The 80s was a golden period in Tamil cinema because it allowed to break the cinematic rules laid by yesteryear. Can you imagine a lean hero who just about 5’2 with a peculiar eyesight to become a hero? It did happen. It did take place in the 80s.
Pandiarajan, one of the prominent assistants of K Bhagyaraj debuted as a director through Kanni Raasi. It had Prabhu and Revathy in lead and to be honest it was a bold debut by Pandiarajan as he took the “Chevvai Dosham” (Mangalik Dosha in Hindi) concept head-on. When the debut was brilliant, what he followed became a cult classic comedy in Tamil cinema.
Aan Paavam (The sin of a man) (1986)
Ramasamy (VK Ramasamy), the village head has two sons Periya Pandi (Pandian) and Chinna Pandi (Pandirarajan) who always fight with each other but affectionate to each other. Ramasamy sends Periya Pandi to meet a prospective bride (Revathi) in a nearby village but he accidentally ends up in another house to meet Seetha (Seetha). He falls in love with her and the feelings are mutual.
Ramasamy is hell bent on making the original bride as his daughter in law but Periya Pandi tries to stop the marriage by directly talking to Revathy’s father. On hearing it, she attempts to commit suicide. Chinna Pandi saves her but she loses her ability to speak in the process. After the incident, Ramasamy decides to go ahead with the wedding but Chinna Pandi enacts a drama as if Periya Pandi and Seetha are dead. The parents lament that they would have got them married if they had stayed alive and the drama is disclosed. The whole village chases Chinna Pandi for cheating them and he is rescued by Revathy. They both come together in the process. All’s well that ends well.
The movie was produced by Alamu Movies, written and directed by R. Pandiarajan. Ashok Kumar wielded the camera while Ilaiyaraaja scored the music.
Why is it so special?
1. The movie broke the mould of light hearted comedies that came before. Aan Pavam is unpretentious, overt and clean comedy that never tries to be smart. No twists, No turns but the screenplay is so enjoyable that you wouldn’t mind it.
2. The sequences are genuinely funny and writing is impeccable. There are some scenes that are still discussed in popular culture – for example “Muttiducha” scene or the one when Pandiarajan asks his father, “Nee en ammava kalyanam pannikalam, naan un ammava kalyanam pannika kudatha” (You can marry my mother, why can’t I marry yours?) or the sequences with Janakaraj and his son Thavakkalai. All of them are simple but sharp witty dialogues make them pleasurable.
3. The lead actors shine but the brilliance of Pandiarajan and Revathy steal the show while supporting cast (VK Ramasamy, Poornam Viswanathan, Janakaraj and Thavakkalai ) makes it even more special. Pandirajan introduced Kollangudi Karuppayi, a folk singer as his grandmother and her witty exchanges with him are hilarious.
4. The music – the title song “Indiran Vandhadum” is a tribute to Tamil cinema while “Kadhal Kasakkudhayya” became the original “love” failure song for men. But the background score is one of the most memorable scores in Tamil cinema ever. The score that defines the love story between Pandian and Seetha is still a favourite of many Ilaiyaraaja fans.
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Why it should be on the list?
1. For being the precursor to all light hearted comedies that came after this movie. Light hearted Comedies that you have seen in the recent past will have some aspect of Aan Paavam in it and it showed Tamil cinema that treatment of a story is more important than the story itself.
2. For showing that Tamil cinema will accept a 5’2, lean figured man with surprisingly weird expressions as a hero. Pandiarajan went on to make many successful movies as a director and an actor. Content was really the king in the 80s and we have lost in transition.
3. A timeless comedy. I can bet that your children will laugh like the way you did if you show the movie to them. It’s almost 30 years since the release of this movie and it’s still part of the Tamil popular culture.
1. R. Pandiarajan was a long time assistant of K.Bhagyaraj. He debuted with Kanni Rasi (I have explained the story how he began working as a director in Mundhanai Mudichu post). He went on to direct and act in various movies. The most memorable ones are Nethiyadi, Manaivi Ready, Kathanayagan and Oorai Therinjikitten. He even composed music for Nethiyadi and now makes short movies. His short movie Help was featured in International Film Festivals like the Art Deco Film Festival (Sao Paulo)
2. Seetha also debuted in the movie. She went on to become a successful actress with movies like Unnal Mudiyum Thambi. Puthiya Paadhai was her career defining movie in which she also met her future husband R.Parthiban (another assistant of K.Bhagyaraj)
3. Kollangudi Karuppaiye was a folk singer in All India Radio. She was brought to movies by Pandiarajan. She was a regular in his movies and acted in many more but tragedy struck in her family as she lost her husband and daughter to road accidents. There is not any definitive news about her whereabouts as of now. It is sad because she is the pioneer of folk singing in Tamil cinema and the current folk singers acknowledge her contribution.
4. R.Pandiarajan did make a sequel of Aan Paavam with his son Prithvi in the lead. The story deals with the daughter of Pandian and Seetha (the lead pair of Aan Paavam). It didn’t do well at the box office.
5. The movie ran for more than 200 days and was a box office hit.
1. The Best of Tamil Cinema – Volume 2 by G. Dhananjayan
5. Image credit