Shooting film songs

Picture the song: ‘Kannum Kannum Kalandhu’ is a dance-off like no other

The dance contest between Padmini and Vyjayanthimala in SS Vasan’s ‘Vanjikottai Valiban’ remains unmatched.

SS Vasan’s Ruritanian drama Vanjikottai Valiban (1958) is about a nail-biting contest for the throne of the kingdom of Vanjikottai. But Vasan’s film, remade in Hindi as Raj Tilak, is perhaps better known for another contest: the dance-off between Padmini and Vyjayanthimala.

There simply isn’t another more engrossing or energetic dance contest in the history of Indian cinema than the one in the song Kannum Kannum Kalandhu. Rumours of real-life friction between Padmini and Vyjayanthimala, both excellent Bharatanatyam artists, have accompanied the song’s journey through film history, making the climactic sequence more engaging than the overall political drama.

SS Vasan obviously saw the promise when he decided to add the song to his film. He got Hindi choreographer Hiralal to handle the song and Kothamangalam Subbu to write lyrics that matched the furore of the steps.

In the main rivalry in the plot, Vanjikottai’s king and his minister Chokkalingam (TK Shanmugam) are on the one side and the king’s second wife and her brother Senapathi (Veerappa) on the other. When the film opens, Senapathi has already staged a coup and killed the king. The onus of winning the kingdom back is on the banished Chokkalingam.

Assisting him in his endeavour is his son Sundaram (Gemini Ganesan) and the murdered king’s daughter, Padma (Padmini). Chokkalingam rallies the people of Vanjikottai and plants the seed of revolution. But Senapathi discovers his plan and imprisons him in a crocodile-infested dungeon. That is when Padma steps in.

Disguised as a wealthy trader, Sundaram invites Senapathi to his palace for a celebration. He also promises to entertain him with a dance by a “world-famous dancer” (which is Padma). The performance is supposed to buy Sundaram time to go free Chokkalingam.

Sundaram’s plans are threatened when his lover Mandakini (Vyjayanthimala), a princess from the neighbouring island of Ratna, turns up at the celebration. Sundaram does not have the time to explain his plan to Mandakini, who mistakes Padma to be his lover. Sundaram convinces Mandakini to watch Padma’s performance. Unable to contain herself and filled with envy, Mandakini challenges Padma on the dance floor.

Thoroughly enjoying himself, Senapathi remarks, “Sabaash, sariyana potti” (Bravo, a fitting contest), a catchphrase that would go on to become immensely popular in Tamil Nadu.

Padma and Mandakini take on each other through a variety of dancing styles. To Padma’s opening Bharatanatyam sequence, Mandakini responds with a more free-flowing erotic style. “I will dance, watch me, and my dance will cast a spell on the audience,” she sings as she gracefully glides.

C Ramachandra’s composition changes tracks and moods to accommodate Mandakini’s entry. Padma’s response is framed in the Bharatanatyam idiom. The war on the dance floor also takes the help of caustic lyrics. “Don’t try to win love through a contest,” Padma sings. “Why don’t you first give a fitting reply to my anklets instead of trying to talk smart,” Mandakini retorts.

As the dance-off gathers intensity and becomes a word-less argument, a terribly anxious Sundaram runs backstage and turns off the lights to end the contest forcibly.

Vanjikottai has to be the priority, he reminds himself.

Play
Vanjikottai Valiban (1958).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Why do our clothes fade, tear and lose their sheen?

From purchase to the back of the wardrobe – the life-cycle of a piece of clothing.

It’s an oft repeated story - shiny new dresses and smart blazers are bought with much enthusiasm, only to end up at the back of the wardrobe, frayed, faded or misshapen. From the moment of purchase, clothes are subject to wear and tear caused by nature, manmade chemicals and....human mishandling.

Just the act of wearing clothes is enough for gradual erosion. Some bodily functions aren’t too kind on certain fabrics. Sweat - made of trace amounts of minerals, lactic acid and urea - may seem harmless. But when combined with bacteria, it can weaken and discolour clothes over time. And if you think this is something you can remedy with an antiperspirant, you’ll just make matters worse. The chemical cocktail in deodorants and antiperspirants leads to those stubborn yellowish stains that don’t yield to multiple wash cycles or scrubbing sessions. Linen, rayon, cotton and synthetic blends are especially vulnerable.

Add to that, sun exposure. Though a reliable dryer and disinfectant, the UV radiation from the sun causes clothes to fade. You needn’t even dry your clothes out in the sun; walking outside on a sunny day is enough for your clothes to gradually fade.

And then there’s what we do to our clothes when we’re not wearing them - ignoring labels, forgetting to segregate while washing and maintaining improper storage habits. You think you know how to hang a sweater? Not if you hang it just like all your shirts - gravity stretches out the neck and shoulders of heavier clothing. Shielding your clothes by leaving them in the dry-cleaning bag? You just trapped them in humidity and foul odour. Fabrics need to breathe, so they shouldn’t be languishing in plastic bags. Tossing workout clothes into the laundry bag first thing after returning home? It’s why the odour stays. Excessive moisture boosts fungal growth, so these clothes need to be hung out to dry first. Every day, a whole host of such actions unleash immense wear and tear on our clothes.

Clothes encounter maximum resistance in the wash; it’s the biggest factor behind premature degeneration of clothes. Wash sessions that don’t adhere to the rules of fabric care have a harsh impact on clothes. For starters, extra effort often backfires. Using more detergent than is indicated may seem reasonable for a tub full of soiled clothes, but it actually adds to their erosion. Aggressive scrubbing, too, is counterproductive as it worsens stains. And most clothes can be worn a few times before being put in the wash, unless of course they are sweat-soaked gym clothes. Daily washing of regulars exposes them to too much friction, hastening their wear and tear.

Different fabrics react differently to these abrasive agents. Natural fabrics include cotton, wool, silk and linen and each has distinct care requirements. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, are sensitive to heat and oil.

A little bit of conscious effort will help your clothes survive for longer. You can start by lessening the forces acting on the clothes while washing. Sort your clothes by fabric instead of colour while loading them in the washing machine. This helps save lighter fabrics from the friction of rubbing against heavier ones. It’s best to wash denim materials separately as they are quite coarse. For the same reason, clothes should be unzipped and buttoned before being tossed in the washing machine. Turning jeans, printed clothes and shirts inside out while loading will also ensure any abrasion is limited to the inner layers only. Avoid overloading the washing machine to reduce friction between the clothes.

Your choice of washing tools also makes a huge difference. Invest in a gentler detergent, devoid of excessive dyes, perfumes and other unnecessary chemicals. If you prefer a washing machine for its convenience, you needn’t worry anymore. The latest washing machines are far gentler, and even equipped to handle delicate clothing with minimal wear and tear.


Bosch’s range of top loading washing machines, for example, care for your everyday wear to ensure they look as good as new over time. The machines make use of the PowerWave Wash System to retain the quality of the fabrics. The WaveDrum movement adds a top-down motion to the regular round action for a thorough cleaning, while the dynamic water flow reduces the friction and pulling forces on the clothes.

Play

The intelligent system also creates water displacement for better movement of clothes, resulting in lesser tangles and clothes that retain their shape for longer. These wash cycles are also noiseless and more energy efficient as the motor is directly attached to the tub to reduce overall friction. Bosch’s top loading washing machines take the guesswork away from setting of controls by automatically choosing the right wash program based on the load. All that’s needed is a one-touch start for a wash cycle that’s free of human errors. Read more about the range here. You can also follow Bosch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.