Review of the Film – ‘Thaai Mookaambikai’

The movie under consideration was released on the 9 July 1982. This movie increased the traffic of pilgrims to the powerful temple of Mookaambikai at Kollur. The famous director, K. Shankar (1926 –2006), was responsible for shooting this movie. Shankar had worked in Central Studios and Pakshi Raja Studios in Coimbatore. He was a successful editor in A. V. M. Studios before moving into film direction.

The story was by S. Jagadeesan, and K. Shankar had done the screenplay. The rest of the team consisted of, Kanchi Meenakshi Sundaram (Cinematography); K. Shankar, K. R. Krishnan, V. Jayabal (Editors); and Sivaprasad (Producer). The latter produced the film under the banner Shivasankar Creations. The music was rendered by Ilayaraja. A big star-cast consisting of K. R. Vijaya, Thengaai Srinivasan, Major Sundarrajan, Sujatha, Sivakumar, Poornima Bhagyaraj, M. N. Nambiyar, Saritha, Manorama, Oru Viral Krishna Rao, Nizhalgal Ravi, Karthik, Jai Shankar, Jai Ganesh, Gundu Kalyanam, and V. Gopalakrishnan. M. Balamuralikrishna, M. S. Viswanathan, Seerkazhi Givundarajan, come in as the three singers.

The soundtrack came out well due to the excellent work of Ilayaraja. The lyrics were by Vaali. The song, ‘Janani Janani,’ from this movie is set in Kalyani Raaga and continues to be an all-time favourite. The song, ‘Isai Arasi,’ is one of the most complex compositions and it is based on the rare raaga, Surya. It is said that Ilayaraja was inspired by the portrait of Adi Shankara while composing the song for this movie.

The playback singing was done by P. Susheela, S. Janaki, M. S. Rajeshwari, Ilayaraja, Deepan Chakravarthy, S. P. Shailaja, P. Jayachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan, M. Balamuralikrishna, M. S. Viswanathan and Seerkazhi Govindarajan. Salem-based businessman, M. Gopalakrishnan, used to render the song, ‘Janani Janani,’ on a number of occasions. The late Chief Minister, M. G. Ramachandran, was inspired by K. Shankar to visit the Mookaambikai Temple at Kollur in Karnataka. This goddess was known for bestowing speech to the ones who could not utter a word.

The screenplay is a combination of history and modern times. K. R. Vijaya plays several roles, and the story is about her three kids, Senthil, Vellaiamma, and Muthu. The movie is full of miracles and Saritha comes in as Vellaiamma. Thanks to the blessings of Ambal. The dumb Saritha gets endowed with a fabulous voice. She begins her vocal journey by singing and winning over Manorama. Sujatha has done well, and she ties a pendant with the image of Mookaambikai around the necks of Raakayi’s kids (K. R. Vijaya) which helps them to identify each other after they grow up. They, eventually, were separated during their childhood days. The climax song by the musical trio, M. Balamuralikrishna, M. S. Viswanathan, and Seerkazhi Govindarajan, is a masterpiece.

The movie was full of miracles, and it was received well in the market. The songs are gems and people continue to listen to them. The song, ‘Isai Arasi,’ is a combination of music, timing, and rendering by the artists on screen. The fantabulous coordination is a wonder and each one of the artists and singers have tried to complement each other. Similarly, the song, ‘Thaaye Mookaambike,’ is one more effort wherein the music director, Ilayaraja, has managed to bring in three big singers into the arena. One must remember that M. Balamuralikrishna and M. S. Viswanathan were musicians in their own right. The musical wizard, Balamuralikrishna, had created a new raaga, ‘Jaya Jayalalithe,’ during the latter years of his career and an immensely pleased, J. Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, expressed that she should be born as the student of M. Balamuralikrishna in her next birth.

The movie, ‘Thaai Mookaambikai,’ is a pioneer, for it helped the people of Tamil Nadu to connect with the divine through the silver screen.

Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of the Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.

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