Shooting film songs

Picture the song: Fragments of an idyllic romance in ‘Poongatru Puthiraanathu’ from ‘Moondram Pirai’

Balu Mahendra’s psychosexual drama features a knockout song that was rearranged in the Hindi remake with the same results.

Acclaimed director Balu Mahendra’s films were routinely described as “cinematic” – meaning they were far less wordy and theatrical than most other movies and relied on the elements unique to the seventh art to convey meaning and create emotions. Common strands in Mahendra’s titles, including the Summer of ’42-inspired Azhiyadha Kolangal (1969), Moondram Pirai (1982) and Sandhya Raagam (1989), are realism, evocative and naturalistic cinematography, strong performances, and psychosexual themes that drive the characters to make unusual and often tragic choices.

Moondram Pirai is perhaps the best known Mahendra film outside Tamil Nadu since it was remade in Hindi as Sadma in 1983. The unconventional plot, powerhouse performances from the leads Kamal Haasan and Sridevi, Ilaiyaraaja’s score, and the tragic climax have ensured Moondram Pirai’s place in Indian film history.

The plot wouldn’t pass muster today. Srinivas (Haasan) rescues from a brothel a woman (Sridevi) who has regressed to an infantile state after an accident with no memory of her past. The school teacher takes the woman, whom he christens Viji, to his house near Ooty. In the mist-laden town, far away from conventional morality and rationality, a romance blooms between the adult man and the child woman. One of the movie’s best-loved songs is Kannae Kalaimane, a lullaby written by the veteran lyricist Kannadasan, but the standout track that displays Mahendra’s command over the medium is Poongatru Puthiraanathu, fabulously sung by KJ Yesudas.

Poongatru Puthiraanathu is a montage song, rather than a lip-synced track, comprising vignettes that indicate the level of intimacy between Srinivas and Viji. The clip-clops of a horse segue into the song’s opening beats and set off a series of unforgettable images. Viji sees a man ride by and mimics him – by perching on a donkey.

With tremendous economy, Mahendra conveys the dependency that has developed between Srinivas and Viji. He tries to teach her to write, feeds and cares for her as he would a child and pretend smokes with her in the mist. Perhaps no image conveys the deep bond between the two than the one in which Viji puts her ear to a railway track to catch the sound of an incoming train, only to have Srinivas place his ear to hers.

The fallibility of the relationship, which depends entirely on Viji’s regression and amnesia, will be proven soon enough. Until tragedy arrives to ruin Srinivas’s idyll, he has his moments with Viji, and in his head, every one of them is perfect and beautiful.

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Poongatru Puthiraanathu from Moondram Pirai (1982).

Mahendra remade Moondram Pirai as Sadma the following year, and except for a few cast changes, kept the original narrative untouched. There was at least one crucial difference. Ilaiyaraaja rearranged Poongatru as the equally sublime Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le, sung this time by Suresh Wadkar and written by Gulzar. The tunes are similar but also different, and the montage is differently edited. Mahendra reshot and rearranged some of the shots, but the crucial train portion intact plays out at the same point and with the same violin interlude in the background.

Whether in Tamil or Hindi, the story is one of love based on a false premise. The denouement also involves a train sequence, justly cited as one of Haasan’s most powerful screen moments.

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Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le from Sadma (1983).
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These GIFs show you what it means to miss breakfast

That monstrous roar is your empty stomach.

Let’s take a glance at your every day morning routine. You crawl out of bed, go for a quick shower, pull out and wear your neatly ironed clothes at the speed of light and then rush out of the house, making sure you have your keys and wallet in place.

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You walk into office, relieved because you have made it to work on time. Stifling yawns and checking emails, you wonder how your colleagues are charged up and buzzing with energy. “What is wrong with these people” you mumble to yourself.

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Slowly, you start to change. You start snapping at colleagues and start arguing with your computer. You take out your frustration on anything or anyone in sight.

To add to the aggressive behaviour, you’ve completely lost your focus. After some time, you simply forget what you were doing.

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Unable to bear the hunger pangs, you go for a mid-morning snack. It is only when a colleague asks you for a bite do you realize that you have developed into a fully formed, hunger fueled, monster. Try not to look at yourself in the mirror.

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If only you had spared not even twenty or ten but just 5 minutes in the morning and not skipped breakfast, your story would look completely different - as you will see in this video.

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The fast dip in your mood and lack of focus is because your body has missed its most important meal of the day – breakfast. Research has shown that skipping a meal, especially in the morning, worsens the mood because there is a drop in the blood sugar. This in turn affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals produced in the brain that control our moods and feelings. In simpler English, not having breakfast is going to make you really cranky and confused!

Morning is also when the body needs maximum nutrition to function efficiently through the day as you’ve just woken up from a full 7 hours of no food (and if you’re sleeping less than that, that’s a whole other article).

So in short, having a breakfast could make you go from looking like the earlier GIFs to this:

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But with changing lifestyles and most people hard pressed for time, a healthy breakfast is taking the backseat. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. MTR has come up with a range of widely loved Indian delicacies like Poha, Upma and Halwa which can be made in (hold you breath) just 3 minutes! All you have to do is add hot water and wait for 3 minutes to get a delicious and filling breakfast.

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These amazing and delicious breakfasts can be made in a jiffy and consumed with the least hassle, even in the midst of your frenetic morning routine. So grab your #MTRbreakfastin3 to start the day on an awesome note.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MTR and not by the Scroll editorial team.