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1994 153’ col/scope Tamil d/sc Bharthirajaa pc Vetrivel Art Creations st/dial M. Rathnakumar lyr Vairamuthu c B. Kannan m A.R. Rehman lp Raja, Rajashree, Periyadhasan, Maheshwari, Rajina

Remarkable Bharthirajaa melodrama addressing the feudal practice of female infanticide in parts of Tamil Nadu. The school teacher Soosai secretly adopts the third daughter of the villager Mokkaiyan (Periyadhasan) when he learns that she is to die. The two elder daughters, Periyakanni and Karuthamma (Rajashree), grow up to a tragic fate. Periyakanni is unhappily married and sees her own daughter killed at birth. Karuthamma, however, gets her sister’s evil husband arrested for the act, supported by the progressive veterinarian Stephen (Raja). In the end, when the evil husband is released from jail, Karuthamma kills him. A second plot has Karuthamma fall in love with Stephen to the envy of his urban girlfriend Rosy (Maheshwari), who eventually turns out to be the surviving third sister of Karuthamma. The film’s opening sets the tone as an ancient nurse sings a lullaby in a cracked voice, preparing to feed poisoned cactus milk to girls who have to die. The director, enhancing his selfmade image of social reformer, introduces the film. Nevertheless, he occasionally achieves surprisingly tragic, primitive realism, strengthened by Rehman’s extraordinary song Porale ponnu thayi.