Apoorva Ragangal is a gem and a masterpiece. It is the kind of films that get made once in a generation. But not so for someone with the genius of KB Sir. He has made numerous such films, and among such films, this one could be rated as a 'first among equals'.
The plot is riveting. Though I haven't seen 40 Carats, I read its plot line. This movie may have been inspired by 40 Carats, but significantly develops the plot and gives it a true KB touch. Like many of his movies, it is so ahead of its time. Deals with such complicated characters and relationships in such a deft, mature and elegant manner. There are no embarrassingly melodramatic scenes, no contrived endings to cater to mass appeal. Songs are so intricately woven into the film. Camera angles are fantastic. Each and every actor has tried to outdo the other in their performances so it is difficult to pick the best of them. All in all, it is a one-of-a-kind movie.
Story line (contains spoilers)
The story revolves around the lives of Prasanna (Kamalahasan), M.R.Bhairavi or MRB (Srividya), Mahendran (Major Sundarrajan), Ranjani (Jayasudha). Nagesh as Dr. Soori is also there.
Prasanna is a rebellious angry young man with with egalitarian ideals who cannot tolerate injustice in any form and will go to any lengths, even violence, to accomplish these ideals. He along with his friends keep pursuing street justice and vigilantism since they find it justifiable.
M.R.Bhairavi (MRB) is a classical musician.
Mahendran is a wealthy businessman.
The story opens with a classical music performance of MRB. At the end of the concert Dr Soori who is also the president of the music sabha, while thanking her, refers to the personal life of MRB, much to her embarrassment. Meanwhile, Prasanna gets beaten up and left on the roadside after an altercation. MRB spots him lying unconscious and takes him to her house for rest and recuperation.
Meanwhile in Bangalore, at a comedy play, Ranjani sees Mahendran crying, and repeatedly pesters him on the reason. He initially refuses, but then yields to this energetic and inquisitive stranger who seems to be taking an interest in his affairs and tells her that he and his son Prasanna had had a falling out over the latter's questionable ways and that he had left him, and that was the reason why he was depressed. Ranjani also has had a falling out with her mother and is living by herself. Mahendran requests Ranjani to stay at his house, as a friend and well-wisher. Initially reluctant, Ranjani agrees to this.
The subsequent plot development is in terms of the relationship between MRB and Prasanna on the one hand, and between Ranjani and Mahendran on the other.
MRB's demeanor, maturity and feminine touch all have a sobering and calming effect on Prasanna, who finds himself getting attracted to her. He confesses his attraction to her, much to her shock - while Prasanna is barely 20, MRB is middle aged. Moreover, MRB has a daughter his age (we come to know that this is Ranjani) who was born out of wedlock. MRB had withheld to Ranjani the fact that she was her real daughter and had told her that she was her adopted daughter - when Ranjani comes to know, she gets upset and leaves the house. Even with these revelations, Prasanna is all the more interested in her.
Likewise, Mahendran's honesty, uprightness and devotion to his deceased wife all create an attraction for Ranjani towards him. Ranjani expresses her love to Mahendran, much to his shock as well. Mahendran points to the age gap between them but Ranjani is steadfast in her love and sabotages Mahendran's efforts to get her married to someone else. Finally he acquiesces.
Two complications happen. One: Mahendran goes to MRB's house in order to book a concert by her in his sabha in Bangalore. While waiting, he sees a photograph of his son Prasanna along with MRB and learns that they are about to get married. He comes away quietly without meeting MRB.
Two: The father of MRB's out of wedlock child comes to MRB's house. He says that he has blood cancer and does not have very long to live, and wants to meet MRB and his child before he dies. But before he could meet her, Prasanna intercepts him, finds out who he is, and takes him to a wayside room where he keeps him under his care.
Matters come to a head when all the four - Prasanna, Mahendran, MRB and Ranjini meet and realize that there is no easy way out of this tangled web.
The concert happens in Bangalore, and Rajinikanth is in the audience. MRB goes to meet him after the concert. They exchange looks but he dies before he could speak a word to her. MRB erases the vermillion on her forehead to imply that she has decided to forgive him and give him the status as her husband and legitimize their relationship, which would now make her a widow. Ranjani and MRB bury their differences, and so do Prasanna and Mahendran. The last scene shows that they all decide to remain friends, and that Prasanna is now a reformed person.