Hearing that the Dada Saheb Phalke award this year has gone to K Balachander aka KB just gave me the one feeling, unlike Ravi Shastri who gets many, that this was a bit overdue. The fact that he is a brilliant director needs no saying but I just feel compelled to share my thoughts on one of his films here.
Moondru Mudichu (Three Knots) tells the tale of three people, Kamal Hassan, who hero-worships Rajnikanth, and their love for Sridevi. Sridevi reciprocates Kamal’s love, which is true, and this causes heart burn for Rajnikanth.
The instance when Kamal and Sridevi are lost in love is captured through this underrated melody in Aadi Velli. The song is composed differently, in that its lyrics are an Anthaathi (written by a certain Kannadasan), i.e. the last word of one line becomes the first word for the next.
Things reach a flashpoint when the three go for a picnic and are on a boat. Kamal and Sridevi sing another song, very much in love, and Rajni is pretty much a spectator. This song is also an Anthaathi. Towards the end of the song, Kamal topples into the river and Rajni refuses to save him, completing Kamal’s line from his sinister perspective on their love, taking off from Sridevi’s last line and Kamal is left to die.
KB maybe wishes to insinuate that love and death are but two sides of the same coin (two songs in Anthaathi). The situations around the songs, you just saw for yourselves.
Also, the man threw popular sentiments of cinema into the river with Kamal Hassan. The hero is dead in the first half and even while he is there, Rajni pretty much owns him as the villain here has a greater scope than the hero.
This was a filmmaker who was then telling us that he wanted to make his films his way. The award today is pretty much a culmination of this effort of his which was to extend to all his films, before and after Moondru Mudichu.