Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989 film)
|Directed by||Singeetam Srinivasa Rao|
|Story by||Panchu Arunachalam|
|Produced by||Kamal Haasan|
|Cinematography||P. C. Sriram|
|Edited by||B. Lenin|
V. T. Vijayan
Apoorva Sagodharargal (transl. Unique Brothers) is a 1989 Indian Tamil-language masala film directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. The film features an ensemble cast including Kamal Haasan, Jaishankar, Nagesh, Gautami, Rupini, Manorama, Srividya, Janagaraj, Moulee, Delhi Ganesh and Nassar. It revolves around twins Raju and Appu who were separated during childhood and grew up in different localities, and Appu's quest for revenge upon learning that his father was killed by four criminals.
Apoorva Sagodharargal was produced by Haasan under the production company Raaj Kamal Films International. The film's story was written by Panchu Arunachalam, while Haasan and Crazy Mohan wrote the screenplay and dialogues respectively. B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan handled editing respectively, while the cinematography was handled by P. C. Sriram. The music for the film was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, with lyrics written by Vaali.
Apoorva Sagodharargal premiered at the International Film Festival of India. The film was theatrically released on 14 April 1989 and was a box office success, completing a 200-day run in theatres. It won the Filmfare Award for Best Film – Tamil, and two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards: Best Actor (Haasan) and Best Lyricist (Vaali).
Sethupathi is an honest and upright police officer. When he arrests four bigwigs – Dharmaraj, Francis Anbarasu, Nallasivam and Satyamoorthy – they escape justice easily and return to take revenge. They kill him and poison his pregnant wife Kaveri. However, she manages to escape. She gives birth to twins with the help of a woman named Muniyamma, but the babies are separated due to circumstances. One of the twins, Raja, grows up as a mechanic with Muniyamma, while the other, Appu, a dwarf, grows up in the circus with his mother.
Appu falls in love with Mano, the daughter of the circus owner, mistakenly thinking that she was asking him to elope with her, but she actually had asked him to be a witness to her marriage with her fiancé, which was not approved by her father. Heartbroken over this and insecure about his height, he attempts suicide but is prevented by his mother, who then reveals that his dwarfism might have been because of the poison force-fed to her when she was pregnant. This leads Appu to learn about his father's murder and decides to avenge him. Meanwhile, Raja falls in love with Janaki, who happens to be Satyamoorthy's daughter. As Raja resembles Sethupathi, Satyamoorthy and his three friends gain interest in him.
Appu uses two of his circus Indian Spitz puppies to lure Francis to an abandoned building, and kills him using a Rube Goldbergian contraption; Francis's corpse falls into a lorry covered with hay. Raja and Janaki have car trouble and hitchhike a ride in the same lorry, oblivious to the corpse. The lorry driver discovers the corpse when he reaches his destination and calls the police. The inspector in charge of the case suspects Raja by tracing the car number given by the lorry driver.
Appu kills Nallasivam in a golf course using a tiger from his circus, but Nallasivam's caddie sees Appu's face, and the tiger's tail from afar. This leads the inspector to Raja again, who, coincidentally, is wearing a tiger costume while performing a song at a festival in the street. Janaki becomes enraged when she learns that Raja has killed her father's friends and breaks up with him. Raja is released from custody as the postmortem examination has revealed real tiger wounds that could not be inflicted by Raja's costume.
Raja goes over to Janaki's house to smooth things over with the inspector following him covertly. When he is talking to her, Appu tricks Satyamoorthy into killing himself with a circus handgun that shoots backwards. Appu escapes, but Raja and Janaki enter Satyamoorthy's room, hearing the gunshot a few moments before the inspector arrives. Janaki faints when she sees her father dead, and the inspector now believes that Raja shot Satyamoorthy. Raja too escapes and is on the run, now a fugitive. When he is spotted by some people in a market, in an attempt to evade capture, Raja threatens to kill the nearest woman he gets a hold of (Kaveri). When the crowd backs down, he releases Kaveri and escapes, oblivious to her identity. Kaveri realises that Raja is her first son and seeks out Muniyamma. They both realise that the murders were committed by Appu, and Raja is mistaken as Appu, who overhears this.
