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This Kannada film made Santhana Bharathi question the conventionality of Tamil cinema

Santhana Bharathi

Santhana Bharathi   | Photo Credit: S Siva Saravanan

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Actor-director Santhana Bharathi discusses four films that left him moved, broken-hearted and emotional in this weekly series

Santhana Bharathi is an actor-filmmaker who started working under veteran filmmaker CV Sridhar. He made his debut with Panneer Pushpangal, a coming-of-age romantic drama. He’s known for his association with actor Kamal Haasan, with whom he worked in two films Guna and Mahanadi, which won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. Santhana Bharathi shares interesting anecdotes on four movies that were instrumental in making him a filmmaker.

Chomana Dudi (1975)

When I was working as an assistant, I used to frequently attend film festivals.

A still from Chomana Dudi

A still from Chomana Dudi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

That is how I ended up watching a host of American war movies at Safire theatre. In fact, I caught Chomana Dudi at one of the festivals. The movie talks about caste discrimination in a small village in Karnataka and the narration just sucks you in. It made me question the conventional trappings of Tamil cinema. In that sense, Kannada cinema was really pushing the envelope in the early ‘80s.

Uthiri Pookal (1979)

I still remember the impact Uthiri Pookal had on me.

Sarath Babu (L) in a still from Uthiri Pookkal

Sarath Babu (L) in a still from Uthiri Pookkal   | Photo Credit: M Periasamy

Because, I became insecure as a person after watching it. The first thought that popped up in my mind was: ‘How can somebody create something like this?’ Everything was new about Uthiri Pookal — from filmmaking to music. We had seen nothing like this before in Tamil cinema and it was a learning lesson for us. This was around the same time when Malayalam and Kannada cinema pushed the envelope and came up with terrific stories. As a budding filmmaker, I used to long for such narratives in Tamil cinema. J Mahendran made that possible.

Moondram Pirai (1982)

There was a huge buzz around its release.

Kamal Haasan and Sridevi in a still from Moondram Pirai

Kamal Haasan and Sridevi in a still from Moondram Pirai   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The elaborate climax sequence just broke my heart and it was so disturbing at that point. I couldn’t come out of that zone, so I went straight to Kamal Haasan’s house and told him: “Kamal, Moondram Pirai has affected me deeply, particularly due to the climax act. You have given a great performance.” Kamal Haasan had a great scope to flex his acting prowess in Moondram Pirai, which was playfully aided by Sridevi. Even after all these years, if we are talking about Moondram Pirai, it’s because of Balu Mahendra.

Nayakan (1987)

I have read the novel, but somehow I missed catching The Godfather when it released.

Kamal Haasan in a still from Nayakan

Kamal Haasan in a still from Nayakan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It goes without saying that I’m a fan of the novel. Nobody could have ever imagined attempting something like The Godfather in Tamil. Not even in their wildest dreams. And then came Nayakan. I remember being blown away by the film’s shocking climax (courtesy: Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan). It created not just a ripple, but waves in Tamil cinema. So much so that Sivaji Ganesan himself was impressed by Kamal’s performance.

(As told to Srivatsan S)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 8:33:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/this-kannada-film-made-santhana-bharathi-question-the-conventionality-of-tamil-cinema/article29362692.ece

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