Kasturi Nivasa (1971)
- Written by G. Balasubramanium, Dorai-Bhagavan
- Directed by Dorai-Bhagavan
Kasturi Nivasa - Movie Highlights
Dr.Rajkumar is arguably the most cherished actor of Kannada cinema and as we look back into 100 years of cinema his contribution (particularly Kannada Cinema) is immense. Almost all of his movies are very popular but some are so great that they left an undeniable impression among the cinephiles. One such film that is considered as a milestone in Rajkumar's career and also in the history of the Kannada film industry is undoubtedly 'Kasturi Nivas'. Legend has it that Sivaji Ganesan had rejected the script written by G. Balasubramanium because it had a tragic ending. But Chi. Udayashankar (one of the most popular lyric writers of Kannada Cinema) and Rajkumar's younger brother S. P. Varadaraj showed interest in the project and they coaxed the director duo, B. Dorairaj and S. K. Bhagavan to listen to the story. They then made it into a Kannada film with Dr Rajkumar in the lead which not only released to full houses but went on to celebrate 100 week run in many theatres across the state. Learning of film's success Sivaji Productions purchased the rights of the film and remade it in Tamil as 'Avanthan Manithan' with Sivaji Ganesan. The film was later remade in Hindi as 'Shandaar' (1974) starring Sanjeev Kumar. Such is the popularity of the film that it was digitally re-mastered and colorized and was re-released in 2014. This is undoubtedly one of the best movies of Kannada film industry which still mesmerizes even after 40+ years of its release.
Ravi Varma (Rajkumar) is a businessman who runs a matchbox (Dove brand) factory. He is a widower who has lost his daughter in an accident and lives alone in the large house, his ancestral home 'Kasturi Nivasa', except for his servant Ramaiah (K.S. Ashwath). He becomes very close to one of his workers, who himself is a widower, and whose little daughter (Rani) is very fond of him. Recognizing that Chandru is an honest employee, Ravi decides to help him by sending him to US for further training. Ravi also offers to look after Rani until Chandru returns. He recruits his secretary Neela (Jayanthi) as a substitute mother to take a good care of the child. On return; Chandru suggests changing the company's structure. But traditionalist Ravi, becomes infuriated. Protesting this, Chandru resigns. Also he starts his own matchbox company (Eagle brand) and becomes the leading matchbox manufacturer. At home Rani is so used to Neela as her mother that she insists Chandru and Neela sleep with her together in their bed. This leads to Neela and Chandru getting married, which devastates Ravi as he was in love with Neela, but never actually approached her about his feelings. Things continue to go wrong for Ravi as he loses business to Chandru who is using more modern manufacturing methods. This begins the downfall for Ravi. His charity and donating activities have eaten up the profits and he ends up putting his house on sale. Chandru buys Kasturi Nivasa in a highest bid and plans to give it back to Ravi in trying to help his former boss and a person responsible for his present status. But being the man that he is, Ravi's pride leads him to refuse all offers of help. Neela who has still feelings and loyalty for Ravi is torn between her former employer and her husband. The situation leads to problems between Chandru and Neela. Ravi's life turns more sorrowful and painful as he moves to a small house of his servant. How the circumstances lead him to a bad situation and what's in store for a man who never said 'NO' to someone in need forms the crux of the story?
Kasturi Nivasa is deservedly called a classic for its powerful storyline, good direction, extraordinary music and a spellbinding performance from its lead actor Dr Rajkumar. It's a simple story, but one that's beautifully told. But it is this simplistic narration and the social message it carried, captivated people from all walks of life. Although the theme addressed here is dated and old-fashioned but there in lies powerful message. It reflects the time and day of the era were life was simple and morals and values weighed more than the money. Also the symbolism used throughout to convey the message forms an important aspect of its narrative style. Both men run match factories but they are contrasted by their very own nature. Ravi is a boss but has sympathy for all and believes in treating his workers well and his brand is Dove. But on the other hand, Chandru has branded his product with an Eagle, which signifies his more aggressive nature. Throughout the film one can find such symbolism but one has to look closely. The early part of the film sets up the character of Ravi as a rich and philanthropic businessman who succumbs to his intention of being generous no matter what happens. But sadly for Ravi, although this may have been his philosophy, he appears to be getting less able to get back up again after each successive set-back. So in the end, you are left with the haunting memories of the tragic hero. The filming in black-and-white adds another dimension to the film. Stirring dialogues add weightage to the characters and the scenes. G.K. Venkatesh's songs are wonderful and beautifully pictured. The unforgettable song 'Aadisi Nodu Beelisi Nodu' has never dated actually and is the most popular song till date. There is another song 'Aadisidaata Besara Moodi' contrasts to the above which is also very popular. 'Nee Bandu Nintaaga' is another gem. With all this and more, the movie went on to become one of most popular and successful film of all time.
This is just one of the many great acts by one of the greatest actors of Kannada cinema. Here Dr Rajkumar is at his best and simply wonderful as he imbues his character with dignity and charm. Essaying the role of a Good Samaritan, he is very much likable and the role is a testimony to the actor's greatness. Jayanthi looks stunning and she does a fantastic job of portraying Neela's conflicting emotions. The child actress is excellent and very sweet. Rajashankar is good and supportive. Ashwath, as always, does a great job in the supporting role.
It is deservedly called as a classic film because they don't make movies like these anymore!