Dharmaraj believes that it is Raja avenging his father's death and that he is the next target, and decides to seek out Raja's mother, and is shocked to see Kaveri, whom he believed to be dead, also present there. Nonetheless, he kidnaps both women and threatens to kill them unless Raja surrenders to him. Appu escapes, helps Raja evade the police, and tells him everything. They both team up and go to the circus where their mothers are held captive. Appu and Raja overpower the goons, Dharmaraj ends up hanging by a rope, and with silent approval of Kaveri, Appu shoots that rope, causing Dharmaraj to fall and be eaten by circus lions. Appu surrenders to the police, while Raja and Janaki reunite.
- Kamal Haasan as Sethupathi, Appu and Raja
- Jaishankar as Sathyamoorthy
- Nagesh as Dharmaraj
- Gautami as Janaki
- Rupini as Mano
- Manorama as Muniyamma
- Srividya as Kaveri
- Janagaraj as the inspector
- Moulee as Mano's father
- Delhi Ganesh as Francis Anbarasu
- Nassar as Nallasivam
- R. S. Shivaji as Constable Sambandham
- Crazy Mohan as the car owner
- Anand as Vincent, Mano's fiancé
In the mid-1980s, Kamal Haasan developed the desire to act as a dwarf in a feature film, and told Singeetam Srinivasa Rao about it. According to Haasan, the story was originally written for his mentor K. Balachander, who refused the film citing that it is "too complicated". Haasan decided to produce the film himself since no producers were willing to do the film. Haasan and Rao developed the "tragic story" of a dwarf who works in a circus, falls in love with a woman who does not reciprocate his feelings, and realises only in the end of the film that she left him for another man. The film would end with him walking into the desert with his circus troupe. Though shooting took place for a week, Rao became sceptical of the film's feasibility and the project was dropped.
Afterwards, Haasan and Rao consulted Panchu Arunachalam who said, "you have a unique character – the dwarf; make him the hero and your picture is a hit." Arunachalam made substantial changes to the script, mainly to suit the interests of Kodambakkam audiences. It was his idea that Haasan play an additional character: Raja, who would be the dwarf Appu's twin brother. According to Rao, the character of Raja was meant to satisfy "the popular audience" while Appu "makes the actual story". To prevent either character from overshadowing the other, Rao brought in additional plot details like "the whole mistaken identity, tiger dance and romance". Haasan approached Crazy Mohan to write the dialogues, making this the first of several collaborations between them. Mohan also wanted Haasan to write concisely but Haasan refused, saying this would result in the loss of many aspects of Mohan's humour. Cinematography was handled by P. C. Sriram and editing by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan.
Haasan played three roles: Sethupathi, Appu and Raja. For the character looks, he wore tight pants, unbuttoned Denim shirts with sport shoes for the character of Raja, whereas for Appu, he wore only clown-like costumes besides regular clothes. Prem Nazir was the initial choice for the character of Sethupathi; because he was unwell at the time, Haasan himself played the role. Nagesh, known primarily as a comedian, was initially apprehensive when Haasan approached him to portray Dharmaraja; he feared the film would fail if audiences would not accept him in a negative role. Both Nagesh and Haasan wanted to depict the character as a new kind of villain.
Ganthimathi was originally cast as Appu's foster mother, but following changes in the script, she was replaced by Manorama. Lakshmi was offered to play Sethupathi's wife Kaveri but did not accept, resulting in Srividya being cast. Ravikanth appeared in a minor role as Haasan's friend, but his portion was deleted from the final cut. Haasan had included a character for Krishnamachari Srikkanth, but the character was later removed. Stage actor Suppuni was offered the role of a handicapped character, but declined.
Filming and post-production
A scientist from Bangalore was invited and he produced many sketches he had designed how the dwarf would be created. He spent a year researching his role, spending ₹200,000 in the process. He even went to Hollywood scouting for special effects, but opted out as there was little expertise or footage available as even Hollywood had not had much success with the dwarf. He consulted electronic engineers to make possible gadgets and in desperation talked to a magician. Haasan's shoes in the film were created by D. J. S. Kumar.
Rao said that the dwarf look was done in different angles and innovative ideas had been adopted for each angle. A pair of special shoes was prepared to be attached to the folded knees of the actor for the straight angle shots. The legs had been taken care of and the mannerism adopted by Haasan by holding his arms in a particular way jelled with his "dwarf" legs. For the side angle shots, a trench was dug up just to cover up the actor's legs from the feet to knees, with special shoes attached at the knee level. Rao noted Appu would lend "attention and sympathy from the audience" and he made sure Raja "got equal attention and sympathy".
