Jul 22, 2018

"Varumayin Niram Sivappu" - a Kamal film

"Varumayin Niram Sivappu" (or 'the colour of poverty is red') is a Tamil film by K. Balachander featuring Kamalahassan and Sridevi (it was also made in Telugu and remade in Hindi). Like films such as Mere Apne, the story is about the urban educated unemployed. Irrespective of what we think of our past,  current, and future  professional prospects, I think anyone reading this has never been in a desperate situation with regards to unemployment. These films serve as a document that such a period existed, and quite likely, still exists for people outside our sphere of social connection.

Kamalahassan's character, born to a well to do musician, is unable to reconcile his principles (inspired by the poet-freedom fighter Bharatiyar) with the moralities of most jobs. Poverty is a consequence but as in most KB films, there is a clever way of depicting this world. Like a scene where the lead and his friends pretend to have an elaborate meal behind closed doors so that Sridevi, waiting outside the house for them to finish, thinks they have something to eat.

Finally, the lead finds a job he is happy with - being a barber. It could have been treated as a comic situation but poverty, while being occasionally comic, is not a subject for slapstick. The colour is red, but sometimes, it can be light.

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