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December 7, 1999
NRI Produces Documentary On Bharathi
Prakash M Swamy in New York
For a long time, Dr N Muruganandam had wondered why there wasn't a detailed documentary on firebrand poet and nationalist Subramania Bharathi whose poems had riled the British so much that they not only banned his work but also banished him from the Raj.
Bharathi, who died at 39, is revered across Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, and Sri Lanka.
"No authentic and detailed documentary has been made on Bharathi, who continues to inspire millions all over the world," said Murugandam, a senior scientist at Union Carbide. "There were some unsuccessful attempts made earlier to produce a feature film."
Over a year ago, with the help of the Cinthanai Vattam (Thinkers Forum) and the Tamil Association of New Jersey, he decided to produce an hour-long documentary.
It was shot in Madras, Pondicherry and at Ettayapuram, where the poet was born. It gives a glimpse of Bharathi's life in pre-Independent India, including the mutual admiration shared by Mahatma Gandhi and the poet.
The documentary, scripted by novelist Professor Indra Parthasarathy, describes Bharathi as the first democratic poet in Tamil. Bereft of verbosity and pomp, his poems touched the hearts of common man.
It effectively portrays important milestones in his life including the various facets of the poet, such as his love for Goddess Sakthi, gender equality, primordial power and vision that inspired millions of people.
The video film shot in Betacam has Bharathi's famous literary works, such as Kuil pattu, Kannan pattu and Panchali Sabatham. It is directed by Amshan Kumar, who has also directed an English documentary called Third Eye.
The documentary has interesting interviews with those who have known and met Bharathi. The list includes 91-year-old K P Kalyanasundaram Iyer and 97-year-old Na Ramaswamy Iyer who knew the poet well.
Shot on actual locations and interspersed with rare pictures of the poet, interesting anecdotes, interviews and Bharathi's songs, the documentary has succeeded in portraying the life history of the poet and freedom fighter from his birth at Ettayapuram in 1882 to his final days in Triplicane, Madras in 1921.
Cinthanai Vattam and Tamil Association of New Jersey have arranged for a screening of the documentary on the occasion of poet's birth anniversary on December 11 at 2 pm at Hillsborough Municipal Complex, Hillsborough, New Jersey, followed by a discussion and video projection of the release ceremony in Madras.
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