wiki:Swathi Thirunal

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Swathi Thirunal

1987 133’ col/scope Malayalam d/co-s Lenin Rajendran p G.P. Vijay Kumar pc Seven Arts Films co-s Varaham Balakrishnan c Madhu Ambat m M.B. Srinivasan lp Anant Nag, Srividya, Ambika, Ranjini, Nedumudi Venu

Biographical fantasy about Swathi Thirunal, best-known of the 19th C. Travancore kings. The British treaty (1795) established Travancore as an independent state figureheaded by its royalty. As with e.g. the Mysore state and other capitals of former rulers reduced to ceremonial function, this period saw a major revival of classical music and performing arts. However, Swathi Thirunal’s reign has received special attention, as a relatively uncomplicated era preceding Travancore’s decline into the 20th- C. rule of the despotic Diwan C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer against whom the 1940s communist uprising was directed. The big-budget CinemaScope film, by a director noted for his CPI(M) sympathies, appropriates what it presents as a ‘golden age’ in Travancore history. Its resemblance to G.V. Iyer’s Hamsa Geethe (1975) in this regard is further heightened by the presence of leading man Nag, whose naturalist underplaying of the king contrasts with the elaborate period decor. After establishing the king’s credentials as lover and patron of art and music, and as staunch antiimperialist, the film devolves into a love story with the Tanjore dancer Sugandhavalli (Srividya). The escalating political crisis is represented by the arrival of a new general, and ends with the king’s death.