Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Hollywood films based on The Bible were very popular in India. But Indian films based on The Bible were rarely produced. The need for spectacular sets, expensive costumes, etc. might have kept away producers and directors from making one. Films like Gnana Sundari (1961) andGenova (1954), both with a Christian backdrop, were made in Malayalam. But they were not based on The Bible.
The Tamil film Magdalanaattu Mary (1957), produced by Citadel Films, must probably be the first Bible-based South Indian film. Snapaka Yohannan, released on March 31, 1963, was the first Malayalam film that told on screen a story from The Bible. The film was a huge hit. Produced by Neela Productions and directed by P. Subramaniam, the film was fully shot at Merryland Studios. Popular novelist Muttathu Varkey wrote the script and dialogues.
Jose Prakash performed the central character. Popular artists like Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair, G. K. Pillai, Miss Kumari, L. Vijayalakshmi, Pankajavalli, Kanchana etc. performed important roles.
The film told in brief the story of The Bible, with a special focus on the character of St. John The Baptist (Snapaka Yohannan). Yohannan (Jose Prakash) is brought up in the deserts by his mother fearing the order of the King of Judea who, in an attempt to get rid of infant Jesus, ordered the killing of all infants in Bethlehem. Yohannan grows up and preaches the righteous path of life. He criticises the incestuous marriage of Antipas (Thikkurissi), his brother’s wife, with Herodia (Pankajavalli). Antipas had abandoned his faithful and pious wife Mariam (Miss Kumari).
At the instance of Herodia, her secret lover Naamaan (Kottarakkara) captures Yohannan and attempts to kill him. But Yohannan escapes. Mariam enters the palace of Antipas disguised as a servant maid. She comes to know about the secret plan of Herodia and Naamaan against Antipas. Fascinated by the dance of Herodia’s daughter Salomy (L. Vijayalakshmi) Antipas promises to gift her with whatever she demands. Prompted by her wicked mother, she demands the head of Yohannan. And Yohannan is beheaded. Even Salomy’s lover Julian (Prem Nazir) hates her for this cruel deed. Antipas comes to know about the wicked plans of Herodia and Naamaan and they are punished. Jose Prakash excelled in the role of Yohannan and many consider it the best in his career.
Out of the ten songs in the film, two were written by Vayalar Rama Varma and the rest by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair. The music was by Brother Lakshmanan. Aakasathin Mahimavey… ( P. Leela), Oshana Oshana … (Kamukara Purushothaman, Jose Prakash, A. P. Komala, C. S. Radha Devi) and Bethlehemile… (Leela, K. J. Yesudas and chorus) became hits.
Will be remembered: As the first Malayalam film based on The Bible, for some of the songs and for the performance of Jose Prakash.
Successful stage plays have often been adapted on screen since the birth of Indian cinema. The first talking film Alam Ara (1931) was the screen version of the Parsi play of the same title written by Joseph David, a renowned playwright. In the South, the legendary dramatist Pammal Sambandham Mudaliar’s playKaalavarshi was the first in this series which was filmed as Kaalava (1932) in Tamil.
In Malayalam, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair’s successful stage drama Sthree, which was adapted on the screen under the same title in 1950, was the first in this genre. Most of the successful plays staged by KPAC, a prominent professional drama troupe in Kerala, were made into films under the same titles. Mudiyanaya Puthran, released in 1961, was the first in this series of KPAC plays.
The successful stage play Puthiya Akasham Puthiya Bhoomi was written by Thoppil Bhasi in 1959 and staged by KPAC the same year. It won the Sahitya Akademi award for the best play that year. T. E. Vasudevan produced the film version under the same title in 1962 and was honoured with the National award in the best regional films category.
The film did not do well at the box office hit though the play was a huge hit.
Directed and edited by M. S. Mani, the film was shot at Narasu Studio and Newton Studio in Madras.
The film pointed a finger at the corruption in key sectors of administration like irrigation and the unjust exploitation of natural resources.
Agriculture is the occupation of the majority of the people in Mulankavu, a remote village in Kerala. The village suffers from drought and lack of irrigation facilities. With the support of other farmers in the village, Kunju Nair (Thoppil Krishna Pillai) gets permissiom from the Government to build up a bund to store water for irrigating the agricultural land.
