This is my alternate take on the age old, (more than 30 years!) all-timer, musical hit of K. Balachander, SindhuBhairavi. I have watched it many times over not just for the sheer musical versatility which it offered, but for the intellectual discussions on music between Shivakumar(JKB) and Suhasini(Sindhu), the inimitable chemistry between them which I felt every time I watched, the other characters like the mridanga vidwan (Delhi Ganesh), Gajapathi who plays tamburu, the judge, the pure and innocent Bharavi (Sulakshana), Prathap Pothan silently in love with Suhasini who all make the film wholesome, lively and never boring even for a minute. The directorial genius of K. Balachander was visible throughout the film. It is surprising that he was not awarded the best film director at the national level. I have not watched Shri Sivakumar's (Surya's father) films much, and even today I remember him only in the role of the carnatic musician JKB. The two main protagonists of the film JKB and Sindhu are shown to be good people who had no control over their emotions, more so with JKB, which led to the downfall in the career of JKB. It needed Sindhu(Suhasini) to come back to the scene to bring him to the front stage. The songs like 'Paadariye Padippariye', 'Naan oru Sindhu' are frequently sung not only by the contestants in reality shows, but by the playback singers in live stage shows.
Why should there be another view for this evergreen film? Why should I not have? Just as our epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha are interpreted in zillion ways, and where Utthama Purushan (perfect man) like Rama is judged as having flaws, I am looking at this from a different eye. JKB has been married to Bhairavi for some years and suffering from childlessness.In addition to that, JKB was increasingly getting frustrated that his wife is totally ignorant in carnatic music and is not able to have any sort of discussion with her in the music. Then enters the music teacher, Sindhu who challenges that if the music needs to reach ordinary people, it should be sung in the language they can understand and she went to prove it by singing 'Paadariye' and linking it to a classical song and was overwhelmingly appreciated by the audience. After initially feeling put down or insulted, he not only went on to accept her views and change the course of his musical journey, but also started deeply loving her and a child would be born out of their union which 'solved the problem of childlessness.' Everybody leaves the theater happy and contented. For a child to be born out of a wedlock (without any fertility treatments), it is important that a man should not have low sperm count or any fertility issue.Our film world over the past (I don't know about the present) has conveniently used this point to work out to benefit the hero, and heroines' of course, compromise! It is unofficially ok for a man to have affairs and children out of wedlock. If JKB(Shri Shiva Kumar) had fertility problem, how will the script be written? Can his wife Bhairavi(Sulakshana) have an affair with somebody and have that elusive child? Will the public look at her the same way? She would be labelled as a whore! Would the film have run packed houses? Had it been written today, she could have had a child through surrogacy with somebody's sperm from the sperm bank.When it comes to films, especially Indian films, it is 'very important' that everything works out benefiting the hero of the film. All the existing realities can be thrown out of windows. In this film, the exact reason was not given regarding the inability of Bhairavi to bear children. So Sindhu(Suhasini), who was about to abort the child , overhears the conversation, backs out from her decision and does the 'good thing' by bearing 'JKB's child' and 'donates' the child to JKB and his wife who wholeheartedly accepts him/her.
In reality, it is men all over the world who have more fertility issues than women, but our hypocritical society conveniently puts the burden and blame of childlessness on the woman. In the silver screens, the main protagonist or the hero does not/should not have these 'minor issues.' That should be left to a woman! If a woman is not able to bear child, she should bear the guilt, isn't it? After the initial opposition, Sulakshana goes ahead to arrange second marriage for her husband to Suhasini to prevent him from a complete breakdown. Of course, affairs and children out of wedlock can be accepted, but second marriages? So, with the help of Suhasini, JKB's singing career is brought back on tracks, a child is gifted and she(Suhasini) leaves the scene to go to an unknown place. The hero is 'flaw fully' perfect in the end!
Anyway, I came to know about this beautiful raaga 'SindhuBhairavi' only after the release of this film.
P.S. The next article already on the way!