Retro Review - We present the reviews of some of the films that offer great cinematic experience as if they are released now (currently). We present the content in such a way that we have just come out of the theater and penned out our thoughts fresh. You can enjoy the reviews and relive the moments in a different way. And try to watch the films like they're new, once again.
For those interested in marana mass films, we recommend one of the superstar's films Padayappa.
Director - K. S. Ravikumar
Producer - Arunachala Cine Creations
Music - A R Rahman
Cast - Rajinikanth, Sivaji Ganesan, Ramya Krishnan, Soundarya
KS Ravikumar's Padayappa is an out and out Rajinikanth film. For those looking for some mass elements, style and swag, Padayappa is the most perfect choice. The superstar stamps his seal in every frame that he enters but that does not bore you, just as the punch line goes - En Vazhi, Thani Vazhi.
It is a formula as old as the mountains. Righteous and wealthy hero's family are evicted from their house by the evil brother's family, the hero works hard and comes up in status - riches to rags and back to riches due to hard work. As a result, the hero stresses that money is not important for a man. Wealth is the ability to make things happen.
The story has a large family with Sivaji Ganeshan as the patriarch but had to give away his riches to his greedy half-brother. His family consists of his wife Lakshmi, children, an engineer Padayappa (Rajinikanth) and a quiet sister Sithara.
The powerful yet kind dad of Padayappa dies of heartbreak due to their fall from grace. The family is left with nothing except a barren land. As the wealthy landlord and his family lose all their fame and status, Radha Ravi, Padayappa's maternal uncle, calls off his son Suryaprakash's (Nasser) marriage with Padayappa's sister and he marries Padayappa's half-uncle's daughter. Meanwhile, Surya Parakash's sister Neelambari is head over heels in love with Padayappa. But, our Padayappa, the man who upholds tradition much more wants a classic 'Tamil Ponnu' as his wife and falls for Neelambari's servant Vasundhara (Soundarya).
Once Padayppa finds out that their barren land has rich deposits of granite, they toil day and night with a few of their faithful servants and convert it into a land of gold thus regaining their lost glory and status. Padayappa mother goes to her brother's house, humiliates him and gets Padayappa married to Vasundhara, thus resulting in the suicide of Radha Ravi, confinement of Neelambari in her home.
Years pass by, but Neelambari locks herself in a room still lost in her love for Padayappa as her brother Suryaprakash builds a successful political career. When Neelambari learns that Padayappa's daughter and her brother Suryapraksh's son Chandru (Abbas) are college mates, she hatches a plan to seek revenge on Padayappa. She advises Chandru to fall in love with her enemy’s daughter. Enroute to the temple where the marriage of Padayappa's daughter and Chandru was to take place, Suryaprakash is killed and Neelambari is saved by Padayappa. But she kills herself as she does not want to live at the mercy of her sworn enemy Padayappa.
Comparing the context - then and now
The film is laden with many dialogues on how a man should be and even more on how a perfect woman should be. Rajini says that a woman should never get angry, should be modest, should be devout and should be in control. Those lines would out-rightly be underlined as misogynistic now and they actually are. There are also references to the feudal attitudes of powerful families.
As for Padayappa, he is someone who gives utmost importance to his family, his virtues and hard work. He always reinforces this thought - money is not everything. Any man who desires too much will never be successful. Perhaps the youth of today can take a leaf out of this and try to inculcate some of them in their lives too. The film showed how hard work made Padayapa and his family rise from rags to riches. Though they became rich in an unbelievable time span, let us understand the fact that hard work pays.
For 21 year old films, especially in Tamil/Hindi, the hero is supreme. We get a Mogambo or a Gabbar Singh once in a blue moon who could be on par and match the lead men. But, Tamil cinema was much different, Rajinikanth is the supreme soul in his films and no one stood face to face with 'The Rajinikanth'. We did have an Antony (Raghuvaran) in Baasha and a Shanthi Devi (Vijayashanthi) in Mannan who almost touched Rajini's aura.
The highlight of Padayappa, apart from the man himself, is Neelambari (super-brilliantly essayed by Ramya Krishnan) We could compare her to the modern age woman, who believes in herself and would have none of the traditionally-upheld rules thrust upon her. She openly declares her love and lusts after a man she is madly in love with, does not dress according to the whims and fancies of the society- she says Mattukku pudicha dress ellam ennale poda mudiyathu (I will not wear dresses that impresses buffaloes) Walking around in a red frock with knee high red boots, Neelambari was a sight to behold and would have not only the men of today but even the women swoon after her. She was equally graceful in saree with her grey hair, big bindi and perfectly made hairdo. In fact, she was a beauty personified. Apart from Sivagami's (in Baahubali series) role, a role made memorable by a supporting actress, then it was that of Neelambari.
Well, we know that Neelambari is a strong-willed woman as she is pitted against the powerful Padayappa. But she failed in her life. Did she meet with her downfall due to her anger - as Padayappa had already warned of consequences when a woman is ill-tempered? Or was Padayappa responsible for her downfall - as she believed that he had turned her down and found her servant maid better than her? For a woman of her will, we would have wanted her to be mightier in life than whine over lost love. We would have wanted her to march ahead in her career, may be an entrepreneur or a political leader, given her US education. But then, she would have become stronger than Padayappa in her life which would have been good in real life. But for the film, the writer interfered.
Padayappa would have been a perfect melodrama if not for Rajinikanth. Just as he has references for how a woman should be, he also gives classes on how a man should be- a man who desires more will never be successful. He upholds this value throughout the film. His charisma, swag and style are unmatchable. As Neelambari says, despite his age, he never ages and looks handsome and stylish. As the punchline goes - En Vazhi Thani Vazhi- it is his way of carrying himself that makes him the supremo of the big screen. His dance and comic timings too are pitch-perfect.
We know that Rajinikanth's intro songs always have a message to the society. Singa nadai pottu is one such. Be it the stylish Kick yeruthu or the romantic Suthi suthi or the inspirational Vetri kodi kattu or the vibrant Minsara Kanna, the songs were tailor-made for the superstar. AR Rahman, is the man behind them. The background score on Rajini's entry and the eerily striking BGM of Neelambari are the best of the musical maestro.
Style, swag, dialogues of Padayappa and don't miss the sensuous Neelambari.
Reviewed by Divya Nair