Friends, here is a brief review of the movie “Tamarai Nenjam” that was directed by K Balachander and released in 1968.
B Sarojadevi, the veteran Tamil actress was an underrated actress during her times. Her popularity was its peak when she married Shri Harsha to settle down to matrimonial bliss in Bangalore way back in 1967. Tamarai Nenjam was one of the last few movies in Tamil wherein she appeared as a leading lady. I did read somewhere that the movie was inspired by an English movie.. can someone recall its name?
This is the only KB movie that Sarojadevi starred in. May be they could not get along or maybe there were no roles suitable for her in other KB movies. In the later movies of KB made in early 70’s it was Sowcar Janaki and Jayanthi who were often the leading ladies. Even Jayalalitha acted only in one movie that was directed by KB (Major Chandrakant).
But Tamarai Nenjam is dominated by both the leading ladies Vanishree and Sarojadevi all the way. Yes, it looks a bit theatrical at times but the narration is gripping. Two women falling in love with the same man is a theme that has often been portrayed by KB on the big screen (Iru Kodugal comes to memory). Earlier director C V Sridhar had made the immensely successful “Kalyana Parisu” that had made “Bhaskar” and “Vasanthi” household names in Tamil Nadu.
In Tamarai Nenjam, again it is the same lead pair of Sarojadevi and Gemini Ganeshan and the love triangle is completed by Vanisree (fresh from the success of “Uyarndha manidhan”). A young woman Kamala (Sarojadevi) takes up a job as a governor in a widower’s house. Major Sundarrajan plays the widower with three kids and Murali (Gemini) plays his younger brother who is often rebellious.
Kamala falls in love with Murali however Murali is attracted to the charms of Radha (Vanisree). Kamala and Radha are close buddies and so Kamala sacrifices her love for Radha as she knows that Murali does not love her. Murali and Radha get married and Kamala continues to serve as a governess. Nagesh plays “Nadu Road Narayanan” a man who has epilepsy and is in dire need of a job and often creates fights among others.
Kamala writes a poem that is published in a magazine. It is appreciated and she becomes a writer. She pens down her own story as a serial and towards the end, her friend Radha finds out the sacrifices that Kamala has made for her. The movie ends on a tragic note with Kamala committing suicide.
Major Sundarrajan is wasted in an inconsequential role. We all know the chemistry that Major shared with Nagesh in “Ethir Neechal”. That chemistry is missing in this movie. Gemini is his usual self playing the lover boy with elan. But the film belongs to Sarojadevi who has immense scope for displaying her histrionics and she does full justice to her role. Even Vanisri has done a commendable job as Radha.
It is to KB’s credit that when you watch Kamala you can only see Kamala and not the glamorous star Sarojadevi. Vanisri looks pretty. It was often rumoured that a dusky Vanisri made friends with the cameraman so that he would project her better on the screen with appropriate lighting. The movie is mostly shot indoors and this proves to be tiring at times. After all KB was a playright once upon a time and so this is getting reflected in frame after frame.
Highlights of the movie:
1. Nuggets of wisdom from Nagesh - “Your past is like an invalid cheque; do not brood over it. Your future is like a life insurance policy where the money will come after your death. Your present is like winning a horserace where you can earn money and not pay taxes. So enjoy your present.”
2. The climax scene where Sarojadevi converses with Nagesh on the phone is very poignant. There is no melodrama but only real emotions on display. This scene is definitely a must-watch. As she keeps on swallowing one sleeping pill after the other, Nagesh realizes that Kamala is not just telling him the final part of her story but also demonstrating it in real.
3. Flashes of KB’s directorial touch are seen throughout the movie.
4. The metaphor informing us about the lotus flower’s unrequited love with the sun is somewhat creative.
The movie flopped at the box office. Notwithstanding its box office status, “Tamarai Nenjam” is worth watching at least once.