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Rich and Arrogant to Poor, Blind,

Leper - M. R. Radha

lesson21:

The role played by Mr.M.R.Radha in "Ratha Kaneer" is unbelievable. His character is that Mohan,returning from abroad to his native place. He is rich, exposed to western culture of living and arrogant. He womanizes given any single opportunity and condemns the customs and supernatural beliefs.

Mohanasundaram (M. R. Radha) is a philanderer, chain-smoker and drunkard. He does not respect elders, or people below his social standards. He is married to Chandra (Sriranjani), a cultured, well-mannered, conservative Indian village girl. But he develops an affair with Kantha (M. N. Rajam), a prostitute.

His best friend Balu tries to advise him and mend his ways but Mohan turns a deaf ear. Mohan even failed to attend his own mother's post-death formalities as he wanted to attend the birthday function of Kantha's mother. Mohan loses his mind over Kantha, even surrenders all his riches to her and also loses every loved one in his life. When he lost the last of his riches and close ones, he gets struck down by leprosy.His life then turns upside down. With no money left for the treatment of his disease, he is totally ignored and despis ed by Kantha and her associates.She even locks him up in a room and treats him like an untouchable.

In a few days, Kantha throws him out of her house and Mohan loses his eyesight soon after. As a poor leper, he wanders the streets to beg for food. In this last stage of his life, he learns the value of life itself and how to respect others. He feels remorseful for the way he treated his wife, mother and everyone else around him. He meets Chandra, his wife, who now lives a scarce life. Both do not recognize each other, as he is blind and she gets to see only his disfigured, leprosy-stricken face. He also meets his old best friend, Balu. The trio finally recognize each other. Mohan also learns through Balu about Kantha's death in an air crash. Mohan marries Chandra to Balu, in the hope that the still-virgin Chandra can now only be loved and cared for by a better man than Mohan himself. He also speaks his parting words and requests a leper's statue to be risen in his likeness, as a threatening example to philanderers like himself.

M.R.Radha's acting was brilliant in this movie. Here is a scene where he is requested to speak to "paatalli" working class. He sits in a casual manner, commenting now and then when other speakers speak. The following is the dialogue in English (though not perfect translation).

First Speaker :" Now, our highly respected, Mr.Mohan will speak on situation of working class today".

Mohan(M.R.Radha) :immediately responds arrogantly " I don't like".

Balu (S.S. Rajenderan) :takes the mike, " Mr.Mohan thinks it is not the appropriate time to talk about working class".

First Speaker :" Oh if he thinks so, then let him speak on what he feels is appropriate" M. R. Radha stands up and is not willing to walk up to the mike, " Who is the electrician, mike here. Down.Ladies and Gentlemen".

First Speaker : " Please speak in tamil" and the crowd joins in chorus "please speak in tamil".

M.R.Radha : "What is the noise?"

Balu : " Mohan, these people cannot understand any other language than tamil. please speak in tamil".

M.R.Radha : "Tamil? Friends! I have not come to while away the time here. I was under the impression that i will be given a warm welcome here and expected high class people to receive me But i have been disappointed. I find the crowd mostly comprising of labourers (looks behind and orders ) Coffee. I dont like such crowds...always complaining of draught,poverty hunger. Every small town has its own leader, each having his own principle with hunger stricken followers...nonsense. Balu said that labourers in foreign countries live a nice life style....Foreign labourers born in America and Europe will live like that only..it is their fate.You people were born here, you will live like this only..that is your fate! People here tell you about the high life style that we lead and make you feel angry and jealous. Do they care to tell you the reason behind it? (Crowd cheers) We are not supposed to talk about these things. Since my next engagement is ball dance, i am concluding my speech..thanks".

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After losing all money, blind and suffering from leprosy, here is a scene where M R Radha is begging for food:

M.R. Radha : " Can any one please provide me with food..i am feeling very hungry..food please please Balu (he does not recognize his friend Mohan) "Here is some money. keep it" M.R.Radha (refusing to accept money): "Money! Money! Money that made me enjoy with prostitutes.. Money that made me dessert my wife...I dont want it...Dont want it..I dont want money...Please provide me with food...Its money that has brought me to this level..!

Balu: "What to do now? You are not accepting money and i dont find any hotel here too to get you food".

M.R. Radha: "Oh..no, i dont want to eat food from hotel..i cannot remove all the stones that are mixed with rice...when a person who can see finds the task difficult how can a blind man search and remove the stones mixed in rice( ridiculing hotel food).

Balu:" Ok will you come with me. I will give you home made food."

M.R. Radha: "Sure, how far is your house."

Balu: "About two miles."

M.R. Radha:"Two miles? No problem...for food i am willing to go even ten miles." (Balu asks the "coolie" boy to guide M. R. Radha.)

As M. R. Radha grabs the guiding stick from the "coolie", he says " slowly slowly". After reaching home the "coolie" boy gets into an argument with Mr.Balu over payment. Mr.Balu gives 50 paise but the boy asks for 12 more paise.

Baluto the boy:" You agreed for 50 paise. Now why are you asking for more".

Boy:" What Sir, in this hot weather i have carried the bags..couldn't you pay a little bit more?" M.R. Radha interferes " Hey boy, why do you want to fight? Take what is given to you and leave".

Boy now shouts angrily at M.R. Radha " Hey you shut up, you begger".

M.R.Radha to Mr Balu" Did you notice? Him calling me a begger? He talks as if he is a multi millionaire. You did the work of carrying the bag for money whereas i am going to be fed food for not doing anything. So i am better than you, get lost".

Boy: "God has punished you only for this arrogance"

M.R.Radha : "Oh! Is that so? God has kept you in the "top" and me in the "underground" is it?Get lost! You talk as if you are God's secretary..In one place they worship Godand in another place they kick him off, stupid people".

Balu: "What is it that you are trying to tell?"

M.R. Radha: "In thiruvanamalai (place of worship) , they worship fire".

Boy: " Yes, ofcourse, because it is lord of fire, Agni".

M.R.Radha: " Oh, is that so, Agni being lord of fire so you worship, is it? then what do you do when the same lord of fire, Agni, burns your house. Dont you panic in despair?Dont you have to worship that fire too! Why are you telling lies and whom are you trying to fool.

Boy to Balu: "Sir, this guy is very arrogant, be careful" and leaves.

Balu: "See, that boy is saying that you are very arrogant"

M.R.Radha:" Actually, you are arrogant. You should have told him that you will be 25 paise and then given him another 25 paise. Since you straightaway told that you will pay 50 paise, the boy is demanding more. Anyway, give me the food, let me eat and leave".

Balu:" Nobody is home now. Please wait"

M. R. Radha:" By the way please make sure you give some non vegetarian food..haven't tasted it in a long time".

Balu: " Oh i am sorry, we do not take non-vegetarian food as we believe in vegetarianism..not killing any living being"

M.R. Radha:" Oh very funny, you have a group for this too? Please dont mistake me, are you sure you dont kill any living being? What do you when a mosquito bites you? Don'tyou kill it?Balu is shocked.

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