It’s sincerely a real honor to me to start The Fine Arts/Social Message series with one of the best works of K.Vishwanath sir, Swarna Kamalam. True to the name, every aspect of this film is enchanting as the presence of a Lotus Flower. But this Lotus can never wear out with time, as it is made of Gold! The Producer K.S.Rama Rao ( of Creative Commercials who made very good films such as Challenge with a social message!) , Maestro ILaiyaraaja in Music, Sitarama Sastry in Lyrics, Sainath as the writer, various choreographers throughout the country who worked in this film, the entire cast and the crew are the reasons why this film still remains untarnished in every Telugu Film Goer’s heart (The Connoisseur as well as the casual film audience) . This film is one perfect example where every frame speaks of Art (Dance and Music in particular) and even Silence was used as a way of communication between the characters!
Anybody who is not familiar with this film and yet is reading this post would come to a conclusion that this is only for people who admire Fine Arts. They would be really surprised to know the range of aspects which this film touches as every scene unfolds! Let it be the personality traits such as Strong Will, Independence, Belief in one’s ideals, or the basic norms which form the foundation of Indian Culture/Tradition- Respect for the Teacher who teaches Art, or the art itself- this film has it all!
Without any further delay, I would start speaking about this legendary film straightaway! When I say the word Swarna Kamalam, most of the Telugu Film Audience will immediately remember the Female Protagonist of this film Meenakshi (played Phenomenally by Bhanupriya!). I am not denying that the other characters are not so significant in this film, but due to the story being so grounded around Meenakshi, I would start talking about her before we unfold the other dimensions of this Golden Lotus!
Meenakshi is the younger daughter of a famous Kuchipudi guru Vedantham Seshendra Sharma. Due to his severe illness leading to eye sight problems , and the growing influence of western civilization on India during those days, or for whatever umpteen reasons, their family lives in dire poverty. The food products sold by Meenakshi’s sister Savitri (A talented actress Devilalitha) is the only source of income which the family has. Seeing all these circumstances at a young charming age, Meenakshi is never interested in becoming a great dancer. She is more driven towards the modern way of living and hopes that her dreams will come true someday. Though her thinking is not in right direction at the beginning of the film (Neglecting dance) , her refreshing positive attitude and her aura itself speaks it all to the audience about how she thinks!
K.Vishwanath sir is a genius in his own self that he shows the character of Meenakshi in one song lasting just about five minutes where one can understand everything about her! It is one situation where she lies at home saying she wants to attend the hospital to visit a friend and leaves for watching a movie! Though she gets initially disappointed when the film is not shown due to some problem in theatre, she happily goes to a park and sings this wonderful song- “Akasamlo Aasala Harivillu”. Here is the video for the same for a better understanding/appreciation of the character Meenakshi!
The way Meenakshi sings about her hopes/aspirations and dances like a river is something eternally flawless! The dance is also composed in such a way that it depicts the nature of the role, rather than a show of classical dance! During a time where very few female protagonists were introduced with a song (with few exceptions of Mani Ratnam films!) , this one stands out like a jewel!! In the middle of this song a painter by profession but a great Art Connoisseur at heart Chandrasekhar (Venkatesh) happens to see Meenakshi dancing flawlessly to her own tune! This is the first time when Meenakshi and Chandrasekhar properly meet each other in the film!
Coming to the character of Chandrasekhar, he is a very easy going person who instantly recognizes the hidden talent in Meenakshi. He gets so impressed by her that he aspires to watch her as a divine goddess who dances at her pure heart! The story takes an interesting turn when Chandrasekhar along with his little friend Tinku move into the house of Omkaram ( who, thanks to his wife Akhilam played brilliantly by Srilakshmi is always indulged in doing puja!- I will come to that in detail later!) and watches how Meenakshi tries to escape dance classes at her wit’s end!
One such incident happens where Chandrasekhar spots Meenakshi intentionally throwing the anklets (Which are worn by while performing Dance )into a well and starts screaming saying the anklets are lost. Fortunately, all the people around her start believing her and right at the time when Meenakshi feels relieved,our dear hero enters the scene! He assures Meena’s father about the anklets and makes an honest attempt to get them back! What happened eventually is best watched in the video itself given in the below link through the brilliant expression of Meena and the cool-going nature of the hero!
The brilliance of dialogue writer Sainath is worth mentioning here. His simple yet witty dialogues have added so much to the flavour of the film and the most popular tagline in Telugu Cinema till date is said by Meenakshi in various appropriate situations “Ardham Cheskoru” ( Nobody understands!!) with such a brilliant ease shows the greatness of K.Vishwanath and the acting awesomeness of Bhanupriya!
Another wonderful aspect of K.Vishwanath sir’s films is that the characters do not sound fictional or artificial at any point of the time irrespective of the film’s subject. The way they talk, react and express themselves is too real to watch and of course a welcome treat for both Film critics as well as normal movie goers!
This is the time when the conflict between Meena and Chandu start in the film and the film progresses in such a way that how both of them contradict each other initially and what happens finally!!
This is just the beginning of the perfect shining of the Golden Lotus- which just opened itself to the readers who are not aware of it!! And to the readers who already know about it will remember it with glee and appreciate the film further when watched again!!
More to come by in the part 2 of the Golden Lotus!