Not so long ago, it was said that if you want to make a successful Tamil movie, you have to win the hearts of masses from the village. One of the reasons why MGR was so successful with his films was because he knew the perfect masala that will impress the masses. Although currently, the movies have become more multiplex oriented, one person who mastered this art was Bhagyaraj, and his masterpiece in this genre is Mundhanai Mudichu
Mundhanai Mudichu (The knot in the saree) (1983)
Mundhanai Mudichu is a story of Parimala (Oorvasi), daughter of the village head, lives her life by making pranks in the village along with a bunch of small boys. Bhagayaraj comes to the village as a schoolteacher with his child. Initially, Parimala continues her escapades with the teacher but later finds sympathetic as she discovers that he is a widower.
Attracted by his good behaviour, she falls in love with him and tries to woo him. After finding that he wouldn’t accept a second mother for his child, she accuses him of molesting her. During the interrogation, she pledges by stepping over teacher’s child to confirm that he molested her. And he is forced to marry her.
After the wedding, he openly tells her that she will remain celibate and he wouldn’t touch her as she cheated him. Parimala tries everything, but he stays the same because he firmly believes that she would mistreat his son if she has a child of her own. The remaining part of the story deals how Parimala gains the confidence of her husband.
Mundhanai Mudichu had Bhagyaraj and Oorvasi in the lead supported by Deepa, Kovai Sarala, Peeli Sivam and Thavakalai Chittibabu. AVM Productions produced the movie with Ilaiyaraaja scoring the music and Ashok Kumar wielding the camera. And of course, Bhagyaraj directed the film.
What’s so special about the movie?
1. Mundhanai Mudichu was unique because the story related to the deep-rooted cultural identity of the Tamil Nadu villages. It was as if Bhagyaraj took a camera inside a village and that’s what made the movie so close to reality.
2. The movie’s screenplay is one of the best made in Tamil cinema. Tightly strung screenplay with healthy doses of humour and sentiments struck a chord with the audience.
3. It gave Oorvasi to the world of movies. The story revolves around her, and she carried a powerful character on her shoulders with finesse. In fact, it was indeed a surprise because she was just 15 when she was roped in for the role and her second acting assignment.
4. The natural acting of supporting characters. In fact, most of the actors were new faces and perfectly fitted to the roles
5. The perfect combination of the screenplay, direction, acting and musical score.
Why is it on the list?
1. Arguably, one of the masterpieces in this genre. One of the movies that are still referred whenever people talk about rurally oriented films.
2. The movie became a trendsetter to rural milieu movies and ran for 200 days in theatres. In fact, AVM used letters from the audience to promote the film.
3. The crowning jewel of K.Bhagyaraj and he was not able to surpass the success he achieved in this movie.
1. Oorvasi started her career with Thodarum Uravu, but Mundhanai Mudichu was the first movie to release. Initially, her sister Kalpana was chosen for the film. Bhagyaraj spotted Oorvasi who accompanied Kalpana and picked her to be the heroine of the movie.
2. Although Kovai Sarala made her debut as a child artist, her first adult role was for this movie. She acted like a 32-year-old pregnant lady.
3. The film was remade in Telugu as Moodu Mullu. Interestingly, another producer dubbed the original as Vaddante Pelli. The movie was remade in Hindi as Masterji, with Rajesh Khanna and Sridevi in the lead and Halli Meshtru in Kannada.
4. It was quite usual for K.Bhagyaraj movies being remade in Hindi because of his taut screenplays.
5. Drumstick was referred as an aphrodisiac in the film. The scene became so famous that it has numerous references in various other movies. Bhagyaraj admitted that he got the idea from his grandmother. It serves as an example of how a pop culture reference moved into mainstream parlance.
6. During the filming of the movie, Pandiarajan, Livingstone and GM Kumar (assistants of Bhagyaraj) escaped from the shooting to narrate a story for a producer. There is a sequence in the movie after the main interrogation scene where Bhagayaraj scolds his three students for being false witnesses and calls them “guru dhrogigal” (betrayers of the teacher). And his assistants responded with an apology in Pandiarajan’s first movie (Kanni Rasi) by making a character like Bhagyaraj to bless them indirectly.
7. The movie was certified ‘A’ due to thematic elements but still became a huge hit with the masses.
8. The title song “Vilakku Vacha Nerathulla” was not originally part of the movie. As Bhagyaraj liked the tune, he made a title song and MN Nambiar, and his wife inspired the sequence. Nambiar’s wife always cooked for him even in the sets and Nambiar fed her the first spoon every time. Bhagyaraj saw this during the shoot of “Thooral Ninnu Pochu” and used it as an inspiration for this song.
9. The reason why I have referred Bhagyaraj’s character as “The Teacher” is that his character doesn’t have any name.
1. Koffee with DD show (Vijay TV) dated 8th February 2015 with K.Bhagyaraj and Pandiarajan
2. The Best of Tamil Cinema – Volume 2 by G. Dhananjayan
YouTube link for the movie