Sukumaran (Satyan) is appointed by the Department to explore the possibilities of increasing the storage capacity of Velayar Dam near the village. His father-in-law (Kottayam Chellappan) is the Chief Engineer of the dam. Johnson (Kottarakara) owns estates surrounding the dam and most of his estate holdings will be drowned if the capacity of the dam is increased. Corrupted by Johnson, Sukumaran’s father-in-law gives a report against increasing the capacity of the dam.
Sukumaran finds that by increasing the capacity of the dam, the irrigation problem of Mulankavu and neighbouring villages will be solved.
Moreover, the villages can be supplied with electricity. Sukumaran’s father-in-law is scared that the true report on the expansion of the dam will expose his manipulations. He threatens Sukumaran and requests to hold back the report recommending expansion of the dam. Faithful and loyal to her husband and the country, Sukumaran’s wife Usha (B.S. Saroja), supports her husband and requests him to proceed with the project. The villagers offer labour for the construction work at reduced rates. The expansion work starts.
Meanwhile, a time bomb is planted in the work site by Usha’s father to sabotage the project as a last attempt to conceal his manipulations. Usha comes to know about this secret plan, but before she could reach the site, the bomb explodes taking the lives of Sukumaran and several other villagers at work.
The film ends with a scene in which Usha pays homage with flowers to her husband and the other workers who died.
There is also a sub plot to the film that tells the tragedy of Kunju Pillai’s daughter Rajamma (P.K. Leela), who is fascinated with cinema and is exploited by her brother-in-law Gopu (Bahadur), husband of her sister Ponnamma (Ragini). Satyan excelled in his role of the faithful engineer. Comedy scenes involving S.P. Pillai as Mammooty, the village tea shop owner, impressed.
Nine songs written by P. Bhaskaran were composed by M.B. Sreenivasan. The romantic duet Thamara thumbi vaa…. K. P. Udayabhanu, P. Leela), the dance number Murali Mohanakrishna…. (C. K. Revamma-Leela) became instant hits. Other hits include Asha tan poonthen …. (Jamunarani). Neram poy…. (K. S. George-Leela&chorus), Premathin naattukari….(P. Susheela) etc.
Will be remembered: For the National award and the music, especially the duet Thamara thumbi vaa…
Several Indian films were made with the river as the backdrop. The films talked about the lives of the people settled on the banks of the river, their lifestyles, their loves. The Hindi films Nadhi Kinare (1939) and Nadiya Ke Paar (1949) are examples of such films.
The Malayalam film Nadhi, released in 1969, was based on a story written by the noted stage and film actor P. J. Antony. Periyar provided the backdrop for the film. The dialogues were by Thoppil Bhasi.
The plot veers around two traditional Christian families and their long-standing feud that is rekindled when they occupy two rice boats anchored on the banks of the Periyar. The entire film was shot on the banks of the river at Aluva.
Produced by Supriya Productions and directed by A. Vincent , this was the first colour film of the director who created some of the best black and white classics like Bhargavi Nilayam (1964), Murappennu (1965), Ashwamedham (1967) etc. Music by G. Devarajan was the highpoint of the film.
Vincent won the Kerala State Award for Best Director, while Baby Sumathi won the award for the Best Child Star. The film went on to become a box-office hit.
Thomman (Thikkurissi) and Varkey (P. J. Antony) are heads of the two families who are war with each other. Baby (Baby Sumathi), daughter of Varkey’s widowed daughter Leela (Ambika), shares a special friendships with Thomman’s son Johny (Prem Nazir). Varkey’s daughter Stella (Sharada) falls in love with Johny. Stella’s love affair is not approved by her family, especially by her brother Sunny (Madhu). Sunny often gets into an altercation with Johny. The family feud reaches a feverish pitch.
Varkey’s alcoholism turns serious. His family decide to return home. The night before this Baby accidentally falls in the river and is drowned. Thomman’s family go over to Varkey’s boat and offer their sympathies. Both the families make arrangements for the funeral.
Suddenly, Varkey turns hysterical, grabs a rifle and shoots at Johny. But Sunny comes in between and is shot. Before he dies Sunny gives his sister Stella’s hand in marriage to Johny.
The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to music by Devarajan turned out to be immortal hits.
Aayiram paadasarangal…, Kayamboo kannil vidarum… , Puzhakal malakal…(K. J. Yesudas),Nityavishuddhayaam kanyamariyame… (Yesudas & chorus), Panchatantram kathayile…,Thappukottampuram thakilukottampuram… (P. Susheela) have stood the test of time.
