morning, suggesting that man should not wait for a bird to announce the dawn and that he should get ready to face the day on his own and achieve something worthwhile.

Another song raised some satirical questions. Lord Krishna fought a demon just to fetch a flowering plant to please his wife! He would have done better and helped mankind had he brought paddy or some other grain to raise crops and feed the hungry.

He expressed such satire and irony through a mere song and comedy. Even as early as 1949 when this movie was launched rationalist ideas and bold thinking preached by ‘Periyar' E. V. Ramasami Naicker were yet to gain popularity It reveals the vision of NSK even though he never went to school.

It's a matter of regret that NSK virtually remains unknown on the other side of the Vindhyas. One wonders why no attempt has been made to have his work assessed and a book brought out in English.

Remembered for the satire-rich comedy of NSK.

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