You might be wondering why someone is posting Thalapati/Dalapati now in 2020. Well, I’ve plenty of reasons which struck the chords recently. Since then, that itch of sharing isn’t getting out of my mind. On a random Youtube feed, I came across the title bit scene where Deva (Mammootty) introduces Surya (Rajinikanth) to his wife Geetha and that bgm made me to watch the film thrice back-to-back in one day.
Imagine the impact it left on me and this happened almost one month back yet I can’t get over it for obvious reasons. What else you need to define a film as Classic.
Dalapathi/Thalapathi means Commander and at the end you’ll understand how titles are named with so much sense unlike these times 😛
It’s just not about the stardom and the film making, this flick delivers more values and reflects society with rawness and one should need some guts to portray reaching a larger audience even. I’d call that’s one quality which makes anything into a classic 🙂
This classic film flips around 4 lives although the cast is having Three Superstars as everyone guess. The 4th Superstar is the Mom character portrayed by Srividya as Kalyani and she’s another Superstar I’d say with that only one aspect which drives the life of these three characters.
Movie starts where a young girl leaves (ought to call as misses) her kid in a goods train who grows into a good human being helping everyone in a slum portrayed by Surya (Rajinikanth) and their region is unofficially under the control of Deva (Mammootty) on one side. Meanwhile, on the other side, Arjun (Arvind Swami) is a Collector who gets transferred to Deva’s place where on the day of his posting a crime scene will happen and that triggers him strongly to take charge of the town at any cost.
Below aspects drives the film and shows some values which we need to build I feel ( I felt so at least :P)
Honestly, breaking down the film to depict the feelings, emotions, values and the characters delivering the content possessed by every star in the film is so challenging like the same way one might feel while reading this.
Movie starts with a young girl placing a child in the moving goods train and raises in a slum.
Chapter 1 : Arjun helps in laying bore well to the needy people where people cheers and blesses his mom sarcastically “You could’ve raised another son like him” flashes another card where Surya gets into frame fighting against some goons ending with slum people taking him away after hitting Ramana (a local goon works under Deva). Later Surya’s friend shares what happened that day with Surya’s mom (who raised him in the slum) and Surya reciprocates the reason behind bashing the goon and his take against the powerful person Devaraj asking “What Devaraj is gonna do?“
Chapter 2 : I don’t know how to call this whether this should be Surya vs Deva or Surya and Deva.
In frame, we’ll see the arrival of Devaraj to the hospital to witness the condition of Ramana where Nagesh hesitates to share the information how the incident happened and he orders to bring Surya. Meanwhile Surya come across Subbalakshmi while dancing and in the end he meets goons of Devaraj. As usually, Surya rejects going to Deva with his goons, fight against them and warns to appear Devaraj only if he wants.
On the other side, he’ll come across a situation where a lady in his slum gets hospitalised and he helps them by taking bangles of a random girl, the same one whom he find while dancing. While returning to home he’ll come across Devaraj face to face. It is Surya vs Deva.
Here, he shows Surya portrays his guts on why he smacked his goon Ramana bravely to which Deva warns suffering him if something happens to Ramana. On the next day, Ramana dies eventually landing Surya in trouble. He’ll be charged and taken into custody. Surya gets tortured in police custody and gets released later with no clue who bailed him. After releasing, he will get to know it’s Devaraj who helped him to get bailed out. Surya asks Devaraj “Why did he released him?” and the answer impresses him. He binds to the sincerity and offers his life to Devaraj. This is Surya and Deva.
Now Devaraj introduces Surya to his wife as his Dalapathi
These scenes depict what is the character of Surya, Devaraj, how Surya meets Subbalakshmi and how Surya turns into Dalapathi.
Chapter 3 : Becoming Dalapathi, Surya continues to help people but under the presence of Deva he makes it with more pride and people starts respecting him, coming to Deva like never before. While leading his life in this way, Surya faces a situation where he has to visit Ramana’s home as his wife delivers a baby girl. This throws him into a regret for killing Ramana. And Sarvarayudu (Amrish Puri) meets Surya tries to convince him and join with him to rule the region where he rejects the offer saying “Devaraj is my friend and he never do anything with no legitimate reason.” Sarvarayudu leaves getting pissed with his strong rejection.
