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Apoorva Ragangal (Unusual Melodies)/1975: Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, ‘Major’ Sundarrajan, Jayasudha, Srividya. Director K Balachander

In an era where every other moviemaker claims to have come up with a daring, original, premise, this 28-year-old film is worth remembering. Sundarrajan is a widower with one son, Kamal.

Srividya is a single mother with one daughter, Jayasudha.

Son fights with father and leaves home. Daughter fights with mother and ditto. Follows the twist: the father, Sundarrajan, meets and falls for the daughter, Jayasudha. The son, Kamal, meets and falls for the mother, Srividya.

The husband who abandoned Srividya returns, older and wiser, to add a knot to the already tangled skein of this story.

A trademark K Balachander film, this was the first to showcase Kamal’s histrionic abilities. The film is packed with set pieces. Most notably, the clashes between father and son over the intricacies of their impending relationships – will Kamal, when he marries Srividya, become his own father’s father-in-law?

It also provided the first instance of Kamal’s penchant to push for perfection – a desire that would, later in his career, overwhelm him. In this film, Kamal learnt the mridangam, so that he could play the percussion instrument on-screen to the manner born.

For trivia buffs, this is the film that introduced a Bangalore bus conductor by the name of Sivaji Rao Gaekwad to the Tamil screen, as Rajinikanth, the man who first deserts Srividya, his wife, and then returns in the film’s climax.

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