S. T. Venky made his debut as visual effects designer for this film and also became the first person to use digital technology in visual effects. Animals used in the films were trained by Ravindra Sherpad Deval. The circus portions in the film were filmed at Gemini Circus. The song "Raja Kaiya Vachchaa" had many scenes inspired from Grease (1978), including the transformation of the old car into a new one, and the dramatically-changing costumes of the dancers. The song "Amma Aatha Kaalai Thottu Kumbidanum" was initially dumped after the script went through changes, but after many days of running successfully in theatres, it was re-included as an added attraction.[b] While filming the climax, Nagesh insisted on performing his own stunts rather than using a double.
Themes and influences
The title Apoorva Sagodharargal was taken from 1949 Tamil film of the same name, an adaptation of the novella The Corsican Brothers by Alexandre Dumas. The idea of brothers coming together to avenge the death of their father is the common thread in both films. V. Ramji of Hindu Tamil Thisai felt the names of the villains – Dharmaraj, Satyamoorthy, Nallasivam and Francis Anbarasu – were in contrast to their personalities. Haasan compared the film to Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) because it features the concept of "a family being destroyed by the villain, brothers being separated and reunited". Balaji of Indolink compared it to Twins (1988) as both films feature "a pair of 'imperfect' twins".
The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. All the songs were written by Vaali, while Prem Dhawan and Rajashri wrote the lyrics for Hindi and Telugu versions. According to Ilaiyaraaja, Haasan explained a particular situation in the story and Ilaiyaraaja composed a tune, but Haasan, despite liking the tune offered, was not overall satisfied. He then presented the song "Naan Paarthathile", composed by M. S. Viswanathan for Anbe Vaa (1966) and based on that Ilaiyaraaja composed the song "Puthu Maappillaikku". Haasan has stated that, after watching a performance at an Academy Awards event, he wanted Ilaiyaraaja to compose a song like that; this resulted in the lines "Bababa... Bababari... Pudhu Mapillaikku". The song "Unna Nenachen" was rewritten by Vaali multiple times and Haasan was still unhappy with it; only at his sixth attempt, he became successful in delivering what Haasan wanted. The song "Raja Kaiya Vachchaa" has two versions, one by Haasan, which was used in the film and in the audio cassette, this version started with the dialogue between Haasan and Manorama and another sung by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, which was included in the Audio LP and Cassettes. Elements of "Annatha Aadurar" were used in the song "Saroja Saman Nikalo" from Chennai 600028 (2007). Following Vaali's death in 2013, The Hindu included "Unna Nenachen" among his best songs in their collection, "Best of Vaali: From 1964 – 2013".
All lyrics are written by Vaali.
|1.||"Raja Kaiya Vachchaa"||Kamal Haasan||04:55|
|2.||"Raja Kaiya Vachchaa" (Reprise)||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:55|
|3.||"Puthu Maappillaikku"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja||04:34|
|4.||"Unna Nenachen"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:38|
|5.||"Vaazhavaikum Kaathalukku Jey"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki||04:40|
|6.||"Annaaththe Aaduraar"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:39|
|7.||"Ammaava Naan" (Not included in the film)||Kamal Haasan||04:28|
All lyrics are written by Prem Dhawan.
|1.||"Raja Naam Mera"||Kamal Haasan||04:50|
|2.||"Woh To Bana Apna"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Asha Bhosle||04:32|
|3.||"Tune Saathi Paya Apna Jag Mein"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:25|
|4.||"Matwale Yaar Teri Jai"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Asha Bhosle||04:30|
|5.||"Aaya Hai Raja"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:28|
All lyrics are written by Rajashri.
|1.||"Raja Cheyyi Vesthe"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:50|
|2.||"Bujji Pelli Kodukki"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja||04:32|
|3.||"Ninnu Thalachi"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:26|
|4.||"Vedi Vedi Aasalaku"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:30|
|5.||"Aadedhi Nenura"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:28|
Apoorva Sagodharargal released on 14 April 1989, Puthandu. Despite facing competition from other Puthandu releases such as Pudhea Paadhai, En Rathathin Rathame and Pillaikkaga, the film became a major commercial success; it became the first in Tamil to run for 100 days in five theatres in Bangalore, and overall completed a theatrical run of 200 days. The film was dubbed into Telugu as Vichithra Sodarulu, and into Hindi as Appu Raja in 1990.
