Sunday October 21, 2012

Random thoughts on Mani Ratnam’s Pallavi Anupallavi

Posted by Karthik

As I had confessed in my Facebook update, I’m a dead slow reader of printed books. I see to consume more per book in audiobook format or even ebooks format, both on my Samsung Galaxy S2 (no, not on a tablet or Kindle!).

I intentionally bought a print version of Baradwaj Rangan’s book on Mani Ratnam so that, in some way, I could go back in time reminiscing about the movies that I grew up with, in an old’ish format – printed book.

While I’d need a lot more time to slowly read and enjoy that book (have just finished one chapter… and completely loving it!), I had to stop by and write something about Pallavi Anupallavi, Mani Ratnam’s first film. I have no idea how to structure these thoughts, so let me simply number them in random order!

1. There’s a crying need to do a similar book with Ilayaraja. But while Mani Ratnam’s repertoire is finite enough for one person to remember maximum nuances and ask him such interesting questions, Ilayaraja’s repertoire is infinite. We’d need a stadium full of people to tackle different years, languages and genres to pose him such intelligent and pointed questions. I also wonder if Raja would remember as much as Mani does, when posed with such questions. If he does, and if he gets them all out in a book, that book is worth its weight in gold.

2. I saw Pallavi Anupallavi again after reading half way through the book’s first chapter. Before Rangan could go deeper into the film with his questions, I suddenly recalled that I don’t remember anything about the film at all. I had seen it – l-o-n-g ago and don’t recall anything about it. So I saw it again 2 days ago – thankfully, the entire movie is available on YouTube.

3. In the first 30 minutes, my jaws dropped to the floor and I couldn’t pick it up for a long time. No, the movie was not the reason – specific scenes in it were. The ones that Mani Ratnam used as-is for Karthik’s memorable cameo in Mouna Raagam! Yes, a few specific scenes from Pallavi Anupallavi were used exactly as they were in Mouna Raagam! The part where Karthik tells Revathy, on the road side, ‘Unakku bayam. Ennoda style, grace, charm ellathayum paarthu…’, ‘Ennoda oru cup coffee saapdu’, the entire scene in the coffee shop where he flips her books and she says, ‘Adi odhay kuthukkum trigonometrykkum romba dhooram’, ‘Un veettu thiruttu en veettu thiruttu illa…’, ‘Vetkam thaangaamal thanks endraaL…’… the whole shebang was in Pallavi Anupallavi, mouthed by Anil Kapoor.Β  Even the one where he gets crowd support to convince her to meet him the next day at 6pm – it was in a bus, in Tamil… and it was on the footpath, in Kannada.

There were minor changes – Trigonometry was Bio chemistry in the Kannada original, and the background music was completely different too! Thankfully, the brilliant ‘Mr.Chandramouli’ scene was unique the Mouna Raagam. Even the way Karthik gets Revathy out of her class in the college was in Kannada. The startling thing is that even minor nuances were exactly ditto – the way Revathy holds the coffee mug/cup is exactly the way Kiran Vairale holds it in Pallavi Anupallavi.

In some sense, I felt that these scenes were better suited in the Tamil film than the Kannada original, even though the story lines of both films are totally different. In the Kannada film, Kiran has seen Anil Kapoor just once, before he lands in front of her in the road side – and Anil Kapoor was smuggling alcohol from his dad’s party when he was supposed to be in his room. In comparison, when Revathy sees Karthik for the first time, he was bashing up goons on the road. At least in filmy terms, that is a better scene to lead the next where he’s trying to allege that she’ll fall for his ‘style, grace and charm’, than the one where the hero is shown to be smuggling drinks from a party in the cheesiest way possible.

I wonder if Rangan asked Mani about this, for his book. I agree that this may be less interesting to ask Mani, compared to more intelligent comparisons like his protagonists landing in a city where they can’t understand the language (Nayakan – Kamal in Mumbai, Mouna Raagam – Revathy in Delhi, Roja – Madhubala in Kashmir etc.), but still…!

4. Having just completed one chapter of Rangan’s book, I don’t know how much he has dwelt on music in Mani Ratnam’s films, but there is a chapter waiting to be written only on specific periods in Ilayaraja’s career. His scintillating music for the Kannada film Geetha is one example. Geetha was released in 1981 and I doubt if it would have been a long-drawn affair like Pallavi Anupallavi that Mani confesses took a really long time to complete since it was his debut and they were financially stretched beyond limits. Pallavi Anupallavi came out in 1983, and if you go by the style of music in Geetha’s title song and Oh Premi in Pallavi Anupallavi, there are so much that Raja can tell us about his inspirations and influences in that period… sigh!

5. Another question to Raja! Why did he not make a Kannada song out of that brilliant background piece that eventually became ‘Mella mella’ from the 1984 Tamil film, Vaazhkai? Was it Mani’s request that it remain an instrumental piece? It starts playing from the opening credits and one specific part in it made me really uncomfortable. After the first line repeats (twice), the 3rd line repeats just two times in Tamil – but in the Kannada original, at least in the title credits, it repeats 4 times! Everytime it did, something inside me went, ‘what the hell is happening here?’. Watch from 3:10 onwards, till 6:20 or so, when the tune plays during the opening credits.

This was not the case as his addictive piece is used in the film! I’d love to know why RajaΒ  You may be better off having only heard the Tamil, song-version since what ended up as a song in Tamil – at least in terms of the picturization (with Silk Smitha!) – is horrendous! Enjoy… anyway πŸ™‚

As you can see, this random rant is more about Ilayaraja and significantly less about Mani Ratnam. That’s why I decided to go ahead and write it instead of waiting to add these in my review of Rangan’s book (whenever I get to finish the book and get time to pen my thoughts on it).



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