Kurinji Flower blossoms every 12 years. Likewise, actresses who take your breath away are quite rare. Shobha was a Kurinji flower who left this world prematurely. Although we have discussed her in Mullum Malarum, this movie fetched her the national award for best actress. She still holds the record for the youngest national award winner (of course barring Child actor awards)
Pasi directed by VC Durai and produced by G Lalitha under Sunitha Cine Arts told the story of Chennai slums for the first time in Tamil Cinema. Tamil cinema discussed the poverty in Villages and the middle-class life of the cities but never gave a thought to the presence of those people who lived on daily wages.
Pasi is the story of Kuppamma (Shobha) who is born in a huge family of 7 siblings. Her drunkard father Manian (Delhi Ganesh), who is a rickshaw puller doesn’t care about much about his family while her mother Valliamma (Tambaram Lalitha) tries to make both ends meet. As Kuppamma’s educated elder brother ditches the family for a girl, she decides to work for the benefit of her family. She and her friend Chellamma (Sathya in her debut role) start rag picking. Kuppamma befriends a truck driver Rangan (Vijayan), and their relationship develops in to love. Their intimate relationship is consummated before marriage and Kuppamma becomes pregnant. Kuppamma finds that Rangan is already married and her mother commits suicide. Kuppamma refuses any help from Rangan, continues with her pregnancy and protects him too. Rangan’s wife finds about Kuppamma and decides to bring her home, but Kuppamma dies because of pregnancy complications leaving the child with Rangan and his wife.
Pasi is not an easy movie to watch. It is a movie that will make you cringe in your seats because of moral/ethical questions that you will face while watching the movie.
Why is it so special?
- Pasi was the first movie that gave a realistic portrayal of Chennai. It never got any place in our films before Pasi. The movie was shot in real slums without any makeup whatsoever for the actors.
- The beautiful depictions of slum life by the actors. It would have been a challenge. If Shobha was scintillating, supporting cast was equally brilliant. Most of them made their debuts in this movie. Pasi Sathya, Delhi Ganesh, Vijayan and Lalitha played their part with authentic rusticity
- The director chose to weave a script around the slum dwellers, and life of Kuppamma is just representative. A thin line of dark comedy runs throughout the movie. The only glitch in this movie is the unwanted comedy track from Suruli Rajan.
Why is it on the list?
- A trendsetting landmark movie that showed the real Chennai life of slum dwellers.
- For the guts of VC Durai and the risk taken by G Lalitha (Producer) took with this story that resembled reality.
- For Shobha, one of the most talented actors that Tamil cinema lost.
- Shankar-Ganesh did the film’s original score. The movie didn’t have any songs.
- Delhi Ganesh, Pasi Sathya and Senthil made their Tamil debuts with this movie. Delhi Ganesh was in Indian Air Force where he staged plays. He continued with stage play acting career in Balachander’s stable.
- Senthil too started his career with stage plays and got his break with Malayalam movie – Itti Karai Pakki, but his Tamil film debut was Pasi.
- Pasi Sathya made her debut, and the name of the movie stuck with her. A talented character artist, she did some memorable roles in movies like Marupadiyum, Magalir Mattum etc
- Shobha won the National Award for this film when she was only 17. Started her career as a child artist, she bamboozled the Southern cinema audience with her performances in movies like Nizhal Nijamagirathu, Mullum Malarum, Moodu Pani and Pasi. She had a turbulent and much talked about relationship with Balu Mahendra (they were said to be married) and died under mysterious circumstances just one day before the 100th-day function of Pasi. The real-life funeral footage was used in Samanthipoo, one of the last movies she acted. Her demise created an irreplaceable vacuum in Tamil Cinema.
- The movie won the National Award for Best Regional Language Film (Tamil), Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Film, Best Actor (Special award) for Delhi Ganesh and the Best Film Award at the Filmfare Awards (South)
- Kamal Hassan appeared as himself in the movie as Chellamma’s character is an ardent fan of him.
- VC Durai has some interesting movies to his kitty – Neeya, Ayiram Jenmangal and Kilinjalgal but he made his mark by creating this masterpiece.