BHUVANA ORU KELVIKURI - BHUVANA A QUESTION MARK !
For a movie that has the heroine's name in the title itself, it is strange that the heroine's entry happens more than 45 minutes after the film commences. Yet Sumitra who plays the titular role is a big disappointment. She demonstrates flashes of brilliance - no doubt on that front however this movie is more hero-centric and the title is misleading.
This was a serial story written by low profile Tamil writer T K Balasubramanian alias Maharishi who was born in Tanjore but settled in Salem. The story was published in "Kumudam" magazine and received wide appreciation. His job in the electricity board may have prevented him from giving publicity to his works but more than that the brilliant writer who focused (on most occassions on Brahmin families & their problems) mostly on social issues never hogged for credit or limelight. A man who is so creative and yet someone who doesn't crave for attention - it is so rare to see someone like TKB in today's world. He was not a prolific writer like Sujata or Rajesh Kumar and in his 1985 interview the author has said that he would not compromise on his morals or values and run behind magazines.
It is strange that Tamil magazines like Kalki, Kumudam & Jannal do not approach such writers who still have potential despite advancing age. (Jannal looks like a copy of Ananda Vikatan - I had great hopes after seeing the magazine's push strategy but I am disappointed. Its price is not worth the content).
Tamil actor Sivakumar has had the privilege of working in 3 movies that were based on Maharishi's stories - Bhadrakali, Saynthadamma Sainthadu and Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri. I personally did not like Sivakumar's performance in Bhadrakali but in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri his restrained acting won my heart over. Yet one is appalled at his dialogue delivery - why does he speak so fast!
Why was this movie given an "A" rating is something I am unable to understand. This was may be Sivakumar's first and last role in a character with grey shades. Rajinikant however bowls you over with his controlled acting and award winning histrionics.
A slighty plump Jaya plays the second lead in this movie but she is as beautiful as she was in her second movie - Kanimuthu Papa (1971) that starred Baby Sridevi in a stellar role. As is the practice with Tamil cinema, Jaya was typecast and stereotyped in secondary roles. A student of SIET college, Chennai, the beauteous actress was introduced by Srilankan director V C Guhanathan in "Sodarum Sooravaliyum". Sadly Jaya never got her due as an actress in Tamil cinema. She spoke in her own voice in this movie and is definitely a better actress than Sumitra who played the lead role. Chennai still remembers Jaya for the song - "Radhaiyin Nenjame Kannanukku Sondhame" that was a rage during the early 70's and was a straight lift from the Sharmilee number - Khilte Hai Gul Yahan, Milke Bikharne Ko.
Jaya eventually married V C Guhanathan and settled to matrimonial bliss in Chennai. Allegedly the marriage faced parental opposition and Jaya eloped with her director to get married in the temple in Thiruneermalai near Pallavaram. Tamil cinema has rarely encouraged actresses whose mother tongue is Tamil. Tamil cinema's fascination for plump heroines from outside Chennai is inexplicable. MGR rejected Nirmala and Chandrakala and opted for the punjabi Radha Saluja in "Idhayakani".
That is all about the trivia associated with the movie.
The script is taut and S P Muthuraman has directed the movie well justifying the writer's sensibilities. "Raja, Mandri" song is the only one that is hummable. The movie is supposedly shot in Nagercoil and Kanyakumari but I am not so sure. It may have been a set. The beaches look like the one in Mahabailpuram.
What is the story about?
Two friends Nagarajan and Sampath are road side vendors of garments. While Sampath is not a good salesperson, Nagarajan fleeces customers due to his sweet talk.Nagarajan is a lecher of the highest order and he seduces girls to satiate his lust and then discards them. They encounter a man in a train (Y G Mahendran, an insipid performance) who is carrying cash for depositing it in a Chennai temple trust.But he dies enroute to Chennai and Nagarajan quitely lifts the cash.
Sampath keeps on advicing Nagarajan all the time but he unwillingly becomes an accomplice in all of Nagarajan's actions. Mahendran's sister Bhuvana (Sumitra) visits them to find out about the lost cash but Nagarajan manages to hoodwink her. Within no time, Bhuvana becomes a victim of Nagarajan's lust and as expected, she becomes pregnant. But Nagarajan is in no mood to marry her and he marries Manohari (Jaya Guhanathan). There is a side track about Rajinikant's love interest (Meera) who succumbs to an accident. (a very implausible accident even by cinematic standards.)
To save Bhuvana's honor and to help his friend, Sampath marries Bhuvana but they only share a platonic relationship. Even when Sampath wants to have a physical relationship with her, Bhuvana spurns him saying he is like a God to her. Sampath gives his name to Bhuvana's son. But Nagarajan and Manohari yearn for a child as the fomer has now become impotent because of his excessive libido.
Nagarajan demands that his son be given to him for adoption but Bhuvana refuses. But when the child falls ill and needs an injection, Nagarajan enters into a bargain that he would give the medicine from his pharmacy provided it is agreed that the child is given to him in adoption. But Sampath arrives in the nick of the time to deliver the injection and the child is saved. However, due to his excessive smoking and directing, Sampath suffers a cardiac arrest and dies. Bhuvana adorns the white saree and prefers to live as his widow.
A good plot and a gripping story line interspersed with powerful dialogues add to the film's charm. But there are many loopholes in the script. The movie seems to be a rushed effort - may be Rajinikant did not have enough dates? This was one of the first positive roles for Rajinikant who was earlier subsumed with villainous roles in Tamil cinema.
Sumitra is a big disappointment. The film belongs to Sivakumar, Rajinikant and Jaya. Surulirajan is wasted in an inconsequential role. There are not many characters in the movie. Did Bhuvana find out that Nagarajan had stolen the money in her brother's box? Why does Bhuvana spurn Sampath's physical advances? Her reasoning that she is plagued by guilt on marrying Sampath does not hold water. It is as though she has punished Sampath for helping her during duress. What about Bhuvana's family? Did they disown her? Some questions remain unanswered. Why does Sampath continue to be submissive to Nagarajan's devious ways?
It looks like the genesis of Rajini's habit of delivering punch dialogues began with this movie.
Overall an average fare that had a good run at the box office. It was a low budget movie and so the movie must have delivered phenomenal returns to its distributors.