Cinema

Bharthruhari 1944

Jayamma in Bharthruhari  

This is an unusual film based on the life of an ancient king Bharthruhari who ruled his kingdom justly and wisely. A Sanskrit scholar, he created history, writing three works, ‘Bharthruhari Sathakam' on ‘Sringaram' (Love), ‘Neethi' (Ethics) and ‘Vairaagyam' (Renunciation), which are still talked about by scholars. (A ‘Sathakam' consists of 100 verses in Sanskrit.)

Like most kings of that day, he (Sama) has 300 wives and the youngest wife, his favourite, is the beautiful Pingala (Jayamma) with whom he spends a lot of time. His brother is Vikramadityan (Pattu Iyer). The king has a grand stable of horses from many lands and the chief groom is Aswapaalan (NSK) who has a lovely mistress, Sundari (Mathuram). The favourite queen has a close companion (Janaki).

To satisfy the whims and fancies of his mistress, Aswapaalan takes to burglary at night and people begin to get scared. The king decides to bring the culprit to book and goes out at night in disguise….

By sheer accident, Aswapaalan meets the young queen and both have an affair without the knowledge of the king. One night, the king's brother, Vikramadityan, catches the burglar and leaves him in the queen's palace. Pingala in order to wriggle out of the situation complains to her husband that Vikramadityan has tried to seduce her! Without bothering to enquire about the truth, the king at once banishes his younger brother. Later, when the king finds the guilty lovers together he realises the truth. Shocked, he gives up the throne, brings back his banished brother and crowns him the king. He becomes a sanyasi and goes to the forests to do penance….

K. Subramanyam, one of the pioneers of Indian Cinema, shot the love-making scenes between Jayamma and Krishnan with some degree of intimacy and realism which people thought was in bad taste — those were certainly far ahead of the times! This aspect made the film controversial and did not help it succeed at the box office or win critical acclaim.

Jayamma, one of the leading personalities of Kannada Cinema, played the adulterous queen which was not accepted by the people. They did not expect her to do such a role or such scenes, especially when she played mostly respectable characters in her movies! The brilliant comedian and star, known as ‘the Charlie Chaplin of India,' never did such a role in his career and many of his friends and admirers criticised him strongly!

Kali N. Ratnam, Pulimoottai Ramasami, Aazhvaar Kuppuswami, Krishnamurthi and C. T. Rajakantham contributed to the comedy.

Pattu Iyer, an excellent character actor, played the role of the king's brother with grace. He also directed movies though not with much success. His finest performance was as the doctor who separates the conjoined twins in the Gemini Studios' Acharya-directed hit Apoorva Sahotharargal. In later years, he involved himself in the management of film production and worked for the producer, director and cinematographer Karnan.

Along with Subramanyam, his uncle C.S.V. Iyer directed the film at Newtone Studio with cinematography by Thambu (Subrahmanyam's cousin and C.S.V. Iyer's son.) Noted art director and filmmaker Nagoor was in charge of the scenes and settings, while the art director was K. R. Sarma. The lyrics were by the Papanasam Brothers (Sivan and Rajagopala Iyer) and Udumalpet Narayana Kavi. The music composer was V. K. Parthasarathy Ayyangar. Somewhat interestingly, Jayamma and Krishnan sang a duet in this film!

Bharthruhari was produced under the banner of Kalaivani Films and MUAC, both owned by Subramanyam and friends.

Remembered for the controversial scenes of Jayamma and Krishnan.



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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 10:39:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/bharthruhari-1944/article3339493.ece

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