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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not surprisingly, most Indian heroines tend to induce a reflex orgy of vomit in serious movie fans.
Sujatha is one of the rare talents in Indian cinema on the female side.
By the time Sujatha ventured into Tamil movies, she had already done several Malayalam movies.
In Aval Oru Thodar Kathai, Sujatha, acquits herself well in the role of a stern, sacrificing elder sister forever concerned about her family members despite their frequent jabs of ingratitude.
Following her acclaimed performance, Sujatha went on to do other good movies like Avargal.
Kamal Haasan has a small but memorable role as the orphan staying in Kavitha’s house.
His goal is to be a singer but encounters repeated failure.
Mercifully, Kamal Hassan was still not Ulaga Nayagan (universal hero) when this film was made and he renders a restrained and noteworthy performance as the disappointed lover and failed music artiste
K.Balachander has been deservedly hailed as one of the best directors Tamil cinema has produced.
Many of his movies eschew the usual claptrap of invincible heroes, demure heroines, foreign locales and focus on small settings where personal relationships and conflict constitute the essence of the movie.
In an age when hero-centric films was the norm in Tamil cinema, Balachander deserves kudos for daring to make a movie with a girl playing the key role.
Besides directing Aval Oru Thodar Kathai, Balachander also wrote the screenplay and dialogs.
One of the interesting aspects of the movie is that although Kavitha is the centerpiece of the film there are other strong characters including her brother Murthy, the boss Chandrasekhar, her friend Chandra (Phataphat Jayalakshmi), her boyfriend Tilak, sister Bharathi, Kavith’s mother, the orphan Prasad and Chandra’s mother.
By the way, Jayalakshmi made her cinema debut in Aval Oru Thodar Kathai and earned the sobriquet ‘Phataphat’ Jayalakshmi for her character’s penchant to frequently use the ‘Phataphat‘ expression.
SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Aval Oru Thodar Kathai.
It’s one of those rare Tamil movies that you can sit through without puking your guts out.
Aval Oru Thodar Kathai is available on DVD at Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.