Director: A. Bhimsingh; Writer: A. Bhimsingh, Jayakantan; Cinematographer: D.S. Pandian; Cast: Laxmi, Srikanth, Y.G. Parthasarathy, Nagesh, Neelakantan, Rajasulochana, Sukumari, Sundaribai, Jai Geetha
Duration: 02:04:27; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Lightness: 0.383; Volume: 0.247; Cuts per Minute: 15.145
Summary: Story: Jayakantan's novel and the story Agnipravesam
Noted Tamil writer Jayakantan (cf. Kaval Daivam, 1969) wrote this novel as a justification for his ending of the controversial story Agnipravesham (Ordeal by Fire). The film incorporates both works. Ganga (Laxmi) is raped and the stigma condemns her to remain unmarried, living with her widowed mother (Sundaribai) where her uncle sexually harasses her. Years later she tracks down the rapist: Prabhu (Srikanth), a chain-smoking, wealthy, lower-caste businessman, married and father of a teenage daughter. Ganga insists on him being ‘her man’ although the relationship remains platonic. She refuses his suggestion that she marry an old middle-class widower. The film reproduces the novel’s long conversations but somewhat dilutes their impact: nadaswaram music, traditionally played during marriages, is played over the rape in the car, and at the end Ganga, dressed in white like a widow, is compared in a voice-over to the pure and serene Ganges. The acting by Laxmi and Sundaribai convey the force and the underlying bitterness of the story. The film was hailed for bringing Tamil film up to the level of quality literature and for showing a married man in a relationship with an unmarried woman. That he is also a rapist seems not to have been so important to the critics.