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Updated: June 9, 2011 15:37 IST

Old film, new perspective

Y. G. MAHENDRA
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Sivaji Ganesan in Rajapart Rangadurai. Photo From the Archives
Sivaji Ganesan in Rajapart Rangadurai. Photo From the Archives

Nearly four decades after its first run Rajapart Rangadurai made a deep impression.

Revisiting Rajapart Rangadurai was an interesting experience. Released recently for a brief run in a Chennai cinema, the film, a success in 1973, was overshadowed by Sivaji Ganesan’s other phenomenal hits. Even the ardent fan’s response was a little lukewarm to this film, in which the thespian dons the role of a drama artist.

The atmosphere of the theatre was maintained so well, performances uniformly good and the highlight was the stunningly underplayed performance of Ganesan. A drama actor himself, Sivaji’s body language was so apt. While his portrayal of Rangadurai the man was so natural, as the actor, he vested the scenes of the ‘Special Nadagam’ that typical melodramatic touch. At least three scenes stood out for his subtle acting: the eloquent look he casts at the groom, who has cheated his sister, without dialogue; his subdued (that these days, expressionless faces and mouthing monosyllables often pass off as subtle acting is a different issue) emotional outburst in front of his sister's funeral pyre; and the shock with which he reacts to his young brother’s request. The young man wants Rangadurai to pose as his rich brother, to impress his sweet heart’s father.

Kannadasan’s lyrics and the music – an amazing blend of the contemporary and traditional theatre – by MSV lifted the film to great heights. The impressions remained long after the curtain came down. And to think that none of the three received a national award for their stupendous work spanning several decades!

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