Movie: Swathi Muthyam (The Pearl)
Director: K Viswanath
Music Director: Ilayaraja
Cast: Kamal Hassan, Radhika, Unni Mary (Deepa)
Other versions: Tamil (Sippikkul Muthu) and Hindi (Eshwar)
Major Awards: Swathi Muthyam was India's official entry for the 1986 Oscars.
Plot: Sivayya is a childlike man. He doesn’t know what is wrong and what is right. For him everybody in the world is good and innocent. And he doesn’t have a thought of himself. He only does well for those around him, and he does only what he is told to by people who he likes. He is positive and the movie is a look at the world through his good heart. The divinity of Sivayya’s character is the beauty of the movie.
Swathi Muthyam have a very relaxed way of presentation, movie moves slowly and it takes its time to develop and it helps the characters to reach our heart. Greatness of Viswanath’s direction can be identified in various scenes for example when the camera focuses on the face of Kamal Hassan and the kid after his grandmother’s sudden death. As most of the Viswanath movies silence, eyes and music plays a vital role to convey message.
Swathi Muthyam is very down to Earth and honest. Sivayya’s character is not shown doing any extraordinary things to turn everything around. He remains as he was throughout the movie. In the end we feel only he is normal and all others are abnormal. This is his world. He is ‘Swathi Muthyam’ (The Pearl).
Performance: Kamal Hassan is cute, lovable and amazing. Expressions showing his innocents are just outstanding. Watch out for the funny scene when he follows an elder person for a job or his hundred million worth expression when he asks Radhika whether he should say truth or lies? ‘Nijam cheppaala? Abbaddham cheppaala?’ He is remarkable.
Radhika? She is the soul of the story, each and every scenes revolves around her character and her eyes speaks 100 poems at a time. This is the best performance in Radhika’s career. Watch out for her eyes and facial expressions when she stares Kamal and gives the stick back to him after Kamal get beaten by a guy. Beautiful and it’s hard to imagine another actress as Lalitha or Sivayya. These characters are born for them.
Another notable performance is by Unni Mary (Deepa) as a well wisher and a close friend of Sivayya.
Maestro Ilayaraja at his tremendous best, the background score and songs are so beautiful and are more than the words can express. ‘Laali Laali..’ is an awesome song and is one of the best lullaby you will ever listen to. Listening to the song along with the movie will enter your list of collections. The tone of Laali Laali is used few times for some emotional scenes and it just touches our heart directly. Excellent work by the legend. Then ‘Suvvi suvvi…’ is another beautiful song. This lyrics of Suvvi suvvi… reflects the characters and their heart of Sivayya and Lalitha.
‘Rama Kanavemi ra..’ song is yet another classic song by Ilayaraja.
Kamal gives one of his finest performances as Sivayya, his way of walking, his expressions, his habit of raising his hand, everything gelling perfectly. Radhika complements him wonderfully, expressing through her eyes, not going overboard. Viswanath’s movies always had strong female characters, and it’s the same here too.
The movie touches your heart mainly because it has shown the beauty of relationships in the best beautiful way you will ever dream of, you wished to have. Love – Lalith and Sivayya, parents and children, grandfather and grandsons everything either in the way you wished or in the way you had. I wish to go back 20 years from now whenever I listen to the song ‘laali laali…’
A remake was made in Hindi as Eeswar. To feel the originality and the power of the simplicity K Viswanath’s Telugu version is the best, I recommend. ‘Eeswar’ is not upto the class of ‘Swathi Muthyum’ for its music, nativity and performance.
Looking closer, the movie has few similarities with Forrest Gump (1994). Character of Sivayya reminds me of exactly the same as Forrest. The book Forrest Gump was released in 1986.
I rate this movie high along with Pursuit of Happyness in the same genre.
Is very special, very beautiful, touching and is a movie with heart
Rating: 4.75 / 5