|Directed by||K. Balachander|
|Produced by||V. Govindarajan
|Written by||K. Balachander|
|Music by||M. S. Viswanathan|
|Cinematography||B. S. Lokanath|
|Edited by||N. R. Kittu|
|Distributed by||Kalakendra Movies|
|Release dates||18 August 1975|
|Running time||146 minutes|
Apoorva Raagangal (English: Rare Melodies) is a 1975 Indian Tamil social drama film directed by K. Balachander. The film features Kamal Haasan, Srividya in lead roles while Rajinikanth, Jayasudha, Nagesh, Major Sundarrajan play supporting roles. The film was produced by V. Govindarajan and J. Duraisamy under the production banner "Kalakendra Movies". The soundtrack and score were composed by M. S. Viswanathan while the lyrics for all tracks were written by Kannadasan.
The plot is loosely based on 1973 American film 40 Carats. The film was controversial upon release as it examines relationships between people with wide age gaps, which challenged Indian social mores. The film is about Prasanna (Kamal) who falls in love with Bhairavi (Srividya) who is elder than him while his father is drawn to Bhairavi's daughter Ranjini (Jayasudha). Rest of the film revolves around the four characters and their problems.
It won three National Film Awards and three Filmfare Awards South. It was later remade by Balachander into Hindi as Ek Nai Paheli with Kamal Haasan and Hema Malini in the main lead. The film marked the debut of Rajinikanth. Apoorva Raagangal released on 18 August 1975 and was a success. It was also remade into Telugu as Thoorpu Padamara.
Prasanna (Kamal Haasan) is nursed back to health by a classical singer Bhairavi (Srividya) after a bloody street-side fight. The two are slowly drawn to each other and decide to marry in spite of their age difference and a past relationship that Bhairavi is still inextricably tied to. In the meantime, Prasanna's father (Major Sundararajan) embarks on a relationship with the young Ranjini (Jayasudha). We soon find out that Ranjini is Bhiaravi's daughter (born to her out of wedlock). Both relationships arrive at a dilemma with an unexpected twist when Bhairavi's long-lost husband (Rajinikanth) comes into picture.
- Kamal Hassan as Prasanna
- Major Sundarrajan as Mahendran
- Srividya as M. R. Bhairavi
- Jayasudha as Ranjani
- Nagesh as Dr.Soori
- Rajinikanth as Pandiyan (Abaswaram)
- Y. G. Mahendran (Special appearance)
- Kannadasan (Special appearance)
- Jaishankar (Special appearance)
The film became the onscreen debut of Rajinikanth who went on to became one of the famous actors in Tamil cinema. During his stay at the institute, Shivaji Rao was performing in a stage play and got noticed by K. Balachander. When he came for the audition, Rajini imitated Shivaji Ganesan to prove his mettle to Balachander. Known for his insight, Balachander wanted Rajini to showcase his inborn ability for the next audition, by being unique, without imitating anyone. Rajini, took his advice seriously, and two days later, the actor took a cigar in his hand, and threw it into his mouth in style. His mannerisms were impressive and unique, which Balachander hadn’t seen in any other actors. The director advised him to learn to speak Tamil, a recommendation that Rajinikanth quickly followed. Balachander christined Shivajirao as Rajinikanth named after a character from Balachander's film Major Chandrakanth (1966) on March 27, 1975. Balachander, gave Rajinikanth a relatively small role as an abusive husband of Srividya in the film. According to Sathyanarayana, "That first shot of the gate opening was shot five or six times, It was excellent! Even the onlookers remarked that this new find had style. But who was he, they wondered. It created a flutter". Balachander revealed that Rajini's first shot of opening the gate was deliberate and was representative of the actor making an entry into cinema through the film. Rajinikanth's make-up was done by R. Sundaramoorthy. Srividya was assigned to play the prominent character Bhairavi. Jayasudha was recruited to play as Srividya's daughter. Recalling her experience, Jayasudha said that it was tough portraying the role of a young girl falling in love with an old man, "and Balachander Sir was a very tough taskmaster. He would not be satisfied unless he got 100 per cent from you. He used to reprimand me and shout at me if I messed up. I used to cry on the sets". It was Kamal Haasan's first leading role as an adult. Haasan learned to play the mridangam for his role.
Balachander said that he wanted to shoot directly in houses without erecting sets to give authenticity to what we wanted to convey in the film, with the help of Loknath, he went in search of good houses, found bungalows that belonged to sons of the AVM family.
