Some movies stand out because of performances. Some movies impress you because of the screenplay and direction. Some might bowl you over with cinematography. This movie will baffle you because every aspect of the movie will sweep your feet off.
Moondram Pirai (1982)
Moondram Pirai is a story of Bhagyalakshmi (Sridevi) who gets affected by retrograde amnesia after an accident. She lands up in a brothel and meets Cheenu (Kamal Hassan). Owing to her childish character, Cheenu sympathises with her and rescues her. As she doesn’t remember her parents or her whereabouts, he gets her to Ooty and names her Viji. Their relationship grows gradually and Cheenu falls in love with Viji. Cheenu finds an ayurvedic practitioner to cure Viji. Meanwhile, Viji’s parents find her whereabouts through a passenger who saw Viji and Cheenu on a train. They find that she is getting treated at an ayurvedic hospital. Viji gets back her memories and prepares herself to go back with her parents. And the movie concludes in one of the most heartbreaking climaxes you have ever seen in Tamil cinema.
Sathyajothi Films produced the movie and Ilaiyaraaja scored the music.
Why is it special?
1. The movie is special because of the bold story it portrayed. One question will linger in your mind at the end of the movie – is it possible to fall in love with a girl who is not in her senses? The screenplay is so deft that it makes you believe that it was possible.
2. The performances of the lead actors – Kamal Hassan and Sridevi. If Sridevi slowly collected her boundaries scene by scene for 120 minutes, Kamal hit flurry of sixes in the last 10 minutes. Their performances are so delectable that you will be in love with them. You will see why that generation was obsessed with this lead pair like no other.
3. The performances of supporting characters especially Silk Smitha as the sex starved wife who lusts on Cheenu, proved that she is more than just an item number dancer.
4. The cinematography is deemed to be a milestone in Indian cinema. Revered by many cinematographers, the movie was influential in the glorification of this particular technical aspect
5. Songs and musical score of Ilaiyaraaja are regarded as classics in Tamil cinema. The climax sequence is the testimony for the perfect harmony of performance from the actors, the directorial brilliance and haunting background score.
Why is it in the list?
1. One of the best love stories to be told on celluloid and a perfect movie with respect to every aspect of movie making.
2. The movie was lauded by critics and was revered by the audience. It was the biggest hit of Balu Mahendra’s career and the movie ran for 379 days in Sathyam theatres, Chennai.
3. For marrying the boundaries of art and commercial cinema. The movie’s Hindi version, Sadma, reinstated Kamal Hassan as a threat to the existing clans of Bollywood after his debut in Ek Tuhje Ke Liye in 1981. It also cemented the position of Sri Devi because she had a critically acclaimed Sadma and a commercially successful Himmatwala.
1. In an interview with Anu Hassan on her Koffee with Anu Show (Vijay Tv), Balu Mahendra admitted that the movie was indeed a metaphor for his relationship with Shobha who passed away in 1980.
2. Kanne Kalaimane became the last song written by Kaviyarasu Kannadasan and was rendered by KJ Yesudas. Kannadasan passed during the making of this film.
3. The movie was dubbed in Telugu under the title Vasantha Kokila, but Balu Mahendra decided to remake the movie in Hindi with most of the cast from the original repeating their roles. Sri Devi’s role was offered to Dimple Kapadia, but she couldn’t give dates for the movie.
4. One interesting aspect of Sadma is that tunes of two songs were replaced from the original – Vaanengum Thanga Meengal was replaced Yeh Hawa Yeh Fiza and Poonkatru Pudhiranathu was replaced by Aye Zindagi Gale Lage Hai. Aye Zindagi used the same tune as En Vazhvile of Thambikku Endha Ooru. Gonjasufi, an American singer sampled Yeh Hawa for his song Sheep.
5. Balu Mahendra and Ilaiyaraaja started their association with Moodupani. Their partnership had an unbroken run for 21 movies in 33 years until his last movie Thalaimuraigal. A long lasting friendship that gave Tamil cinema some wonderful music to cherish
6. Kamal Hassan won the National award for Best Actor and Balu Mahendra received the National Award for Best Cinematography. Sridevi lost the award to Shabana Azmi who won it for Arth. Incidentally, Balu Mahendra remade Arth in Tamil as Marupadiyum.
YouTube link for the movie (with subtitles)
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You can access the remaining 24 movies from the below link