Will be remembered: As a good family drama, for winning State awards for A. Vincent and Baby Sumathi and for its Excellent music
The Hindi film Gumrah (1963), B. R. Chopra's take on marital infidelity, was a huge hit. The unusual success of this film prompted ALS Productions to remake the same story in Malayalam as Vivahitha (1970) and history repeated itself.
Marital infidelity was the themes of other Hindi films like Dil Ek Mandir (1963), a remake of the Tamil film Nenjil Oru Alayam (1962). Tamil films like Manithan(1953), Ulagam Sirikkirathu (1959) also told the story of an Indian married woman who rejects her former lover when he happens to come into her family life.
Vivahitha was a true copy of Gumrah. Surprisingly even the names of important characters in the Hindi film, Ashok, Rajendra, Meena, Kamala, Leela, were retained in the Malayalam version. The script and dialogues by Thoppil Bhasi closely followed the original.
Produced by A. L. Sreenivasan, the film was directed by M. Krishnan Nair.
Planter Sreedharan's (T. S. Muthiah) elder daughter Kamala (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) is married to Barrister Ashok (Sathyan) who is practising in Madras. Kamala comes to Kerala with her children Darly (Baby Mythili) and Babu (Baby Rajani) on a short holiday. Kamala's sister Meena (Padmini) is in love with Rajendran (Prem Nazir), a rich young man who is also good singer and artist.
Kamala is in favour of their love, but before she could talk about this to her father she falls from the stairs and dies. Fearing ill treatment of his grand children from a stepmother, Sreedharan forces Meena to marry Ashok.
Meena leaves for Madras. She is now a dedicated wife who a loving mother to her sister's children. Meena comes home to attend the 60th birthday of her father. Rajendran is also invited for the celebrations.
Meena and Rajendran meet again. He invites Meena to his studio and these meetings continue. Ashok comes to Kerala and gets introduced to Rajendran. He invites the artist to Madras to exhibit his paintings. Meena and Ashok return to Madras.
Rajendran also reaches there. Meena begins to meet Rajendran on the sly in his hotel room. One day, when Meena was on her way home after meeting Rajendran, she meets Leela (Ushakumari) who claims to be Rajendran's wife. Leela blackmails Meena and demands money for keeping her affair and frequent meetings with Rajendran a secret. Meena even had to give away her diamond ring when she had no money to offer. When Meena comes with money to take back the ring, Leela runs away. Meena follows her and finds that Leela has been employed by Ashok to test her character. Meena attempts suicide but is saved by her loving husband.
Padmini and Sathyan excelled in their roles.
There were seven songs, written by Vayalar Rama Varma and tuned by G. Devarajan, in the film.Sumangali nee ormikkumo…, Devaloka rathavumaay thennaley…, Maya jalaka vaathil thurakkum….(K. J. Yesudas), Vasanthathin makalallo mullavalli…(Yesudas-P. Madhuri) etc. became very popular. The other hits include Pacha malayil … (P. Susheela), and Arayannamey inayarayannamey…(Yesudas).
K. J. Yesudas who completed 50 years of playback singing made his debut inKaalpaadukal, which was released on September 7, 1962. Produced by R. Nambyath for Sree Narayana Cine Productions and directed by K. S. Antony the film was shot at Golden Studios, Chennai. The film was produced as a part of the 108th birth anniversary celebrations of Sree Narayana Guru (Chathaya Dinam).
The story and dialogues, written by the director himself, focused on the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru, the great saint and social reformer. His famous teaching, ‘One caste, one religion, one God’ was propagated in the story. In fact, Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asaan appear as characters in the film. Cinematography by E. N. C. Nair and editing by K. D. George were commendable.
Dharmatma (Marathi/Hindi, 1935), based on life of Saint Eknath, Nandanar (Tamil 1935 & 1942),Ramalinga Swamikal (Tamil -1939), based on lives of saints of the same names, are some of the other films that focused on the issues of untouchability and caste discrimination.
Kaalpaadukal was not a box office hit but won the National Award in the regional films category.
Apart from popular artistes like Prem Nazir, Prem Nawaz, P. J. Antony, Shanthi, Aranmula Ponnamma several stage and amateur artistes acted in the film. This was the debut Malayalam film of K. R. Vijaya.
