Path-breaking films of their times often get embedded in the fond memories of viewers experiencing their successful run at the box office. Many of such classics continue to impress the next generations too, because of their exceptional content, music and execution. The beginning of the ’80s witnessed quite a few trendsetting films laying a new foundation in Hindi cinema and Ek Duuje Ke Liye (Made For Each Other/1981) stands tall among them all for its exceptional merits.
Directed by the veteran K. Balachander, it was the official remake of his Telugu (B&W) film Maro Charitra (Another History/1978) featuring Kamal Haasan, Saritha and Madhavi. The film’s Hindi version based on an inter-caste/ culture affair, not only introduced Kamal Haasan, Rati Agnihotri, Madhavi and Sunil Thapa in Hindi films, but also proved to be a breakthrough project for S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who had earlier sung for a few Hindi projects. Included among the best works of Laxmikant Pyarelal, Anand Bakshi, Lata Mangeshkar and Balasubrahmanyam, its soundtrack remains the favourite among all age groups, even after four decades of its conception.
Winning critical acclaim and awards, Ek Duuje Ke Liye has been widely written about with reference to many behind the scene stories. Mentioning them in short, the film earlier titled Ek Aur Itihaas wasn’t considered as an exciting project for the distributors before its release. Where the composers were at first reluctant to use Balasubrahmanyam’s voice for the lead, Raj Kapoor was not convinced with its culmination conveying a tragedy. Reportedly, the director wished to know the meaning of the term ‘zer-o-zabar’ in the lyrics before shooting the verse and Rati had in reality mixed the burns of a photograph in her tea before drinking it for a sequence. In addition, the film’s soundtrack had a unique song, innovatively written by using the titles of all the earlier released Hindi films.
On the other hand, its climax became the news when a few instances of suicides were stated, inspired by the film’s tragic climax. The makers were then forced to experiment with a different ending, but had to move back to the original on public demand. However, it was this tragedy in the film’s climax only that became the seed for its undeclared sequel suggested by Kamal Haasan.CinemaScope: Why such stereotyped portrayal of Sikhs in Hindi cinema?
Before moving further, just assume a sequel of Ek Duuje Ke Liye that begins with Vasu and Sapna standing on the cliff before committing suicide. They talk about their love, holding each other’s hands, make a passionate kiss, and then jump over together, stepping into an unknown world. But sadly, the tragedy takes a new twist when Sapna keeps falling into the trench, but Vasu gets caught in the branches of a tree, watching Sapna dying right in front of his eyes, feeling the unexplainable pain. Luckily or unluckily he doesn’t die along with his love, getting caught by the law and sentenced for his crime of attempting suicide, causing another death.
Forcibly living a life full of guilt, he comes out of jail after a few years and joins a dance school as the teacher, but destiny has its own plans to look after the suffering soul. Incidentally, he saves a young girl trying to commit suicide from the same cliff, who later joins his dance classes, bringing love back love into his life, leading to another tragedy.CinemaScope: The undisclosed secret of Manoj Kumar and Sadhana-starrer 'Woh Kaun Thi'
Thankfully, the team did work on this interesting story idea of a sequel but they didn’t call it Maro Charitra 2 (or Ek Duuje Ke Liye 2) for their undisclosed reasons. They made it as Punnagai Mannan (King of Smiles) in Tamil releasing in 1986, featuring Kamal Haasan in a double role along with Revathi, Srividya and Rekha playing the key characters. Directed by K. Balachander with music by Illaiyaraaja, the film was a success at the box office, later also dubbed as Dance Master in Telugu. Apart from being an undeclared sequel, Punnagai Mannan has a few worth noticing merits that deserve a special mention praising the visionary creative effort by the team. It has Kamal playing a comic artist who dresses and enacts like Charlie Chaplin with an amazing ease and his scenes as Chaplin are a sheer treat to watch. But more importantly, the film also has a two-minute sequence in which Kamal plays a dwarf to make a young girl smile. And he did it three years before Apoorva Sagodharargal (Rare Brothers) releasing in 1989, later dubbed as Appu Raja in Hindi.
As additional information, even Punnagai Mannan has been dubbed in Hindi with the title Chacha Charlie available on YouTube. But the poorly dubbed version is strongly not recommended with the weird and misguiding title revealing it all. Coming back to Ek Duuje Ke Liye, its climax has another innovative back-stage story shared by the makers, but let’s keep it for another write-up keeping the interest alive.
(The writer is a critic-columnist, an explorer of cinema and author of ‘Did You Know’ series on Hindi films also active at bobbytalkscinema.com)CinemaScope: The unique connect between ‘The Snake Dance’, Guide and Lamhe