Chapter 4: Devaraj visits Surya’s slum to meet him and asks why he didn’t join hands with Sarvarayudu. To which Surya’s reply makes him feel bestowed and requests him to stay in his home leaving the slum. Surya humble disagree and Devaraj convinces him saying that “You have so many people but I’ve only you.“
In an incident, Surya bashes local inspector for his wrong deed and Subba lakshmi witnesses the public fight. Surya confesses what made him to hit police and What is Surya. He even tells that She is a brahmin girl who do traditional dance, sings classical music and how they both are out of sync. Having said that, while leaving he conveys that he isn’t the likeable type and she holds Surya’s hand letting him realise that she accepts him while tears rolling on her face.
These are few dialogues and anchoring points which lays the individual characters strong on their motives. Even the dialogues conveys what exactly a bond is, how one should be and what lacks these days indirectly (Again own opinion :P)
*Origin of a Love story and Friendship story*
Chapter 5 : The Return of Arjun in Town and Devaraj meets Sarvarayudu in front of a court. They’ll be having some rough conversation.
Immediately, Devaraj gets betrayed by his ally Gopalam and gets attacked severely suffering him almost to death. Surya saves Devaraj and admits him in hospital. While Lakshmi (Devaraj’s wife) is sobbing outside the operation theatre, Surya consoles her saying that nothing happens to Devaraj and she asks “Is that Doctors told?” and Surya replies “No!! Devaraj himself told that he’s not going to die“.
This is a gem. That one line reveals the potential of the character and tells us the willpower value.
Chapter 6 : Surya takes revenge on the betrayed Gopalam and burns him publicly on the day Arjun takes charge which will be seen by Arjun’s father himself. Arjun feels depressed with the state of law & order in the region. Commissioner shares why there’s no complaint lodged and no witness appeared against them till then. Arjun’s father admits that he’s ready to be the witness and he comes to know that Surya is the lost kid. The confrontation and the flashback he enquires with Kalyani gives him confidence in confirming that Surya is the one whom Kalyani is regretting and living with guilt for losing him from her young age.
Chapter 7 : Devaraj gets to know that Surya is in love with Subba lakshmi and visits her home with their marriage proposal. Subbalakshmi’s father, Sreenivasan (Chaaru hassan) who works in Collector office rejects the proposal questioning, “Who’s the bride” sarcastically letting them know his rejection.
And even declares that if they wants to let her marry with Surya, it’ll happen after his death. Devaraj seeks approval of Subba lakshmi and questions what lacks when they both like each other. Sreenivasan questions “Who is Surya, what is his caste and what he do” fully aware of the facts and the situation turns rough where Subba lakshmi pleads Devaraj to spare them and confess that her dad is ultimate to her. Subbalakshmi tells Surya that her dad fixed her marriage with the Collector.
Surya scoffs against Subbalakshmi and Devaraj for the happenings.
The confrontation in love, caste, justice portrays the culture in society and the characters built on that reacting to the story. To be honest, delivering a scene long back on caste is a brave step I’d say.
Chapter 8 : Arjun meets Devaraj & Surya to let them know that he’s going to take action against them and conveys that what they’re doing is injustice and unlawful eventually ending with a bad debate.
Subbalakshmi gets married to Arjun and in an unexpected situation Surya ties knot to Ramana’s wife.
Seetha Kalyanam track while Subbalakshmi marrying Arjun brings both hatred and pity towards her.
Chapter 9 : Surya gets to know that Lakshmi got pregnant and celebrates in sheer joy.
Meanwhile, Ramana’s grown up daughter asks Surya about his past. Arjun starts obstructing the every action of Deva and Surya committing. In one circumstance, cops get into a ugly fight where Deva’s wife gets a miscarriage and succumb them to depression.