Maakotha (P. J. Antony) is a Dalit tenant of the wealthy landlord Iravi Namboodiri (Nambyath). Maakkotha’s teenaged son accidentally happens to touch Iravi Namboodiri. In those days, untouchability was a burning social evil. In his fury Iravi Namboodiri drags the boy to his house and beats him. Helpless Maakotha and his young daughter Paaru (Shanthi) stand dumb witness to the cruel act. Kind-hearted Unni Namboodiri (Prem Nazir), Iravi Namboodiri’s son, rescues the boy. Unni Namboodiri falls in love with Paaru. They meet secretly and their love blooms.
Unni Namboodiri meets Kumaran Asan (Kollam Sukumaran) who, by his poetical works, protested against untouchability. Sree Narayana Guru (K. P. Paul) guides the people follow ‘one caste, one religion, one God.’ The monopoly of Brahmins comes to an end. Guru establishes temples throughout Kerala. Unni Namboodiri mingles with the Dalits and takes part in all progressive movements led by Kumaran Asan.
Unni Namboodiri is thrown out of this house when Iravi Namboodiri comes to know of his son’s love affair with Paaru. Iravi Namboodiri’s men also thrash Maakkotha. The people revolt against Namboodiri and communal riots break out. Guru intervenes and frays down tempers. Unni Namboodiri weds Paaru bringing the film to a happy end.
M. B. Sreenivasan composed the music for the lyrics penned by P.Bhaskaran and Nambyath. Yesudas started his playback singing career rendering the lines Jaathi bhedam mathadwesham ethumillaathe sarvarum… This was also the debut film of singer Kamala Kailasnathan. The duet she sang with K. P. Udayabhanu, Karunasagarame kaniyu Gurudeva… became a huge hit. Other hits include Attention penne kaanumbol njan oru kaarirumbu…(Yesudas-Shanta P. Nair), Enthu cheyyendathengottu…(P.Leela), and Maalika muttathe mavine mohichu...(Leela).
Will be remembered: As the debut film of playback singers K. J. Yesudas and Kamala Kailasnathan and actor K. R.Vijaya. And as a National Award winning regional film.
Jungle movies, like those that had characters like Tarzan were extremely popular worldwide. Several such movies, with the jungles as the backdrop, were produced in various Indian languages. And most of them proved to be very successful too.Aana Valarthiya Vaanambaadi (1959) and Kaattu Maina (1963), films in the genre produced by Neela Productions, also set the box-office ringing.
Prompted by these earlier successes Neela Productions came up with another jungle movie, Kaattu Mallika in 1966, which also turned a huge hit.
Shot at Merryland Studios,the film was directed by P. Subramaniam. The story and dialogues were by the noted novelist Kaanam E. J. A few sequences and characters in the film resembled the Tamil movieVanamohini (1941) produced by South India United Artists Corporation and directed by the noted Hindi film comedian Bhagwan.
The stunt scenes, shot under the direction of Pulikeshi, were highpoint of this adventure movie. Cinematography by E .N. C. Nair and editing by M. Gopalakrishnan were commendable. Also impressive were the folk dances choreographed by Parthasarathy. The film marked the debut of lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi. The music was by M. S. Baburaj.
The hero of this film, Anandan, a Tamil actor, stood out in his adventurous role. This was also the Malayalam debut of the popular South Indian actress Geethanjali. Comedian S. P. Pillai acted in double role.
The other artistes in the film included Paravur Bharathan, Vaikom Mani, and Shanthi.
The story of the film veers around two tribal groups settled in two mountain ranges in Kerala. Chemban (Natarajan), the chief of Pulippara Mountain takes a fancy in Mallika (Geetanjali), the daughter of the chief of Aanappara Mountain. But Mallika does not like Chemban, who is an enemy of her father. Mallika is saved from Chemban several times by an unknown person. And Mallika falls in love with this Unknown Hero, who is actually Vikraman (Anandan).
Veeran (Paravur Bharathan) supports Chemban in all his wicked plans. At the insistence of Veeran, the chief priest of Aanappara lays down a condition for Mallika’s marriage. The bridegroom has to fight and win over a hungry tiger. This is seen as a trap to kill Vikraman. The wicked plan fails. Vikraman kills the tiger in the fight. But the people begin to play dirty tricks and manage to send Vikraman away from the mountains.
