Talking about a movie that released way back in 1973, and 30 years later, I still think this is one of the best movies offered by Tamil Cinema. The sheer depth in categorization and bold theme chosen by the director are the major reasons why this movie stands out in comparison to other scripts that have been offered ever since. K Balachander is one of the pillars of the industry who offered variety of scripts and showed the courage to portray strong female protagonists. To sculpt such characters, one needs to fall in love with them, and KB must have been deeply in love with Lalita (actress prameela), to have etched out a masterpiece.
I happen to see a video, where the blogger mentioned this movie as one his all time favorites and this provoked me to revisit this movie and observe the sheer intent to make the audience think and decide for themselves (deciding for yourself is a topic we never like to think about).
The first thing that struck me was the title, and how there are tacit mentions sprayed throughout this 150 minute masterpiece. How the friend is consoled by telling that till you reach the stage, you will be nervous and once you start your Arangetram you would never know that you were once nervous (Arangetram medai erum varail thaan kashtam). One of KB's favorite topics is maintaining the balance between authenticity of a ritual and the repercussions of modernization; How Ramu Sasthri feels humiliated and squirms at the way society is performing the acts unauthentically. The social messages that are tacitly touched upon by KB just leaves me spellbound; be it flesh trade and how male escapes scot-free, family planning or societal impressions on a call-girl.
There are various scenes where you can find KB's stamp on his characters, Kamal's opportunism, Lalitha's histrionics due to frustration towards men or be is the usual, not-a-brahmin-do-gooder. This movie, tends to push you towards thinking about the outlook of a middle class indian family and the parochial view on a woman we once lived with.
Portraying Lalitha as an intelligent, subversive young woman is a master-stroke and makes you sit up and take notice of the emotional intelligence she possesses. This is a movie, that i think helped Tamil cinema hold its head high and commercial success only encourages you to choose scripts such as these.
It is tough to imagine the 70s and 80s without KB and makes me uncomfortable thinking of the movies that might have ruled in his absence. We would have had KR Vijaya as the obedient daughter-in-law and preached to house wives how to follow the 26423498 rules to keep you husband happy and not question him. I am proud to have seen KB's movies and still salute him for the sheer intent in making movies with unusual characterization. Characters in the movie make-or-break the experience and KB had that spot on.
To other people who might have not watched this, I highly recommend it to understand the quality of cinema then, and how surprisingly we never found another KB ( there might be a mani, shankar or Bala), though Bhagyaraj was pretty close in terms of characterization.
(You can find the movie here)http://www.einthusan.com/movies/watch.php?lang=tamil&id=351