I was wondering what to write on this festive occasion in my occasional column on film songs. I discarded the film Navaratri outright because I dislike intensely. The whole story is terrible and as for the acting, well well.
So today I present Punnagai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan from K Balachander’s Iru Kodugal. This was sung by P Suseela and Jamuna Rani. Lyrics were by Vaali and the tunes by V Kumar.
I dont know if you have seen it but if not you should. It is a classic example of how a film was a hit in its time and is now horribly dated. There is a dreadful sequence where Gemini (never the greatest of actors) and Sowcar keep debating on file vs life. There is another scene where Gemini’s second wife in the film, Jayanthi, comes to meet Sowcar (his estranged first wife) in the latter’s office. Sowcar for some reason wears dark glasses at her desk (may be it was a spoof on Mu Ka and MGR) and Jayanthi’s face is reflected them. This was considered a superb piece of direction at that time. There are some redeeming features though – Sowcar is at her best. Nagesh, whose character has shades of grey, is very good. And there is a superlative scene where KB shows Annadurai without showing him – just by his glasses, his towel and his chair. The film released in 1969, just after Anna passed away and my guess is that this was KB’s tribute to Anna.
I have always wondered as to why Gemini fared poorly in this of all films. The character echoed much of his real personal life anyway.
By the way, for Madras history buffs, please see the scene where Sowcar and Gemini meet at the beach. You get to see the newly built Ezhilagam and also the University Centenary Building still under construction.
Iru Kodugal won Balachander a National Award. It was made in Telugu and then remade at Sanjog in Hindi in 1972, by SS Balan (SS Vasan’s son) for Gemini Studios. It was one of those films that nailed the fate of that organisation. It had Amitabh in Gemini’s place, Mala Sinha (Ayyo) in place of Sowcar and Aruna Irani for Jayanthi. There could have been no greater recipe for disaster.
The song Punnagai Mannan is still worth a watch.
This is a part of a series that I write occasionally on old film songs, chiefly Tamil and Hindi. You can read the earlier stories here
I came here for the Navaratri reference and stayed for the Ayyo in parentheses after Mala Sinha’s name.
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