Nostalgia Theatre

Jubilee of Sridhar's film Sivanda Mann celebrated

The stars of Sivanda Mann gather for the album moment   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘Sridharin Sivanda Mann’ — the announcement way back in 1969 was different — like the films the legend made. It proclaimed the supreme confidence the ace film-maker had in his creativity. It is part of Kodambakkam lore that C.V. Sridhar had ploughed his last penny into this big-budget venture — the first colour Tamil film with locations abroad. The Sivaji-starrer did not let him down. Nor were his fans disappointed. The film was a runaway hit, which set cash registers tinkling at 32 centres across the State and in Sri Lanka, celebrating milestones. The golden jubilee of the film’s release (November 9, 1969) was marked by a special event at Vani Mahal, Chennai, on Sunday last.

Y.Gee. Mahendra was the curator, supported by a host of individuals and outfits, including Abbas Cultural, NTFAnS Association and social activist ‘Sivaji’ Ravi. Through visuals, clippings and songs rendered by the orchestra of A.P. Balaji’s Sri Aradhana, the event transported the audience to a golden period of Tamil cinema. And the emcee (YGM) ran out of words as he was presenting a film by his favourite director in which the protagonist was a man he worships.

Among the onlookers were the film’s leading lady Kanchana, bubbly Sachu, director Sridhar’s wife Devasena, P. Susheela, L.R. Easwari and members from the family of the others closely connected to Sivanda Mann — for instance, Gandhi Kannadasan, Anandbabu, Sriram (Chitralaya Gopu’s son) and Deepak Nambiar (the cine villain’s grandson). Janaki Rajendran, wife of Sridhar’s brother C.V. Rajendran, film-maker of great repute, graced the occasion too. Ramkumar, son of Sivaji Ganesan, gave away the mementos to all of them. It was touching when they wanted to stand for a group photo and cameras flashed to capture the rare moment. “Kanchana is still my dream girl,” YGM said to which Sachu quipped — “You said the same about Rajasree the other day.” YGM promptly responded: “Well, I love the entire Kadhalikka Naeramillai group, including you... in fact you should dance now for ‘Muthamidum Naerameppo...” Sachu beat a retreat and the audience was treated to the song by Janaki and Solar Sai.

A complete entertainer, Sivanda Mann owed its success to many factors apart from the presence of Sivaji Ganesan — foreign locations, pleasing music and a simple story line, patriotism running as an undercurrent. The audience loved the lead pair — a dapper Ganesan and svelte Kanchana — and their romance in enchanting Europe with its snow-clad mountain slopes and colourful parks. Lilting music by M.S. Viswanathan provided the proverbial icing on the cake. But then music was always superb in Sridhar’s films — Kalaikkovil, Vennira Aadai, Nenjil Or Aalayam, Ooty Varai Uravu... Many in the gathering joined, feet tapping, hands clapping as Nagesh and Nirmala sang ‘Oru Raja Raniyidam...’ “Imagine, the lyricist Kannadasan and MSV did not travel with the unit but how well they have captured the scene,” said YGM also heaping accolade on Susheela for her perfect diction. In all this camaraderie, one missed a representative of T.M. Soundararajan.

Easwari was found humming when Janaki sang ‘Pattathu Raani,’ the sobs including. Her fans went berserk when Easwari went on stage to collect her memento. Waving to them she picked up the mike to sing a few lines of the song, pitch perfect.

In a touching throwback, a clipping from a 2005 function was screened. Organised by YGM, it had the entire Chitralaya group standing around Sridhar, an emotional Cheran, who was making strides as director, hailing the senior. Fittingly, the Autograph director was the chief guest that evening and spoke from his heart about the man, who redefined Tamil cinema by making all those path-breaking films.

Innovative streak

Sridhar could produce tearjerkers such as Nenjil Or Aalayam, Kalyanapparisu and Sumaithangi and rollicking comedy feasts. The love triangle theme came back but in a refreshing package involving Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan and Jayachitra. Ilamai Oonjaladugirathu underlined the innovative streak in Sridhar, who was never afraid to experiment.

Organising a retro of this scale is no mean task. Y.G. Mahendra and his team pull it off, event after memorable event. “It is our way of giving back to these great people who made our youth so interesting and artistic,” said YGM. Undoubtedly, every time this happens, the audience joins him in the felicitations and thanks him. Nostalgia, after all, goes a long way in soothing frayed nerves and stressed minds.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 2:04:31 PM |

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