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Aug 192012

Kavitha oru kavithai. Aval adhu kathai oru thodar kathai (Kavitha is a poem. Her story/struggle/sacrifice is never-ending)

Aval Oru Thodar Kathai
Cast – Sujatha, Jaiganesh, Kamal Hassan, Fatafat Jayalakshmi, Sripriya, Vijaykumar
Music: M.S.Viswanathan
Director: K.Balachandar

In some respects, the 1974 Tamil film Aval Oru Thodar Kathai is junk.

The story is wildly implausible, the acting of some of the characters below average, the photography pitiful and picturization of most songs below par.

Still the film went on to become a big hit and a classic, at least by Indian film standards.

Aval Oru Thodar Kathai is the only Tamil movie that has been remade or dubbed in five other Indian languages (Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada and Bengali).

So what accounts for the remarkable success of Aval Oru Thodar Kathai?

Four Virtues

Despite its many shortcomings, four things salvaged Aval Oru Thodar Kathai and rescued it from the dumpster where 99% of Tamil movies end up.

Aval Oru Thodar Kathai’s redeeming elements were great music (thanks to M.S.Viswanathan), an off-beat, heroine-centric film headlined by the late actress Sujatha, above average acting by Sujatha and an unusually restrained performance from Ulaga Madayan Kamal Haasan in a supporting role.

Sujatha made her Tamil debut in Aval Oru Thodar Kathai as a family’s eldest daughter Kavitha, who is the financial anchor and sole breadwinner of the large household.

Kavitha’s father has abandoned the family and vanished eight years back, the elder brother is a drunkard and the younger sister a widow.

There’s also a mother, another younger sister, a blind younger brother, a young niece and nephew and a baby to support.

Although it’s Kavitha’s earnings as a stenographer that keeps the household afloat, the family members tend to view her in harsh terms as a strict woman with an acerbic tongue.

Although yearning for a normal married life like all women, responsibilities toward the welfare of the family leaves her with no choice.

It’s Kavitha’s helpless situation that has turned her into an acerbic personality.

As the title strongly hints, Aval Oru Thodar Kathai is a movie that does not have a happy ending.

Successful Troika

In my opinion, three people deserve credit for the success of Aval Oru Thodar Kathai – director K.Balachander, music director M.S.Viswanathan and actress Sujatha.

Who played the bigger role in the movie’s success is hard for mortals to determine.

Perhaps, it was director Balachander who also penned the screenplay and wrote its dialogs.

Divine Music

As long as Tamil movie fans derive pleasure from music, Aval Oru Thodar Kathai will have a place in their hearts for its beautiful melodies.

Just one of countless gems wrought by the creative juices of ace music director M.S.Viswanathan.

Dheivam Thantha Veedu can justly lay claim to the honor of being one of the finest Tamil movie songs ever.

Song by Yesudas and picturized on Kavitha’s wayward elder brother Murthy (Jaiganesh) in the movie, the passage of time has not diminished its appeal to Tamil movie fans.

I wouldn’t describe the picturization of the song as great but it wasn’t too bad either.

But what I found incongruous was that the song with meaningful lyrics was picturized on a no-good, lazy drunken bum in the movie.

Kannilae Enna Undu, Kadavul Amaithu Vaitha Medai and Adi Ennadi Ulagam are the other pleasing songs from this movie and have all stood the test of time.

In the Tamil Nadu of the 1970s, songs from this movie were constantly blaring out on radio and loudspeakers at marriages and other public functions.

Deivam Thantha Veedu

Kannilae Enna Undu

Kadavul Amaithu Vaitha Medai

Adi Ennadi Ulagam


The fame of most Indian heroines owes more to family connections, their gleeful willingness to shed their inhibitions and clothes to titillate the audience and being in the ‘good’ books of heroes. Continue reading »