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‘Of course Sakalakala Vallavan doesn’t sell sorakkai’

By Kamal Haasan Clone

(Exactly 30 years ago, the groundbreaking Sakalakala Vallavan was released. It has since been voted as one of the top 100 films that nobody knows how and why they became box office hits. For the record, Chinna Thambi tops the list)

Whether it’s Alexander The Great or Iruttu Kadai Halwa, it starts off with just the name, without the glory it attains. Sakalakala Vallavan was no different. We never thought whether it would make it to the Newsweek’s 100 Greatest Films ever or not because Newsweek doesn’t publish such a list. We just wanted to make money.

Perhaps due to the fact that I had dropped out of school, I’ve had many movies that the educated public would find absolutely cringe-worthy. And most of my movies of that type have been directed by SP Muthuraman sir, who eventually became SPM sir. I knew SPM sir was the brother of Subha Veerapandian, a diehard Periyarite and a DK activist. But he never threw this fact in my face most probably because of the kind of films he was making.

This was the time I was acting in Moondram Pirai, which came out in the same year (1982). SPM sir did not concern himself with such films where the hero, rather than walk up to the heroine and tell her that it was him who had taken care of her when she was down with amnesia, makes monkey faces at her hoping that she would recognise him. SPM sir said he would never be caught making such a movie. At that time, SPM sir was seeing the re-runs of many MGR films. We kept discussing those films. We were all fans of MGR and Periya Idathu Penn. We wanted to make a film like that. And we ended up making a film exactly like that.

Later, too, when I made Thevar Magan in 1992, I realised I should have asked SPM sir to direct it. It was his cup of tea. In the sense, he would have lent his name happily while letting me to do the actual direction.

AVM Saravanan of the AVM Studios, with whom I had my debut, wanted to make another film with me. They suggested SPM sir’s name. I was amused. Because at that time, people usually told me about the heroine and not the director’s name.

SPM sir did not tell me any story. He never had any. We just had to assume it. I thought this was the way to go as you can improvise on the day while shooting. AVM Saravanan, who had a reputation for having his arms folded, did not believe in spending on stories. He just wanted us to make a film — any film — that would not bring a bad name to his famous production house, which had enjoyed the consistent patronage of the respectable family audience, the kind among whom Nethu Rathri Yemma and Nila Kayudhe would be a huge draw.

The way SPM sir was filming the movie, providing me lines in English that I could practice my now famous and ludicrous accent on, and that lurid disco dance, I knew this was the kind of village subject that we all dreamt of making. During the shooting of early scenes, I told SPM sir that I would not do the village market scene. And SPM sir agreed. Earlier in my career I had done many village movies, like 16 Vayadhinle, where they rung in the rural ambience by having a rambunctious village market scene. When I expressed my reservations on the market scene to SPM sir, he simply said, ‘Of course Sakalakala Vallavan doesn’t sell sorakkai’.

At some point of the film’s shooting, I decided that to get into the character, I needed a bike for the dance sequence for the song Ilamai Idho Idho. But when the time came, SPM sir was standing there glumly, and the cameraman Babu was sitting with his head in his hands. I thought there was a technical glitch. I said, ‘what is the problem? I’m ready. So are the colourful lights behind that are going on and off signifying that this is a fun night club even though nights clubs that I know of never look like this, and at any rate, Chennai has heard of no night club in the 80s that the film is set in.’

SPM sir forlornly showed me a small note from the producer saying that there will be no petrol for the bike. This was the producer’s way of making sure we shot responsibly, without going overboard with takes. I was livid. I called my office and asked them to bring a big can of petrol in 20 minutes, and in those 20 minutes I was ready to dance on the bike.

Sakalakala Vallavan was one of the films —- along with the likes of Maria My Darling, Andha Oru Nimidam, Per Sollum Pillai —- that made me decide that I should be doing more masala movies. Apart from being easy, they also provided good money. I was nearing middle-age. I thought, “If I don’t do earn now when will I make money?” After wrapping the film, I was so happy that I took Sarika and went for a walk around the empty set where they had shot Nethu Rathri Yemma.

I am always asked when SPM sir and I will work together again. I don’t know if we can summon up that same feeling of doing a film for the pleasure of making money. Now there’s too much pressure. And I don’t blame SPM sir. He’s been so tormented that he wouldn’t want to add to it by doing a film with me again.

(Disclaimer: Waiting for a rejoinder from AVM Saravanan, which we hope is not a legal notice)

(Disclaimer 2: This is a remake of this piece)

  • AasaiAnantha

    Wait till Thalai remakes Billa 2! #ThalaRockzz

  • Every line nails it so well 🙂 This is one of your best posts ever! such a hilarious take on Kamal Haasan’s piece! 🙂

  • Whats in a name

    Quite funny…If I may , Kamal was not married to Sarika during Sagalakala Vallavan…

  • kbalakumar

    I didn’t say anywhere they were married 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    Thank you 🙂


    hahaaa….real gud one !!

  • kbalakumar

    Nandri, sir 🙂

  • Bethlegem Blogeswari

    Praise the Lord !

  • Sathya

    best ever man

  • Pavithra Srinivasan

    Adhu. Excellent piece! 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    Thank you 🙂

  • TopGun84

    What is the point of this post? Sakalakala vallavan was not in the same quality as Kamal’s other films and it is also not his biggest tripe. I would say the 80s was a bit out of place on their taste of movies and heros. It was the time when sivaji and mgr have left quiet an impression and the void needed to be filled quickly. Kamal could say he did not like the movie now but it was perfectly apt to be made at that time and it was required and I am sure he loved to work on it then.

