G for G.N.Rangarajan
G.N.Rangarajan started his career as an Editing Apprentice in Bhimsingh’s team. He worked for almost 30 movies with Bhimsingh. Later, he worked as an assistant director to SP Muthuraman. He also worked with Kamal Hassan as a kid in Kalathur Kannama (A.Bhimsingh directed it). This relationship continued after Kamal Hassan became a star. G.N.Rangarajan made some excellent movies for Kamal Hassan, and he recollects that Kamal didn’t get a salary for three films he produced.
He introduced Deepan Chakravarthy as an actor in Rani Theni and adapted Karaiyellam Senbagapoo novel of Sujatha. G.N.Rangarajan had his training from SP Muthuraman, the master of masala entertainers and so GN Rangarajan took the same path with Kalyanaraman. Meendum Kokila showed that he could make an entertaining movie that was also critically acclaimed. He had a short directorial career and didn’t make any film after Maharasan. His son GNR Kumaravelan started his career as an assistant director to Balu Mahendra in Sathi Leelvathi and assisted Kamal Hassan in few movies. His debut directorial venture was Ninaithale Inikkum (a remake), but his Haridas was critically acclaimed, and he made his mark.
G.N.Rangarajan directed 13 films, and 7 of them had Kamal Hassan in the lead. It’s a pity that he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. I have tried to list all his movies.
List of movies directed by G.N.Rangarajan
- Kalyanaraman (1978)
- Rusi Kanda Poonai
- Meendum Kokila (1981)
- Kadal Meengal (1981)
- Ellam Inba Mayam (1981)
- Karaiyellam Senbagapoo (1981)
- Rani Theni (1982)
- Muthu Engal Sothu (1983)
- Aduthathu Albert (1985)
- Manakanaukku (1986)
- Meendum Pallavi (1986)
- Sir, I Love You (1991)
- Maharasan (1993)
Break-out movie: Karaiyellam Shenbagapoo
Karaiyellam Shenbagapoo was unique both as a novel by Sujatha and as a movie by GN Rangarajan. It was different for Sujatha because the story was a rural-based thriller with a folk songs undercurrent. The idea was given by Ilaiyaraaja and Sujatha obliged to create a beautiful novel. The folk songs were acquired from a book titled “Tamizhar Naatu Paadalgal” (‘தமிழர் நாட்டுப் பாடல்கள்’) compiled by Na.Vamanamalai. Sujatha took permission from the author to use them as part of the novel.
When Karaiyellam started as a series on Ananda Vikatan, there were a lot of producers who wanted to adapt the movie including Ilaiyaraaja, Pyramid Natarajan, Saavi and Panju Arunachalam. The film was supposed to be directed by Balu Mahendra with Shobha and Prathap Pothen. But producer Pyramid Natarajan wanted to have Sarath Babu in the lead, and the project was dropped.
After few months, GN Rangarajan directed the movie with Prathap Pothen, Sripriya, Sumalatha and Manorama in the lead. Sujatha wasn’t happy with the adaptation, but he did express that the actors and Ilaiyaraaja did their part well. To be honest, the movie was the most decent adaptation of a Sujatha novel because the other ones like Priya were massacres.
Kalyanaraman, a research scholar arrives at Meenatchipuram, to research on folk songs. He stays at an old Zamindar bungalow, and he starts to unearth some documents/diaries about the Zamindar. He is attracted to the village beau Velli (played by Sri Priya), but she is in love with her cousin Marutha Muthu (played by Sundar). Snehalatha (played by Sumalatha), the granddaughter of the Zamindar, comes to Meentachipuram to stake the claim on Zamindar’s properties. She is gets murdered, and everyone becomes a suspect. The rest of the story is how Kalyanaraman identifies the real murderer and the motive.
The movie’s strength is the excellent acting of the leads and supporting cast (Manorama and Thangavelu). The music was filled with folk songs, and Eriyilla Elandhamaram is a classic fusion of western and folk genres. GN Rangarajan had tried to be faithful to the original novel as much as possible, and that’s one of the probable reasons why the movie didn’t do well. The film ran for a meagre one week.
If you haven’t watched the movie or read the book, please do as both are worth your time.
YouTube link to the movie
Movies to watch
- Rusi Kanda Poonai
- Meendum Kokila
- Ellam Inbamayam
- Maharasan (not a great movie but can watch it for comedy and Kamal Hassan’s perfect Madras Bhashai)