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Updated: April 7, 2012 19:35 IST

Kiratha Arjuna (Oorvasi Saahasam) 1940

Randor Guy
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Kiratha Arjuna
Special Arrangement Kiratha Arjuna

M. R. Krishnamurthi, P. B. Rangachari, Thirukharaivaasal Subbulakshmi, Bhavani, K. Sambamurthi, T. M. Ramasami Pillai, M. V. Sulochana, M. S. Mani and T. V. Lakshmi

This film had two titles like some movies in the past had. It was produced and censored in 1939, but for some reason, released in 1940.

Kiratha Arjuna narrates the popular epic tale about the Pandava hero Arjuna and Lord Shiva, disguised as a tribal hunter, fighting him. There is a temple in Ernakulum, Kerala, dedicated to this episode.

Shiva intends to impress Parvathi with the devotion Arjuna has towards him. Just as Shiva disguised as Kiratha, a tribal hunter, appears before Arjuna, he sees a wild boar charging towards Arjuna and shoots an arrow at the boar. Arjuna, an accomplished archer, also shoots an arrow at the boar. The boar that was in fact a demon named Mookasura in disguise is killed and its original form revealed. However, a dispute arises between Arjuna and Kiratha as to who the real killer of the animal is. A long-drawn battle ensues between the two, resulting in Kiratha's victory over Arjuna.

The vanquished Arjuna, unable to even stand up, makes a Shiva Linga out of mud and performs pooja, offering flowers. To his surprise, he finds that the flower he offers to the Linga is falling over the head of Kiratha. Arjuna then realises that Kiratha is none other than Lord Shiva. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva grants the ‘Pasupathastra,' the divine arrow, to Arjuna.

Krishnamurthi, a qualified Carnatic musician and younger brother of the legendary Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, played Arjuna. He was a successful singing star of the stage before he sailed into early Tamil Cinema playing the lead role in many films. His earliest hit was Bhama Vijayam (1934) in which he played Lord Krishna with the famous ‘Palayamkottah Sisters,' Ratna Bai and Saraswathi Bai, playing Rukmini and Sathyabhama, while another legend of Carnatic Music G. N. Balasubramaniam took his bow in cinema playing Sage Narada.

A talented Carnatic musician, Bhavani K. Sambamurthi, who was popular in the early decades of Tamil cinema, played Sage Narada in Kiratha Arjuna. Besides he composed the music for this film. Thirukharaivaasal Subbulakshmi played the celestial dancer Oorvasi sent to lure Arjuna away from his penance by Lord Indra.

This film was produced by Venus Pictures (not to be confused with the later era multilingual Madras-based movie unit of the same name) and directed by G. Ramaseshan who was involved in the setting up of the famous Central Studios of Coimbatore. This is the only film he directed along with Murugadasa (Muthuswami Iyer), the maker of popular films such as Chakradhari.

Another popular star actor of his day, P.B. Rangachari played a major role in this film. Ramasami Pillai played Lord Shiva.

Sadly full details about this film are not available. Neither are any still pictures left. And, of course, no print has survived.

Remembered for the interesting storyline and melodious music.

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