Even Surya goes to Arjun’s home to warn him instead ending up telling Arjun’s mom (His mom also in fact) that don’t interfere in their matters for his welfare. Becoming aware of this Arjun’s father meets Surya and shares that Arjun’s mom is his mom too. Surya takes a promise from Arjun’s father not to reveal the fact and shares the same with his daughter (Ramana’s daughter) that his mom is Arjun’s mom who is living in the same town.
Chapter 10 : Surya tries to see his mom from far distance now and then after knowing the fact. Panthulu (Nagesh) asks Devaraj to do something for putting a stop in the mess. Devaraj expresses his hatred and concludes either Arjun must die or them.
Surya visits Arjun’s home to warn him where he accidentally meets Subba lakshmi and also warns Arjun softly to leave the town. In an another situation, Surya’s daughter visits Kalyani’s clinic and shares the story of Surya’s past with a cloth that she covered Surya when she left him.
Chapter 11 : Devaraj gets arrested while Sarvarayudu runs the backdrop and Surya takes the charge to break the law & order highlighting the instability and dilution in the governance of collector until they release Devaraj. He even kills the one who turns into approval in arresting Devaraj. Kalyani meets Surya and tells that Arjun is planning something to attack Surya and pleads to be safe as she got to know about him after all these years.
In the meantime, Arjun gets a transfer order and he wants to close the mess before he gets transferred.
Chapter 12 : Devaraj wants to take revenge on everyone who made him suffer and Surya confronts saying “Till now we attacked who did injustice only” to which Devaraj claims “Why are you hesitating to attack Arjun, Is it just because he married the girl you loved?“. Surya replies and clarifies breaking the doubts of Devaraj confessing that he got to know recently that Arjun is his brother and Kalyani is his mom. Devaraj shocks and declares that he’s going to surrender seeking the welfare of Surya saying “You are my family and your family members are also my family“.
Commissioner tells Arjun that he has arranged everything to kill Devaraj and Surya with the help of Sarvarayudu where Arjun asks “Then it won’t bring any difference between us and Surya/Devaraj“. Hearing that Kalyani pleads not to kill Surya revealing that he is his brother.
Devaraj announces that he is willing to surrender and gets attacked in the premises of Arjun’s house and loses his life in the attack planned by Sarvarayudu and Surya takes revenge in killing Sarvarayudu immediately putting an end to the story.
Confrontation lines between Surya and Devaraj shares the values hidden behind their actions performed till then and also wants to let us know that no emotion is beyond the love of a closed one.
Now people are often mentioning that they’ve decoded the detailing what narrator wants to narrate. Considering that point, I’d say veteran directors like Mani Ratnam has showed those resemblances back in those days without much hype. If someone watches movie simply finds the rise of sunrise and sunset parallel to the scenes happening.
First time when Surya and Subba lakshmi fall in love, Subba lakshmi sings a song where the sunrises. The same happens when she sing at dusk while Kalyani finds her to marry for Arjun. Even while surya hearing about his mom details sunsets and clearly when Subba lakshmi leaves surya, one can evidently find the resemblance as end of the day.
Kalyani — Surya’s mom is short in the beginning but the whole story of Surya originates from her side.
Surya — The man of values and kind heart joins with Deva for saving him although he need not to.
Deva — Goon who see justification in the actions and takes care of his people.
Arjun — IAS who is true to the duty and comprises when his mom pleads to spare his brother revealing the other shade as a family man.
Subba lakshmi — A Brahmin girl who is bounded by the religious and family rules loses her love.
Padma — Ramana’s wife who later marry Surya plays the key role to signal Kalyani that her son is in the same town. Too intellectual with less words and totally turns the film for conclusion.
The biggest asset of the film is the background score. For a classic film like this, one needs a maestro to justify the theme and with no doubt Ilayaraja made it with ease.
Every tune right from the beginning in those title credits, leaving the baby in train, memories of Surya and Kalyani, Meetings between Sarvarayudu, Arjun, Surya and Devaraj individually is composed pretty balanced.
Totally, the film is pure blender of emotions and values delivering through crisp dialogues.
I took the liberty in using the names mostly from Telugu being from the state and watched it in the same language believing emotions don’t have a barrier..
Until next review,