Mallika and her father are trapped by Chemban and kept under custody. Mallika manages to escape with the help of her friend Thamara (Shanthi). Vikraman returns to find Mallika all alone and struggling in the jungle.
Disguised as tribal fortune tellers, Kuravan and Kurathi, Vikraman and Mallika, enter Chemban’s camp. Vikraman takes on Chemban and his men in combat and defeats them. All the innocent tribal men kept under custody by Chemban, including Mallika’s father are freed. Vikraman marries Mallika bringing the adventurous jungle story to a happy end.
Anandan impressed in the fight scenes. The comedy scenes involving S. P. Pillai were also appreciated.
Ten songs written by Sreekumaran Thampi were tuned by Baburaj. Thamarathoniyil aalolamaadi…(K. J. Yesudas-S. Janaki) , Avalude kannukal… (P. B. Sreenivas ), Penney nin kanniley… (Kamukara Purushotaman-B.Vasantha), Pandathe paattukal… (Kamukara ) became very popular.
The other hits include Kalyanamakaatha….(Janaki) and Maranathin nizhalil…(Kamukara).
Will be remembered: As the debut film of lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi and popular South Indian actor Geethanjali.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Feb 12, 2013 (B VIJAYAKUMAR)
A glance at the list of Malayalam films released during 2012 confuses you. Makes you think seriously about the undesirable trend that is attaining more prominence year by year !! Some of the titles are just repetition of titles of films released earlier. There are exceptions for the copying of titles – three repetitions are remakes of the films of same title – “Nidra” (1981) , “Chattakkari” (1974) and “Rasaleela” (1975).
Films with the same titles released in 2012 are remakes of these films, like “Neelathamara” (2009) and “Rathinirvedam” (2011) during the previous years. But some other films with repeated titles are in no way related with the theme or storyline of earlier releases of same title. For example the 2012 releases - “Asuravithu “ , “Padmavyooham”, and “Simhasanam” bear just the titles of the earlier releases with same titles released in 1968, 1973, and 1979 respectively. Thinking that these films also are remakes just like “Nidra” or “Chattakkari”, and you buy tickets for the shows of the 2012 releases, then you are sure to get disappointed because the stories or the genre of these 2012 releases with the titles of earlier releases are entirely different !! You may not find any common factor in these later releases with that of the earlier ones ![ Continue Reading .... ]
The husband, wife and the other woman has been a favourite theme in literature. Indian cinema, in particular South Indian cinema, has frequently adapted such stories. The ancient Tamil classicChilappathikaram that followed a similar storyline was filmed in Tamil as Kannagi (1942) and in Malayalam as Kodungallooramma (1968). Early Malayalam films like Ponkathir ,Ashadeepam (1953), Mariyakutty (1958) etc, were successful films with this theme.
Snehadeepam , produced and directed by P. Subramaniam was another Malayalam film in this genre. Released on March 31, 1962, this film bombed at the box office. Produced under the banner of Neela Productions and shot mainly at Merryland Studios, this film marked the debut of music director M. B. Sreenivasan. The film also introduced Lata Raju (Baby Lata then) as playback singer.
The film had cinematography by N. S. Mani and editing by K. D. George. The script and dialogues were by the noted novelist Muttathu Varkey. The dances, choreographed by Thankappan, were a big draw.
Sreedhar (Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair) runs a factory, which is the ancestral property of his wife Lakshmi (Miss Kumari) and her brother Chandran (T. K. Balachandran). Sreedhar falls for the charm and guiles of a dancer Vilasini (Shanthi), who is the friend of Shankar (Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair), the assistant manager of the factory.
Gradually, Shankar and Vilasini manage to siphon off the wealth of Lakshmi’s family. When Shankar and Sreedhar realise that Chandran is in the know of their actions, they decide to act. Chandran is beaten up and abandoned in a lonely place. He is saved by Shankar’s daughter Prabha (Ambika). Chandran and Prabha take a liking for each other.
Meanwhile, Lakshmi refuses to believe Chandran when he tells her about her husband’s affair with Vilasini and how he has squandered the assets. Lakshmi even misunderstands her brother. Chandran flees home. The goons engaged by Sreedhar and Shankar push Chandran out of a moving train. News is spread about Chandran’s suicide.
