Parijatham (1950) Movie Review
Vintage Heritage the film club that always travels back in time showed Parijatham made in 1950 in its June edition that also marked its seventeenth anniversary. It is no mean achievement for V H considering the minimum support the organisers have had in running it. The film should not be confused with the recent flick directed by K.Bagyaraj bearing the same title. This is a T.R.Mahalingam-M.V.Rajamma and B.S.Saroja starrer. It looks like the film has three story lines.
The first line which is the first part is about the well known myth of Naragasura. Naragasura, the demon king has invincible powers due to the boons he had received from Devas and with all that he wreaks havoc on everyone. Narada knows that only Bama, the wife of Krishna who was Naragasura`s mother in the previous birth can annihilate him. Narada adept in his his covert ways to achieve his goals subtly gifts a parijatham flower to Krishna and make him in turn gift it to his first wife Rukmani. As expected the demon king dies at the hands of Bama but not before making a request that his day of death be celebrated by people as Deepavali. The next story line has the same parijatham that breeds enmity in Bama against Rukmani. Finally she understands that Rukmani`s devotion to Krishna far exceeds her own, a humbling experience.
There is a third line which is a comic interlude that instersects the film throughout. N.S.krishnan, T.A.Mathuram and side kicks Kaka Radhakrishnan and Pulimootai Ramasamy take care of that. The casting is good. T.R.Mahalingam looks the puranic character Krishna he adorns. Needless to say he sings well. M.V.Rajamma looks regal and B.S.Saroja is distinctly villainous. The film has back to back songs. It looks like every scene has a lead with a song that opens to Elangovan`s dialogue. Narration is seamless and the credit goes to director K.S.Gopalakrishnan. He was not the K.S.Gopalakrishnan who began his innings with Sarada and went on to make many heroine oriented films later on. Photography by Jithen Bannerjee , music by S.Venkatraman and C.R.Subburaman and the sound by Dinsha K.Tehrani are the other credits.
But the film has the look of a play which was how many Tamil films had been made and are continued to be made. In one scene where Bama and her maid are alone, Bama suddenly pulls her closer and whispers a plan into her ear. When nobody is around what is the necessity for a whisper, one wonders. It is a stage trick but do not we see that in many films and television serials even today? The special effects are a big let down. The uprooting of a Parijatham tree and the flowers sailing across the skies are done poorly. May be that was all the technology available then. But to assess properly we might have to compare with the films made in those times using special effects.
After saying all that we are back to our million dollar question? What does the film offer to contempoaray audience like us? Should I say `precious little`? But wait. The hilarity of comedy is worth mentioning. NSK is a flutist who plays abaswara by default. He is taunted sharply but ever pleasantly by his wife T.A.Mathuram. Together they make great comedy. The scenes where NSK makes Krishna to confer on him the boon to make his flute recital melodious and Pulimootai Ramasamy explain to the demanding Mathuram that parijatham is not a flower at all have the viewers splitting their sides. Also among the many songs of the film, the one which I like most is the song sung by NSK about the virtues of the cow. It surely brings out the great love he has for other beings.
The film show attracted fewer people only. The organizers contended that the film had been shown in television channels several times earlier and hence the poor turn out. If that were so, in future V H should avoid screening such popular films from among the old.