The music for the film is scored by M. S. Viswanathan and lyrics by Kannadasan. The song "Adhisaya Raagam" is based on Mahathi Raga. Hindu wrote:"Adisaya Ragam starts off beautifully in Mahati raga and in the stanza that begins with ‘Oru Puram Paarthaal’, suddenly shifts to Bhairavi. Once again Yesudas breathes life into these lines and the noteworthy phrase in this stanza is ‘Maru Puram Paarthaal Kaaviri…’ — the twisty sangati connecting the dhaivata-nishada-shadja deserves special mention". The song "Ezhu Swarangalukkul" is based on Panthuvarali raga. "Kelviyin Nayagane" was based in Durbarikanada Raga.
|"Athisaya Raagam"||K. J. Yesudas||04:15|
|"Ezhu Swarangalukkul"||Vani Jayaram||5:36|
|"Kai Kotti Siripaargal"||Siak Mohammed||2:54|
|"Kelviyin Nayagane"||Vani Jayaram, Sasi Rekha||6:44|
Themes and influences
The film deals with the concept of relationships between people with wide age gaps, which challenged Indian social mores. It showed a young man who falls in love with an elderly woman who belongs to the age of his mother while young woman is attracted to man of her father's age. According to Naman Ramachandran, Pandiyan's (Rajini) character is not entirely negative. Pandiyan does not appear as a villain; in fact, he comes across as a saint. Pandiyan commits no villainous act. Rather, he voluntarily agrees to stay away from Bhairavi when he finds out that she is happy with Prasanna. Three things that happen immediately after Pandiyan’s death conclusively prove that the film doesn’t see him as a villain. First, mournful music swells on the soundtrack, of a kind usually accorded to the death of a character who elicits sympathy; second, Bhairavi wipes off her sindoor, like a widow would after her husband’s death; and third, Pandiyan’s dead fingers are found to be clutching a note that says his last wish is to see the raga and taala meet, a clear reference to the proposed joint performance of the singing Bhairavi and the mridangam-playing Prasanna. So, Rajinikanth did not debut as a villain.
Southdreamz in their review mentioned that Apoorva Raagangal was the suitable title for the movie by which KB hinted the ragas to each of the characters. Kamalhassan as Prasanna, Srividya as Bairavi, Rajnikanth as Abaswaram and Jeyasudha as Ranjani were all named after ragas.
Apoorva Ragangal received widespread critical acclaim. On 22 August 1975, The Hindu said: "K. Balachander has contributed a unique story, dialogues and superb direction in Kala Kendra's Apoorva Ragangal. A film with a revolutionary offbeat theme it provides poetic experience." Times of India wrote:"This K Balachander film was innovative for the way it brought out the O Henry sort of twist in the plot. [..] It was experimental in bringing out complexities involved in relationships and how certain relationships, no matter what, do not leave you and emerge abruptly to create new equations. Hindu wrote that it:"was bold and unapologetic about love transcending age, caste and all barriers one can think of". Behindwoods wrote:"It was a powerful subject handled with the deft touch of the true auteur".
In 2011, after Balachander had been given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Rediff named the film one of Balachander's best and wrote, "Many filmmakers of that time would have hesitated to touch a subject like this, particularly at a time when relationships were still being gingerly tested on celluloid. But not K Balachander". In 2003, Rediff wrote, "In an era where every other moviemaker claims to have come up with a daring, original, premise, this 28-year-old film is worth remembering. A trademark K Balachander film, this was the first to showcase Kamal’s histrionic abilities".
The film continued a trend of films with different themes that focused on realism. A reality show with the same name produced by Maxima Media was aired on Vijay TV.
- National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil — D. Jayalakshmi, G. Vijayalakshmi (Producers) and K. Balachander (Director)
- National Film Award for Best Cinematography — B. S. Lokanath
- National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer — Vani Jayaram
- Filmfare Award for Best Film – Tamil — D. Jayalakshmi, G. Vijayalakshmi
- Filmfare Award for Best Director – Tamil — K. Balachander
- Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil — Kamal Haasan
In 1976, Apoorva Raagangal was remade in Telugu as Thoorpu Padamara. The remake was directed by Dasari Narayana Rao and featured Murali Mohan and Narasimharaju in lead roles while Srividya reprised her character and Madhavi did the character of Jayasudha. In 1984, film was remade in Hindi as Ek Nai Paheli. Directed by K. Balachander again, Hindi remake featured Kamal Haasan reprising his role from original while Raaj Kumar, Hema Malini and Padmini Kolhapure were featured in lead roles.
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