After an enthralling adventurous ride with Kshana Kshanam in the previous post of mine, now it is time to get back to the Fine Arts excellence from K.Vishwanath sir! Though I already discussed about Swarna Kamalam and Subhalekha from the same series, it gives me great previlige to write about this fantastic masterpiece today!
I wonder at times whether this should be called a Telugu Film at all for the wonders is showed and offered – in all respects! Let it be Direction,Acting, Dialogues, Photography, Music, Lyrics and Story-telling. Literally, I mean literally- every above mentioned field excels in this film. But what makes this unforgettable of the unforgettable films in Telugu Cinema?
Is it because of the depiction of a great character Balu (Kamal Hasan) – a gifted dancer but with bad luck in every phase of life, who in turn tries to keep the Art in him alive until the last breath?
Is it because of the wonderful Music by Maestro ILaiyaraja which earned him National Award for the same? In short the music flows with the scene and so does the songs!
Is it because of the direction brilliance of K.Vishwanath garu whose name is interchangeably used for Fine Arts films in Telugu and the dialogue power of Jandhyala which even added tremendous comedy element for the film?
Is it the dignified portrayal of Jayaprada for the role of Madhavi, who had all the extraordinary qualities and the earthliness needed for the character?
When I question myself about the same after countless times of viewing, I strongly feel that the human emotions coupled with the great Fine Arts values which India has is what makes the film most unique of all! This is one of those very rare films in Telugu Cinema which cannot be stopped from analyzing even in the near future- I am sure of this!
Without further ado, I would like to start off talking about this phenomenal film which came as a beautiful Sea wave which will always ease the audience with its breezy self and wonderful landscape (Ideal to the title of the film!).
The film begins with a dance performance by young aspiring dancer Shailaja (Played at best by Shailaja herself- Sister of veteran Singer S.P.Balasubhrahmanyam) for which our dear Hero (at his old age) attends to write a review on the same. The song is Om Namashivaya ( Sung by evergreen Janaki, I still see people undoubtedly saying it is her best till date!) with good start and as the performance progresses by, we can easily see the nature of Balu during the interludes. This shows his passion for perfection in Classical Dance, and the high standards which he looks for from a performance. But the shabby,battered look (Which he gets due to ill-health and so many twists and turns in the story- more of it later!) will look quite unbelievable for the first time watcher of the film.
In the mean time, Shailaja gets too involved in gaining the fame and good accolades for her dance, which makes her move out of focus from the dance performance and the classicism which has to be shown in the same. Balu, gets furious for one particular blunder which she makes during the dance, and coolly move out of the hall and writes a very critically damaging review about her performance. This shows the fearless shade of Balu, when perfection of dance is concerned!
Shailaja’s fiancée Kishore, who is quite an influential man in the city, gets furious seeing this review and the upset state of Shailaja – in turn calling Balu to his office to apologize Shailaja. He speaks in a very insulting tone (Going by the looks of Balu) and even uses abusive words in return. Balu gets highly furious but apparently decides to show his objection in his brilliant dance talent instead!
The scene which arrives now can be called as masterpiece of Telugu Cinema. It influenced not only people of those era but also for generations to come! It is not only a blow to artists who feel they are perfect in their dancing/music but how a minor contempt can create such a blunder as a result! Scenes like this in Telugu Cinema are what makes our Telugu Films most special and unforgettable at any juncture!
Scene 1:” PanchaBhootamulu” – Dance Marvel!
Oblivious to the tense atmosphere in the office and the angry state of Kishore and her as well, Balu coolly starts off the first charanam from the song Om Namashivaya (for which Shailaja performed on stage). He then asks Shailaja ( in a very cool yet serious tone) :
Balu : Ee charananam ninna ela abhinayinchavu?
How did you enact this particular charanam in the performance?
Shailaja looks too offended and disgusted to even answer to Balu’s questioning (Feels his unworthy of even to look at!)
Balu, prods Shailaja saying “Come on..Dance..” , looking at her reaction. But even when he doesn’t get a reaction, He provokes her saying “Yem Amma..Raadha?”
“What..you don’t know?”
Shailaja gets very angry and starts off dancing for the same, in which the charanam lyrics goes like Pancha Bhootamulu Mukha Panchakamai ( The five elements of earth are the expressed in the face), but she enacts showing as if they are bhootas (Ghosts instead!).Now, we come to know what was the biggest blunder which Shailaja did! The respect for Balu grows little now for not only the people there but also to the audience!
After Shailaja is done with it, Balu asks her “ Idhi Saasthreeya Nruthyemena”
“Is this Classical Dance which you did?”
Shailaja replies arrogantly saying “Ye Kaadha?”
“Is it not?”
Balu: Ye Saampradaayam?
“Which style ?”
Shailaja: “(Says Idiot in undertone) Yenni Sampradayalu unnayo kooda telusa neeku?Deenini Bharatanatyam antaru!”
Do you even know how many dance forms are there?This is called Bharatanatyam!
Now, Balu rewinds the tape and starts of getting ready to dance for the same. Everybody else in the scene, including Shailaja takes him lightly until he starts off dancing flawlessly for the same! Once he is done with the dance, he says in a very angry tone “Bharatanatyam ante idhi!”
“This is Bharatanatyam (For your information!)”
Before Shailaja could get relieved for the “lecture” given by Balu for wrong-portrayal of Classical Dance, Balu goes even more ahead by showing the same charanam depiction in different dance styles such as Kathakali, Kathak and so on! By the time scene ends, we see fear coming out of Shailaja and unexplicable shock, that how can a man being so shabbily dressed can dance with such an enormous perfection!
Watch the scene from the below link for the visual and musical excellence!
This sort of situation happens for everybody in real life, where we judge a person unknowingly by the way they dress and in their appearance. At times we even go overboard in assessing their abilities based on their dressing! This particular scene from Sagara Sangamam makes every viewer realize that one can never always do it!
If the viewer now thinks that Balu will start abusing Shailaja for the mistake she did, he/she will be mistaken! He calmly tells a very popular slokam from Natya Sastram “Yatho Hasthasthatho Drushti..Yatho Drushtisthatho Manaha..Yetho Manasthatho Bhaavaha..Yatho Bhaavosthatho Rasaha” ( Which means, the dance should have his/her total focus on what is being perfomed, which in turn gives a greater result in the final performance), and he gives a straight slap to Kumar for using abusive language for no reason on him (Serves him right!The audience will feel!) and while Balu makes a move, the security guard in the office salutes him (On behalf of all the viewers too!)
This is what I call the directorial touch of K.Vishwanath garu and sheer acting brilliance of Kamal Hasan- without any doubt!
Many questions arise to the viewer at this point of time- such as..what must have happened to this great dancer which brought him to such a shabby state in life, and a chronic smoker and drunkard? With talent like his, he should be somewhere in the great classical dance exponents of India! Does he have nobody to take care of in life..such as family?
And the questions never end..
More to come in Part 2 with the young Balu and the people who influenced,inspired and make him as a person along with brilliant comedy, Dance magic and of course breathtaking music!