Kanyakumari(1974)- Haasan’s Malayalam Film

Kamal Haasan and Rita Bhaduri in Kanyakumari (1974)

After watching Kanyakumari (1974) by the KS Sethumadhavan – MT Vasudevan Nair duo, there are places your eyebrows go, at times in puzzlement, at times in amusement and at times with sheer curiosity. These are what I felt had to be put down in a separate, yet related note. Who knows, you would find more, once you have watched the movie, or recall it from the times you watched it four decades back.

The Valluvanadan dialect in Kanyakumari.

The last thing you would expect is finding the entire cast of a narrative based in Kanyakumari speaking in the typical Valluvanadan dialect  from a young girl born and brought up on the Kanyakumari coastline, if you ask me. I mean, the entire “literary content that weaves the fabric of the movie” is Valluvanadan, which has nothing to do with the coastal town.

A really marked deviation in casting.

The casting of Kamal Haasan, whose character Shankaran in the Screenplay almost makes you chuckle looking at Kamal Haasan in the movie. Then again, it must have been factored in by the duo, for all you know for reasons of its own.

KS Sethumadhavan introduces this hustler and her husband  into the narrative, which,  frankly does not add anything to the flow of the narrative. The “why” of it is still beyond me.

A Song before its time.

There is an instance of  Parvati humming Kadali Chenkadali from Ramu Karyat‘s Nellu (1974) in one of her jaunts around the beach, which is amusing since Nellu was released on 23rd August 1974, whereas Kanyakumari was released on 26 July 1974  Maybe, just maybe, Parvati so liked the song that she got lucky enough to listen  in an early audio release of the movie from Kanyakumari.

The Urban Myth of Kanyakumari’s Mayamma

If you were around in the 70’s and early 80’s in Kanyakumari, or in southern Kerala, it would have been very difficult to not have heard of this “phenomenon” named Mayamma who wandered about half-naked on the beach-fronts of Kanyakumari, with her sagely toothless smile and a faithful pack of stray-dogs that tagged along wherever she went.  I was surprised to find a website on her, which waxed eloquent on her “divinity”.




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