Ta Ra Su’s novel on Bhairavai VenkataSubbiah was produced by the maestro G.V. Iyer as the classy movie Hamsageethe. The protagonist is played by my favorite Anant Nag, the playback singer was Sri M. Balamuralikrishna.
Young Subbiah is a very talented student and much absorbed in music. He offers to sing the kirthana in a different tala and inadvertently offers a challenge to his guru’s title. He does not even notice when his guru gets up and leaves., so absorbed is he in the music.
After being rejected by various teachers as a gurudrohi, he finds a reclusive guru and manages to master the Bhairavi Raga after a lot of travails. He succeeds in impressing the king and becomes the AsthAna vidwAn.
He slowly turns material and arrogant. He wins the love of a beautiful singer and dancer who is a great fan of his music.
As his fame reaches great heights he becomes extremely arrogant and callous. He manages to alienate himself from the rest of the singing community. One day he is tricked by a clever student with respect to the tALa and re-joins the song at an incorrect point.
He realises the error of his values and ways, and then turns to music for music’s sake. He gives up all his status symbols and goes of in search of the divine through music.
Once, he is compelled by Tippu Sultan to sing in court. He refuses saying that he will sing only in front of God, in the temples and not in the courts. He is threatened by Tippu Sultan that his tongue will be chopped off and he has just one day to change his mind. He sings his final hamsageethe in praise of Tripura Bhairavi, singing a very powerful and moving song begging only for devotion to her., bhakthi. At the climax of the son, he cuts his own tongue off to avoid being forced to sing in the king’s court and to be misdirected in his life again.
My thoughts :
I loved this movie, though the ending made me miserable when I was young. Now at my ripe old age, I know the fear of being redrawn into the material world, while at the same time not having fully lost my desire for fame and recognition. If you do not have an opportunity to see the whole movie, even watching selected movie clips, will be worth the minutes you spend on it. It may change you for life.
Even if you don’t care about the message, there is plenty to observe in this period movie about the customs and culture of those days gone by never to return. It is only the genes and emotions that live on in us.