Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thiruvilayadal (Tamil – 1965)

The Divine Sports The gem of Tamil Mythological Film                                                                           

The origin of Indian film movies were based on mythological stories, like Raja Harichandra, Panjaali. It was then common for all the languages to follow the same mythological films in their early years. Movie production ran into years, which paved the way for big studios to come-up with huge sets, this was at 1930’s – 40’s – 50’s. But in the later part of the 50’s with India becoming an independent nation, more social oriented films sprang up, especially in the South with the upliftment of Dravidian priciples. The entry of stars like MGR and Shivaji, with the exit of singer-actors MKT-PU Chinnapa, Tamil cinema moved more into social-oriented subjects, like rich-poor centric, family centric, crime-thriller, romance and sometimes even ghost-horror. Even though MGR was initially got into cinema, with the mythological roles, he didn’t get much of similar roles later, but Shivaji was a juggernaut in picking different roles.

“Thiruvilayadal”, The Divine Sport, is one such film by Shivaji (see the pic on right) directed by AP Nagarajan, who was famous for his mythological and devotional subjects. Shivaji later on went to do more such kind of films like Saraswathi Sabadam, Thiruvarulchelver, Kandan Karunai, but this film was a gem of the Tamil Mythological films.

The story was conceived by AP Nagarajan, he wrote the screenplay as a five part play, the stories were taken from an ancient Tamil epic, Thriuvilayadal Puranam, which consists of 64 stories, written by 64 nayanmargal ( Saivate devotees, like 12 disciples of Jesus, these Saivates were the devotees of Lord Shiva).
From the film: Shiva (Shivaji), Parvathi (Savithri), with their sons Vinayaka and Murugan

For those who don’t know about Hindu gods, here it is. A Hindu always falls in two broad categories, Saivate (Saivam) and Vaishnav (Vaishnavam). Saivate’es follows, Lord Shiva and his family and followers, like Parvathi, Muruga, Vinayaka and others. Some of Saivate famous temples are Kasi, Rishikesh, Rameshvaram and Thanjavur. Vaishnav’s follow Vishnu and incarnations, like Krishna, Rama and others, some of the famous temples are Puri, Thirupathi and Thiruchi. At earlier age, crusades were fought between these two sects, even now some hard core followers of this principle prevent themselves in entering to the opposite camp’ temple.

Part 1: Coming back to the film, it follows the Saivate concept and Shiva (Father), Parvathi(Mother), and their two sons Muruga and Vinayak are focused. The last four parts is narrated by Parvathi to her son Muruga in the first part when he is having a conflict with his parents. She says it’s a habit of Shiva to test his devotees by putting them into unusual kind of situation.

Famous Dharumi Scene
Part 2: This of the famous and most widely seen, infact I have to say, most widely heard part. When I say “heard”, there is a small flashback to be told, back in 1980’s-90’s when the temples around Tamil Nadu used the sound system, especially in the month of Adi, almost all the temples used to broadcast (loud) the sound-recording of this film, esp this part early in the morning, with the usual devotional songs. So then most of the dialogues are well known to the people. The story revolves around a poor-poet named Dharumi (Nagesh), who is helped by Shiva (Shivaji) to win a prize money, in the process Shiva argues with the great-tamil-poet Nakkeran (AP Nagarajan, the director), these scene is were Shiva makes the third-eye to appear in his forehead and burns the poet.

Part 5: I would go straight to Part 5, not that 3 and 4 are important, but Part 5 is where the real action takes plays, it’s were the most of the songs are placed and each are sung by the stalwarts of the Indian music, like TR Mahaligam, TMS and the legendary Balamurali Krishna. Also this part is where some of the great performance made by Shivaji and Balaiya.

The story goes like this, Hemanatha Bhagavathar (Balaiya) is a world acclaimed singer, who visits Madurai. (Song 1) He sings in Madurai Tamil Sangam (Ancient Tamil literary society) he is arrogant and challenges for one-on-one in singing. Unable to compete with him the Sangam-Singers withdraws, the king then by compulsion appoints Banabatar (TR Mahalingam), a simple guy who sings in temple to compete against Hemanatha Bhagavathar.  (Song 2) Banabatar unable to find a way out prays to Shiva. Here Shiva (Shivaji) enters the scene as a woodcutter and sings (Song 3) to teach a lesson for the arrogant Hemanatha Bhagavathar.

Song 1: "Oru Naal Pothuma" (Is one day enough for me to sing) sung by Balaiya in film (voice by Balamurali Krishna)

Song 2: "Isai Tamil Nee Seitha Arum Saadhanai"  (Your “shiva” works in musical tamil is great) sung by T.R.Mahalingam himself as Banabattar

Song 3: "Paattum Naanae, Baavamum Naanae" (I am the song, I am the expression) sung by Shivaji in film (Voice by T.M. Soundararajan)

Also featuring in the film is K. P Sundarambal, who was first actress in the olden days to get paid One Lakh in a movie. She is synonymous to role of the ancient-poetess Ovvaiyar.

It’s a must watch for grand costumes, good performances and the music by KV Mahadevan.

TMS and BalaMurali
Listed is the Youtube video of all three songs,

Song 1: Oru Naal Poduma - Balamurali Krishna

Song 2: Isai Tamil Nee Seitha Arum Saadhanai - T.R.Mahalingam

Song 3: Paattum Naanae, Baavamum Naanae - T.M. Soundararajan

Check this for entire movie with English Sub-Titles


Aarti said...

love this movie.. so much fun!

S said...

Watched this movie today...just loved everything about it!

I have a doubt though: How did Avvai come in between? is there a real story of Avvai meeting the entire family of Siva ...? The only one I heard of (Iam not a Tamil native) is that of that Roasted-Un Roasted Fruit.

S said...

Thanks for the video links, btw!

Ravi said...


Avvai is a strange character, I think she has to be a fictional character created by ancient people or there should be disciples\followers of her who were also called Avvai's, cause there is a tale which says she and Adiyamman ( who ruled Dharmapuri, still one can find his fort ) were kind of good friends. How come she is into mythological story arguing with gods.. strange..

Also if you get a chance see this film in Theaters now, its been released in the remastered version.

Replying to the comment after one month, hmm actually I didn't notice it at all or I wasn't active blogging..