back

Watch it once...

47 Natkal is a 1981 Indian Tamil drama film directed by K. Balachander starring Chiranjeevi, Jayaprada, Sarath Babu and Ramaprabha. It was simultaneously made into in Telugu as 47 Rojulu actress Saritha plays herself in a guest role. The film is based on a novel by Sivashankari.The film marked the Tamil debut for Chiranjeevi.

 

In an interview with K.Balachander he had said that the reason the film didn't set the ticket-counter trilling was the expectation created by the novel. "A clash of images" he termed it, that of the novelist and that of the director. Sivasankari’s novel, 47 Naatkal, begins with a wedding in rural Tamil Naadu and ends with a FBI rescue operation in suburban Chicago. What lies between (pun intended) is a pool of innocence lost and violence found; an allegorical Alice in Wonderland gone way, way bad.

 
The story goes like this- Actress Saritha comes to a small town to talk to Vaishali (Jayapradha), because she is about to play her in a film based on her life. Vaishali suffers from hysteria and angrily shuts out Saritha. The story is now told in flashback, when Vaishali's brother reveals to Saritha about her marriage to Kumar (Chiranjeevi), consisting of only 47 days, hence the title of the film. 
 
Kumar takes Vaishali to a country manor in France. She does not know French or English. Kumar already has a French first wife Lucy (Anne Patricia) living there on the top floor. He deceives both wives. He tells Vaishali that Lucy is a friend, while he tells Lucy that Vaishali is his sister. Eventually, Vaishali figures out his bigamy and does not want to stay with him as his second wife. She does not know of anyone who knows her language and who can help her escape Kumar.
 
Kumar tortures and threatens her to make her act as his mentally deranged sister. He treats her in a very sadistic manner. A desi pickpocketer (Ramaprabha) sees Kumar abusing Vaishali and tells her about an Indian doctor named Shanker (Sarath Babu) who can help her. 
 
In the mean time, Vaishali becomes pregnant, and Kumar is afraid that Lucy will discover his deception, so he tries to force Vaishali to have an unsafe abortion. Dr. Shanker rescues her and also tells Lucy everything about Kumar's bigamy. Lucy ends her marriage. Dr. Shanker brings Vaishali back to India, who moves back in with her brother and mother. No mention is made as to what happened to her pregnancy and no baby is seen or heard.
 
The movie didn't work then and it didn't work much for me either. First and crucial mistake: Jaya Pradha in the film was not a girl. Chiranjeevi's antagonist also turned out to be cast in the Rajnikanth mould of "Avargal." Personally, I felt that the translation from page to screen didn't succeed for obvious reasons. The most important element that could never have been possible on screen was the luxury Sivasankari had every week to explore her characters, to chart their interiors in a "day by day" sense. The film replaced this with a song (or a background theme song,) which gave you a sense of gaps and robbed the suspense. Rama Prabha's pick-pocket was hysterical. 
 
Coming to think of it, it was a no-go from the very outset. But KBs courage knew no bounds in those days. If you have read the book, you will definitely not like the movie but otherwise you can watch it once...
kingfisher backstage