Ananda Vikatan, in its review dated 30 April 1989, mentioned that though there were three Haasans, the actor was stunning in his performance as Appu. The reviewer said his acting was equivalent to the Eiffel Tower, and the good old revenge story was presented with payasam by Haasan. On the same day, P. S. S. of Kalki called the story formulaic, but praised the execution. Khalid Mohamed of The Times of India wrote on 2 July, "Though [Kamal Haasan] dominates the show from the first frame to the last, the ensemble spirit is forever palpable: the ring-rang rock pop music score by Ilaiyaraja and the dynamic camerawork by P.C. Sriram of Nayakan contribute immensely to the picture's lightning impact."
|Tamil Nadu State Film Awards||Best Actor||Kamal Haasan|||
|Filmfare Awards South||Best Film – Tamil||Kamal Haasan|||
Haasan had considered making a sequel to Apoorva Sagodharargal, which would revolve around Appu escaping from prison. He even had one scene ready, and described it in 2021 as being "high up in the mountains with a high tension cable walk and Appu would be the only man to walk across the high tension cable but unfortunately, he chooses a windy day and that's how he loses his pole". The film was later dropped because, according to Haasan, "we wanted to stop being technobrats and become entertainers".
After the success of Apoorva Sagodharargal, Haasan and Mohan worked together on numerous films including Michael Madana Kama Rajan (1990), Magalir Mattum (1994), Sathi Leelavathi (1995), Avvai Shanmughi (1996), Kaathala Kaathala (1998), Thenali (2000), Panchatanthiram (2002), Pammal K. Sambandam (2003) and Vasool Raja MBBS (2004). The Times of India in their list "Kamal Haasan's Top 10 mindblowing avatars" wrote that Haasan "created history by playing a dwarf who was almost half his original height". In 2010, Rediff wrote: "Under Singeetham's very able direction, the movie blended mainstream cinema and emotion very well, [..] and marked the beginning of what was to be a long career, for Kamal Haasan, in getting more into the skin of his character, and setting higher standards for himself with the aid of superior make-up and body language". On Haasan's birthday, 7 November 2015, Latha Srinivasan of Daily News and Analysis considered Apoorva Sagodharargal to be one of the "films you must watch to grasp the breadth of Kamal Haasan's repertoire".
The film was included by Rediff in their list titled "10 Best films of Kamal Haasan". Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu noted that Haasan's commitment to playing a dwarf in Apoorva Sagotharargal "helped him scale heights, not many can reach". Baradwaj Rangan compared I (2015) to Apoorva Sagotharargal, saying that in both films, "a noxious substance results in the hero's ‘deformity’, and when he discovers how he came to be this way, he doles out punishment in inventive ways". Director Vinayan said the idea of his Malayalam film Athbhutha Dweepu (2005) was inspired from Apoorva Sagodharargal. On Haasan's 60th birthday, an agency named Minimal Kollywood Posters designed posters of Haasan's films, One of the posters depicted the two minions with one of them being a dwarf reminiscent of the characters from the film. Rangan compared Mersal (2017) to Apoorva Sagodharargal, saying that in both films, "A father is brutally murdered. A son takes revenge. The other son is thought to be the killer."
In popular culture
The 1990 film Raja Kaiya Vacha was named after the song from Apoorva Sagodharargal. The sad theme music from the film was humorously remixed as the "Gopi Bat Theme" from Chennai 600028 II (2016). In Periya Marudhu (1994), Sodalai (Goundamani) imagines himself as a dwarf similar to Appu and dances to the song "Pudhu Mappillaiku". The scene where Appu uses a Rube Goldberg contraption to kill Francis Anbarasu was parodied in Thamizh Padam (2010), with Delhi Ganesh reprising his role.
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- Shivakumar, Vivek (23 April 2020). "Venkat Prabhu: 5 Instances When The Director And His Team Celebrated Inside Humour In Tamil Cinema". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 2 May 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
- Periya Marudhu (motion picture) (in Tamil). Meenakshi Arts. 1994. From 1:29:12 to 1:30:00.
- T. S. Suresh [@editorsuresh] (28 March 2020). "More than 10 years after the film released @csamudhan calls to ask the logic of why we made Delhi Ganesh drink in Tamizh Padam when he doesn't in the original (Apoorva Sagodharargal). Enna oru kadama unarchi! Actually there was logic, can you guess? PSA #TamizhPadam on Sirippoli" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1977–2010. Galatta Media. OCLC 733724281.
- Raj, Maya (July 2010). "Style Evolution: Kamal Haasan's Stupendous Style Journey". South Scope. Vol. 1 no. 10.
- Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1998) . Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema (PDF). British Film Institute and Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-563579-5.