  • enjoyee

    did u even read the disclaimer.

  • Haha… Can’t wait for AVM clone’s response. Good one!

  • Ithukkuk Thalaikkum enna sambantham?

  • MN

    You had to point to that hindu article, did you? I only read yours – I’ll leave Kamal’s “article” (can we call it a thesis, already) to the historians & other literature fanatics (certainly no one associated with cinema or anyone living anywhere near a normal-sane human life would ever even consider reading it). If I pursue a Ph D (or even an M.S. Thesis) – I’ll go back to that hindu “article” – I’m fairly certain a computer-science M.S. thesis can easily be cooked up using that “article” [and, in any case – like Kamal’s writing, no one would ever bother reading the thesis of a grad-student or a PhD candidate anyway; heck, I think that may carry me all the way to tenure, even].

  • SquareDriver

    Hahahahaha….oh, you really fell for it, didn’t you 😀 😀 Bala sir, you are amazing!

  • great piece; cracked me up! have been following your posts through the ‘Talk’ papers… didnt know u had ur own site. Refreshing to see some genuine satire and humor! wonderful work!

  • nishanth

    A bore of a post. The article could surely have been better ridiculed.

  • Bala

    enjoyed this. better than watching his movies.

  • Star Wars is Sakalakala Vallavan
    By AVM Saravana Clone

    Initially I wanted to make a movie inspired by the story of Star Wars. I had narrated the story to Jaishankar, who agreed to act in the film without getting into what the script is.
    I also requested Kamal Hassan and Oorvasi to act in this movie. I paid an advance and confirmed their dates. This was even reported in all the newspapers in America. However an associate of Kamal felt that Jaishankar’s hat might overshadow Kamal in the movie (later I was told there was no such associate) and it would not be a Kamal movie. The project was dropped, god forbid.

    Kamal later told me about SP Muthuraman. I had it coming. SPM narrated a story based on life of a young agriculturist going to extremes to attain revenge against his devious landlord and his family (or at least that’s what Wikipedia says now). The dialogues and scenes were very realistic and I liked it, though I fell asleep thrice while
    hearing it. Also I literally ROFL-ed twice when SPM was narrated the climax. SPM told me that he would complete the shooting in 6 days and he would need 150 colorful & shiny pants. 120 of them were for Kamal (he didn’t use all of them). Yes, that was too many pants. But then we are talking about a team of Kamal, Silk Simitha, YG Mahindran and Thenga Srinivasan.

    Shooting commenced in 1982 and the first schedule lasted 2 days. All the scenes that were shot were scrapped since they forgot to put rolls. The screenplay had to be rewritten(heh!). Shooting was postponed. The new screenplay had lot of accents and I was shocked as it was a copy of Star Wars. I told SPM that a good writer and director
    should get accent from life, like from paya selling aaya, not copy from other movies. But we both knew it wasn’t about SPM. I objected to the accent since it would not attract tamil audience. So I created a character for Silk Simitha. At least people don’t need to think about accent. Had SPM not listened to Kamal and gone ahead with the original accent, people would not have clapped for scenes they didn’t understand.

    Kamal Hassan wanted two item songs in the movie. Silk Simitha was my idea. But ‘two item songs’ is little too much for what Indian economy was doing at that time. Finally, we had to settle down to one item song (Nethu Rathiri) and one not-so item song (Nila
    Kayuthu). Ilamai Ithoo Ithoo was also actually inserted in the movie simply because Kamal wanted to scream ‘Happy New Year’ on screen. It is the time to share few things about the song. Kamal wanted to ride a bike in the song. But he never asked me for petrol. If he would have asked, I could have certainly got him petrol for TWENTY FIVE rupees. It was not like today anyways. Secondly, Kamal insisted that he should wear different colors of pants for the song. I hesitantly agreed. After seeing almost 60 different color pants I brought him, he rejected all of it and asked for a pink color one. Which hero wears pink color pants, anyway? (MGR IS AN EXCEPTION). After a week-long hardwork, we traced a pink pant and thankfully we could finish the shooting. (Go to YouTube. Watch the song. And tell me if you actually liked that pink)

    The movie was completed and released. It was an overwhelming response. Everyone liked the movie. People coming out of the theaters were found exchanging pleasantries and asking each other if there was a story in the movie. I do not know why Kamal Haasan has chosen to talk about the film now. Calling a filmmaker as “old school” simply because he didn’t like hero wearing pink is, I think, outdated.

    Had Kamal Hassan allowed SPM to make the movie originally conceived by him, there would have been no movie made at all. You all would have been at least been spared from listening to ‘Ithoo Ithoo’ every new year.

    I have nothing against Kamal Hassan. What all I say is, inasmuch as he uses somebody else’s name and directs movies, he should also use producers’ name and actually produce it.

    [P.S. If you want to send a rejoinder to this, send it in your name. Not in Shruti’s or Gautami’s or for that matter, your brother’s name]

  • Mr. Jaamin Surameen

    Unga peeling puriyidhu :-p 🙂

  • Movie fan

    Nayakan was a Kamal Haasan master piece. Sakala Vallavana too was a great commercial entertainer. But sorry to say this spoof attempt is not worth reading and is at best mediocre.

  • Hari

    Waste of time reading this so called spoof, wriien by someone who is probably a narcissist and thinks Kamal Haasan is one.

  • kbalakumar

    Vakkil sir, Really good. Very well done. 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    I don’t know whether I am a a narcissist or not. But I sure don’t think Kamal is one.

  • kbalakumar

    This is just a spoof of that Kamal’s piece on Nayakan, and is not a review or judgement on Sakalakala Vallavan.

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