A Review of the Film, Thiruvilayadal

The Thiruvilayadal Puranam deals with 64 stories connected with grace of Lord Shiva. The movie focusses on a few of the stories. The Music Director, K. V. Mahadevan has rendered the songs marvelous manner. ‘Thiruvilayadal’ came in at a time when social subjects ruled the roost. It was akin to the fresh breath of air which revitalized devotional concepts in movies. This movie was followed by several others like ‘Thiruvarutselvar’, ‘Thirumal Perumai’, and ‘Kandan Karunai’. The movie ‘Saraswathi Sabatham’ belonged to the same stable.  

Shivaji Ganesan, Savitri, Nagesh, Muthu Raman, Devika, K. B. Sundarambal, T. S. Balaiah, T. R. Mahalingam, O. A. K. Devar, Manorama, A. P. Nagarajan, and S. V. Sahasranamam were the other stars. Kannadasan composed the lyrics for the songs and a part of one song was written by Sankardas Swamigal. The role of Shiva was played by Shivaji and Savitri matched him by darning the mantle as Parvati. K. B. Sundarambal did remarkably well as avvaiyar and her song ‘Pazham Nee Appa’ won encomiums. The movie was a Silver Jubilee hit and was released several times. It is a pleasure to recall the fact that Grahmi award winner, Vickku Vinayak Ram played Ghatam in this movie. The movie had a total of 11 songs and the singers – K. B. Sundarambal, N. Balamurali Krishna, T. R. Mahalingam, T. M. Soundararajan, E. B. Srinivas, S. Janaki, Seerkali Govindarajan, and P. Susheela rendered the songs which formed a total length of 45 minutes.


The story is woven around an upset Lord Murugan who leaves Mt. Kailash and goes off to the Pazhani Hills. K. B. Sundarabal as avaiyaar and Savitri as Goddess Parvati tried to convince him to return to Mt. Kailash. Lord Mururga had lost towards Ganesha in a contest which involved a lovely mango, and this formed the basis for his anger. 

In order to convince Muruga, Goddess Parvati and Avvaiyar narrate stories from the Thiruvilayadal Puranam. The movie is centered around the devotees of Lord Shiva who had faced trails and tribulations. The director has taken these steps to portray the stories in a marvelous manner. One of the stories has the actor Nagesh playing the role of the poor poet known as Dharmi. This poet is lured into taking a poem composed by the Lord himself to the King, Shenbaga Pandian. A lot of drama unfolds and a steadfastness of Tamil poet, Nackirar is brought out beautifully well.  

The story of the vain and arrogant, Hemanatha Bagavathar is unforgettable. T. S. Balaiah plays the role of the extremely talented singer. The singer and his ensemble give a soul-stirring performance in the court of the Pandiyan ruler. The song, ‘Indru Our Naal Podhuma’ was sung by none other than the legendary, N. Balamurali Krishna. Each line of the song was delivered in a different raga. The Pandiyan darbar and the display of talent by Hemanatha Bagavathar and his team in an amphitheater like setup mesmerized the audience.  

The Pandiyan ruler is put in a Catch-22 situation by Hemanatha Bhagavathar, when the ruler goes on to challenge the musical skills of the court musicians. The smart musicians suggest that the devotional singer, T. R. Mahalingam was most suited for the wager. T. R. Mahalingam plays the role of Panapathira in this movie. He gets worried about the whole contest and the simple man falls at the feet of Lord Shiva, known as Sundareswarar in Madurai. The Lord emerges as a woodcutter and tries to sell wood by singing songs on the streets of Madurai. He moves over too the guest house which holds Hemanatha Bagavathar and the party. He sits on the veradah of the house and sings the song ‘Paatum Naane’. T. S. Balaiah as Hemanatha Bagavathar has done his role very well.  

The arrogant singer gets worries and wants to know the story of the woodcutter. The woodcutter tells him that it was because of his teacher, Panapathira. A dumb found Hemanatha Bagavathar surrenders his skills to the Pandian Kingdom and leaves Madurai immediately. Thereafter, the woodcutter goes to the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple and narrates the whole incident to the staunch devote-musician, Panapathira and also blesses him by showing his true form. 

The makeup, dialogues, editing, music, and direction were remarkable. The movie went on to win several awards. Kudos to A. P. Nagarajan for bringing out the essence of Thiruvilayadal Puranam with just 4 of the 64 stories. The movie Thiruvilayadal is listed among the top Tamil movies and acted as a benchmark for movies based on religion and mythology. Generations of Movie buffs have continued to enjoy watching Thiruvilayadal again and again. Words are insufficient to express one’s appreciations for this movie.  

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