Sunday, May 17, 2020

Raja Paarvai

'80s oLiyum Oliyum (OO) was very special. This was the era when the only one thing we had to worry was about whether we were allowed to switch on TV at the right time on Fridays. We had a slogam session on Fridays at home, in Madras where slogams would be recited by the entire family and at the end of it there was Kalpooram - Arathi.  If we were lucky, the slogam recital would begin at 7.00 and end just in time for oLiyum Oliyum. If we were not, oLiyum Oliyum was missed. The starting time was not in our hands because it depended on the convenience of many makkals.  
The '70s OO playlist featured epic songs viz. Vasantha Kaala NadigaLile with a scary Rajini, Kannan Oru Kaikuzhandai with Sivakumar being Sivakumar, Kaadhal Vandiruchi with a Sridevi as we knew her minus the Bollywood Dhoom Dhaam.

The '80s OO playlist was ruled by Azhagiye KanneOru Thanga Radathil, Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu etc. There was this one song that was on super high rotate and the one I would eagerly wait for. And the OO version always started with this Chorus "..Panivizhum pozhidinil..." (which unfortunately is missing from the ones available on streaming platforms) and move into the 'Dum Dum Dum.. Dinchak Dinchak' beats and the chorus  'Woh Woh Woh Woh..." would begin. Thalaivan SPB would come on screen to sing "Andhi Mazhai...". Ahaa! The inexplicable feeling of listening to the song!

Andhi Mazhai is my go-to Ilaiyaraaja song for everything, anything. In college when one had to prepare for Antakshari  with songs beginning from 'A', this topped the list. 
A few years later, when I had to create a question bank for a TV Game show as a director, one of the entry level questions was to name the Carnatic Vocalist in this song. Decades later, as a professional music curator, this song was a permanent fixture in all playlists possible - Ilaiyaraaja's, '80s, Songs shot in Madras, SPB's, All time Classics etc. Recently as part of Lockdown Vettiness, I'd put one Karaoke almost everyday and send it to immediate family and close friends (no escape, paavam). Andhi Mazhai was the first to be recorded there as well. I'm also vetti-ly curating a few playlists as part of the 'Lockdownil....' series. The latest is 'Lockdowinil Vasantha' with songs based on Vasantha. Do check it out before I mention the obvious.

Yesterday, popular media personality and producer, Subhashree Thanikachalam, as part of her rare songs series presented the Instrumental Piece from Raja Paarvai. I remember watching the film in '81-'82 with cousins, one late evening. I haven't seen this film being telecast on satellite channels nor on OTT platforms. Thought I must watch the film, after 39 years.

In the '70s and '80s, we knew him as Kamalahaasan or Kamal the handsome, talented, award-winning hero. Not as Kamal Saar or Kamal Haasan. In Raja Paarvai he also credits himself as Haasan.K. Raja Paarvai was an '81 release and this talented hero was already starring in his 100th film, as the blind violinist Raghu. He wore the very 'retro' type shirt-pant and taught us accented Englees. He didn't put over acting like Sivaji nor there were action scenes like Rajini padams. This was pure Kamal Gold padam.

And the heroine Nancy was the Oh-so-beautiful Madhavi with lovely eyes. She was one of those naturally beautiful actors who has die-hard fan boyz Thaathas even now.

Some of the scenes were set in a rich Besant Nagar - Adayar makkal's house of the '80s with wallpaper through and through that we had seen only in films including Thillu Mullu.

Some '80s elements like 'Thadangaluku Varundugirom' with the pazhaya Ro.  Green PTC & empty roads....

The strict (and quite relatable) Nancy's Appa played by Dhanushkodi taught me the first posh English word "Ridiculous". One knew all the trivia connected to Raja Paarvai viz. Kamal's father was played by Chandrahaasan, the film was Kamal's100th, the Thaatha was someone called L.V.Prasad who we were told was a big producer / director / actor, the kid was Kamal's nephew (was he?) and the singer in 'Andhi Mazhai' was SPB himself and the alapanai voice in Andhi Mazhai was Ilaiyaraaja's Guru,T.V.Gopalakrishnan.

Loved watching Raja Paarvai  yesterday, after 39 years. The film still looks so so good. The ad-film lover and former ad-film professional in me was over joyed when Wiki Akka mentioned Barun Mukherjee / Barun da as the cinematographer of this film. I thought it was Balu Mahendra until then.

If you're vetti (and I know you are), I'd urge you to watch this Classic and moozhgify in a bit of nostalgia with me. Even in the '80s, was quite disappointed to know that it was a commercial failure for Kamal & his brothers. And ya, we were also to blame for it for we as a family saw it on 'Thiruttu' VCR.

PS - Since now every film has this 'What after 20 years/ 40 years?' articles, here's my contribution for 39 years after Raja Paarvai.
If Raghu (Kamal) and Nancy (Madhavi) had a daughter then, she would be one of those Rich Ezhais  in her late 30s living in her own independent house in R.A.Puram, Terracotta tiles on the walls, Aathangudi tiles on the floor, hosting Christmas and Diwali parties in her p0sh house.
Oh yes, she'd definitely have close to 60-70k followers on instagramam, all thanks to her one-new-saree-Or-Dress-a-day and match match jewelry all bought from over-priced Instagramam stores.
Raghu continues to be a regular in Super Singer, Subhashree Thanikachalam's shows, Indiaglitz, Behindwoods video interviews as the one who played Violin for epic songs. Nancy runs one JFW type magazine and is a regular at film parties, writing about Vignesh Shivn's latest whatsapp status, for Sify.

2 Responses:

ashok said...

Refreshing to read your post after so long. Took me down the memory lane. That fan thatha jibe was harsh :)

Ravi _srini said...

Yes. Who said so? when we still have an eligible bachelor son....