Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Predicament of three fathers- in- law.


    The Indian soil is flooded with more stories of mothers-in-law than fathers-in-law.To be a mother-in-law,is a role of  utmost domestic importance and home routine relevance.The general perception in women is that, a good  mother-in-law is a precious commodity. There is a Tamil film song sung by K.J.Yesudas which says'a woman's enemy is another woman'. This theory is more applicable between a mother-in- law and daughter-in-law,however good each is towards the other.Tamil Cinema has often enrolled P.Kannamba,Pandarbhai and M.V.Rajamma as sweet mothers-in-law and C.K.Saraswathi and Sundaribhai as ill-tempered mothers-in- law.

   Even Manorama was projected as a crude mother-in-law in V.Sekar's Naan Petha Magane. In fact,she was more a possessive mother,that made her a bad mother-in-law in that film.Tamil films also showed mothers-in-law, shabbily treating their sons-in-law in movies like Panama Paasama,Poova Thalaiya {S.Varalakshmi as mother in law in both the films} Kuzhandhai yum Dheivamum{G.Varalakshmi} Pattikkaada Pattanama {Sukumari}Sakala Kala Vallavan {Pushpalatha}and Maappillai{Srividya}.

   Contrarily,a widowed father-in-law's profile reflects distinct dimensions both in terms of gender and emotional status.Generally,fathers who are doting on their daughters,look for safe sons-in-law,in whose hands their daughters will stay protected for ever.However,we may come across a prejudiced father-in-law or a dignified father-in-law facing unexpected problems and being misunderstood by their daughters-in- law or sons- in-law.We would have come upon quite a few memorable fathers-in-law in Tamil Cinema.However,three such characters are stuck to our memory by their unique predicament and the way they overcame that predicament,with  either depression or dignity.

    The predicament of depression encircled the life of the Zamindar of Selvapuram in the film Naanum Oru Pen made by the big banner AVM studios.But it  was faced with dignity by both Dr.Dwarakanath{a renowned opthalmologist}in Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum produced by Muktha Films and a village head called Muthaiya in 'Komban' directed by Muthaiah.The actors who outlived their roles in the characters were S.V.Rengarao, Sivaji Ganesan and Raj Kiran respectively.

  Selvapuram Zamindar had a child-like mind frame.As a widowed father of two sons,he wanted them to marry graceful girls and add more elegance to the Zameen.But due to the evil designs of a close relative,his elder son happened to marry an illiterate girl with a very dark complexion.This came as a rude shock to the Zamindar,though his son who believed in self-respect,and cherished self dugnity,whole heartedly accepted the girl as his wife.

   To add fuel to the fire the devilish relative yarned a story of illicit post marital relationship between the Zamindar's dark skinned daughter-in-law and his younger son who was respectfully moving with his sister-in- law and was earnestly trying to make her a literate.The Zamindar blindly believed the nasty tale and expelled both his daughter-in-law and younger son from home.

  The climax showed the 'cursed'daughter-in-law relieving the zameen property by disclosing the details of a false document prepared by the relative which contained details of the transfer of  the entire zameen property into his name. The degraded,illiterate daughter-in-law,now became a literate and saved the zameen by reading out the contents of the shady document.

   The Zameendar realized the all time truth that beauty is only skin deep and it is the merit of character that matters.He apologised to his angel like daughter in law and became a doubly happy father-in-law.S.V.Rengarao beautifully played the role of a depressed father-in- law with the  substantial support of most talented actors like  S.S.Rajendran and A.V.M Rajan as his sons, C.R.Vijayakumari as the dark angel daughter-in- law and M.R.Radha as the fiendish relative.

  The plight of the opthalmologist father-in-law was more poignant than that of the Zamindaar. His son had spoilt the life of an innocent girl and the girl's blind brother came with to the eye doctor with a sickle stating that he needed an eye surgery so that he could regain his vision and kill the guy who spoilt his sister's life.When the doctor came to know that it was his son who was the flirt and that he had to give vision to a guy who was bent upon killing his deceitful son,it became the biggest challenge in his life.

  The other rude shock that struck the doctor was the disheartening medical information regarding a fatal disease of his most endearing daughter-in- law.The opthalmologist was in a double whammy situation.On the one hand he had to hide the immoral,premarital flirting of his son and on the other hand, the secret of the impending death of his daughter-in-law. Interestingly,his shrewd daughter in law came to know that she was facing a life killing disease.At the same time she also understood that her father-in-law knew the person who had betrayed the blind man's sister.

   The film hit the mind of the audience scene after scene,by beautifully presenting the delicate layers of the conversation between the father-in-law and daughter in law and the conflicting moments between the father and son.Sivaji Ganesan with his own fineness in role play,excelled in showcasing his predicament and Saridha as his cute daughter in law became his perfect foil.Both Sarathbabu as the wayward son and Jai Shankar as the vengeful blind man did their best in taking the film closer to the hearts of the audience.

  The dead daughter in law's eyes offered vision to the man seeking revenge.Forgiveness followed as the corollary of the noble sacrifice of the beloved daughter-in-law of a passionate father in law.The father-in-law role was a cake walk for the Chevalier.With the pestering predicament of the role,it became another feather to the classic performance ability of Sivaji Ganesan as an all rounder in acting.

    The village head father-in-law of 'Komban',was an unruffled and seamless character breezily performed by Raj Kiran.How easily he took the rude,insulting  pot shots of his ruffian like son-in- law strikingly played by Karthi.The film with its rural milieu became an excellent village drama with the devil-may-care,fatherless son-in- law,perceiving the inherent father element in his father-in-law and accepting him as his father,based on the-latter's venerable character.

  The second half of the film demonstrated the strong bonding between the father-in-law and his son-in-law,through the scenic portrayal of dialogue and action;letting the audience accept them not as characters on the screen but as persons in reality with an innate respect for each other.Here the predicament of the father-in-law was to passively endure humiliating moments thrown upon him by his uncouth son- in-law,as repulsive modes of behaviour purely for the sake of seeing his daughter lead a blessed life;in the hands of an other wise,wife doting husband.

  Though Komban specialized in rural rituals and village feuds,it was the underlying theme of the unseen emotional layers between a hurt father- in-law and a hurting son in law that hit the screens as a refreshing drama.When the hurting events transformed  into a healing sequence of actions,'Komban' became a delightful movie watching experience.

   This post found its 'black and white script' follwing a heartening,nostalgic journey of the blog writer,on his movie bound memory lane.