Three New 1950s Kamala Dance Finds

Thursday, September 20, 2012
I've been working on my "Remembering Film Choreographers" film series for a while now, but the first nattuvanar post is taking much longer than I thought!  I keep finding new research (and contradictory claims) and new angles and ways of approaching the subject, so in order to make my introductory post the best it can be I'm taking lots of time to read and synthesize...and keep continually re-editing my post... over and over. :)  I hope it will be ready in the next 2-3 weeks, but I learned my lesson about not giving timeframes for specific postings!

In the meantime, I thought I would post about three new Kamala dances I've come across recently.  Two are from the rare Tamil film song uploads of YouTuber "Kandasamy Sekkarakudi Subbiah Pillai," and the third was graciously sent to me by a visitor.  I've had the Mohanasundaram one on my big master spreadsheet of Kamala's film dances for a while, but the other two I have never read any references of before! Yay, new Kamala film dances to add to the list!

Sarvadhikari (Telugu, 1951) - Ore Ayaaramaa Sogusaaga - I've listed this one first because the number is so charming with interesting, creative non-classical choreography peppered throughout.  It starts at 1:05:01 with a Kathak-based dance by Kamala with some awkward footwork and then transitions into a cute folksy number with some nice group choreography at 1:06:41.  But it's the third segment, starting at 1:08:19, that is the most creative with its musical harmonies, rhythmic isolations, and dramatic conclusion as Kamala looks over the backup dancers perched on the staircase.  I initially found the Tamil version of this song at KSSP's channel, but the Telugu version at Rajshri is in much higher quality so that's what I've embedded below; the dances appear to be the same with some slightly different editing and reshots for the sung words.   Curiously, Tamil film and dance expert Randor Guy neither credits nor mentions Kamala's dance in his overview of the film at The Hindu

Start 1:05:05

Mohanasundaram (Tamil, 1951) - Oyilaana Mayilaadam Paar Seylaana - Another non-classical number with lots of dramatic musical variety.  Nothing really caught my eye until the unusual final two segments--especially the last one in which Kamala dances furiously with sharp knives in her hands.  She even tries to trick us at the end with some feigned stab attempts!  I hope none of the crew were harmed by her haphazard flinging of the knives off-camera at the end... :D  Though I suppose Kamala's dance is not nearly as nerve-racking as Padmini and Lalitha's knife dance two years earlier in Mangayar Karasi (1949).  While Randor Guy does list Kamala in the credits, he doesn't discuss her dance at all in his review of the film.


Charanadasi (Telugu, 1956) - Maruvakuma Mano Ramana - A big thanks to TS Rao for sending me this dance number! Compared to the two dances above, this one is a much more traditional, classical-based "Kamala dance."  The film was made or dubbed in Tamil as Madharkula Mannikam. Given that Kamala married her first husband R.K. Lakshman in 1952, we can refer to her as "Kamala Lakshman" instead of "Kumari Kamala" for this one.

9 comments

9 comments:

  1. The third song (maruvakuma) strongly reminds me of one of my Bhanumathi favorites, "pilachina biguvatara" from Malleswari (1951). Both are in Kaapi raagam, I think. The tunes are so similar! Nice find this.

    You can find the Bhanumathi sonG and dance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4OZegqEDYs

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  2. True. Bhanumati on her dancing "And speaking of her dance lessons, Bhanumati was characteristically ruthless in self-assessment – she remarked that it must have been a black day for the revered Guru [Vempati Pedda Satyam]when he accepted her as his disciple, for her dance movements could easily be mistaken for a patient suffering from a particularly virulent fit of epilepsy!" from
    http://www.dhool.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4947

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  3. Oops; I did not mean to upset anybody. I remembered that Bhanumati was dismissive of her dancing abilities ( she started as gramaphone singer and got in to films somewhat reluctantly and learnt dancing after a few films, I think) and looked up the web. It was a surprise to see her dance compared to a professional's Perhaps it was a standard dance or Bhanumati was talented enough to pull it off.Surpringly that is the only dance of Bhanumati that I remember well though she did dance in other films like Vipranarayana.

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  4. Nivedita - That Malleswari song is beautiful! Such a mysterious-sounding melody...I like it much better than the more steady and faster-paced Charanadasi song. Thanks for sharing! The song is so charming you might have warmed my heart towards Bhanumati. :)

    gaddeswarup - That's an entertaining and informative article about Bhanumathi that you shared. And it's time for me to confess - I have never liked Bhanumati's dancing! She had so little energy in her classicalish numbers- I think Rani Lalithangi biased me forever. Imagine my confusion when I read an article in Sruti magazine about a Bhanumathi who was “considered one of the three Bharatanatyam exponents who towered above all the others” and danced at the Madras Music Academy. Then I realized they were talking about K. Bhanumathi, not the P. Bhanumathi of film fame. While I don’t really like L. Vijayalakshmi’s dancing either, at least she had the energy of a firecracker! And your comment shouldn’t upset anyone at all! :)

    A couple years ago tv9telugu did a 3-part “Memoirs of Bhanumathi” series and a “Best Songs of Bhanumathi” compilation which is probably the most robust collection of clips of her film work anywhere (including her really early and late aunty stuff).


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  5. Gaddeswarup: Thanks for that link to the article at dhool.com, which I have to read at leisure. The epilepsy thing was quite funny, I thought. No, nothing upsetting about it!

    Minai: Bhanumati is so utterly charming in Malleswari. You must watch it if you haven't. I don't know much about her dance, but her songs are outstanding. I quickly scanned the "Best Songs of Bhanumathi" compilation link that you have given and am not surprised that "pilachina biguvatara" features there. And I am curious now about Rani Lalithangi.

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  6. There are many Bhanumati songs without videos in
    http://www.oldtelugusongs.com/
    Search under Bhanumati and P.Bhanumati. For the other sound of 't' now T is used. There are also a few links in my blog. She was a part of our growing up and I miss her a lot.

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  7. Gaddeswarup: Thanks for that link to oldtelugusongs. I just visited your blog to see the Bhanumathi links that you mentioned, but I am not able to find them offhand. I don't see a search button...maybe you could add one?

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  8. Search feature at top left. Regards
    Swarup

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    Replies
    1. Oops...I did not realize that the box on top was a search button. Thanks.

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