By now Lakshmi loses all her property and the factory. The workers turn against Sreedhar. He is locked inside a room and they set it on fire. Chandran who escapes from the train accident appears on the scene. He rescues Sreedhar, who repents for his misdeeds. Shankar and Vilasini are brought before the law. Chandran marries Prabha.
The songs, some of which became very popular, were written by P. Bhaskaran and set to music by M. B. Sreenivasan. The Chandrante prabhayil … (Kamukara Purushotaman-S. Janaki) was a huge hit.
The other songs that came to be noted were Onnamtharam balloon tharaam … (Lata ), Aaromalaaley karayalley …(P. Leela ), and Asha vasantham anuraga sugandham …(Janaki).
Will be remembered : As the debut film of music director M. B. Sreenivasan and playback singer Lata. For its good music, especially for the immortal duet Chandrante prabhayil …
The social and political plays staged by Kerala Peoples Arts Club, popularly known as KPAC were instant hits. Most of such plays were made into films. Several of these plays were written by Thoppil Bhasi, the renowned playwright.
Mooladhanam written by him and published in 1958 was a hit and successful on the stage too. The play was made into a film with the same name by M. Kassim under the banner of Azeem Company and was released on August 15, 1969. The film was a huge box office hit. The script and dialogues were written by the playwright. Thoppil Bhasi won the State award for the best script. Directed by P. Bhaskaran, the film was shot at Vasu Studios. Cinematography was by P. R. Ramalingam, editing was done jointly by K. Narayanan and K. Sankunny. Music was by G. Devarajan and lyrics by P. Bhaskaran.
A multi-starrer, the film had Sathyan, Prem Nazir, K. P. Ummer, Sharada, Jayabharathi, Ambika in lead roles.
The story is set in the background of Diwan’s rule in the State of Travancore. Ravi (Sathyan) and Mammootty (Prem Nazir) lead the agitation against the Diwan’s rule. The government files cases against them and both of them go underground. The government declares a cash reward for information about them. Ravi seeks refuge in his friend Madhu’s (K. P. Ummer) house. A supporter of the Diwan, Madhu refuses. Ravi entrusts the manuscript of his novel Palungu and asks him to publish it in his pen name Soman.
Mammootty is arrested by the police. Ravi gets a job as a tuition master in the house of a retired magistrate Narayana Pillai (Eddy) and hides there.
Ravi’s house and property are confiscated and the police arrests his wife Sarada (Sarada). Ravi’s children Appu (Master Pramod) and Ammini (Sai Suseela) leave their home and reach Ravi’s hideout. Without revealing her identity Ammini takes up a job in the house. Madhu gets Sarada released from jail. He wants Sarada to live with him but she refuses.
Madhu publishes the novel Palungu in his own name and it wins an award. Fascinated by the novel, Narayana Pillai’s daughter Malathi (Ambika) becomes a fan of Madhu’s and invites him home for a celebration. Ravi and Madhu come face to face. Madhu reveals Ravi’s identity and Ravi is arrested and sent to jail.
The police frames Appu in a false case and arrests him. Sarada has no choice but to live with Madhu in order to rescue Appu. Mammootty’s wife Nabeesa (Jayabharathi) supports Sarada and her children. Ravi and Mammootty are released from jail.
Ravi realises Madhu’s deviousness and how he trapped Sarada. He understands why his faithful wife, Sarada, gave in to Madhu’s demands and they live happily ever after.
Satyan and Sarada excelled in their highly emotional roles. K. P. Ummer’s villainous character was a new experience to the audience. His refrain describing himself as a “ vikaara jeevi ” (a person easily susceptible to desires) gave an entirely different face to his ‘cold blooded’ villain.
Songs written by P. Bhaskaran and composed by Devarajan became timeless hits. “ Swarga Gayike Ithiley Ithiley …“ (Yesudas), “ Ente Veenakambiyellaam …” (Yesudas) and “ Pularanayappol Poonkozhi Kooviappol …” (Suseela) became instant hits. Other hits were “ Oro thulli chorayil ninnum …” (Yesudas, C. O. Anto, Venu and chorus) and “Olichu Pidichu…” (Suseela)
Will be remembered: Winner of the Kerala State Award for the best script in 1969. Excellent music and a good social movie.
November 9, 2012 marked the 100th birth anniversary of Sathyan, one of the most popular and versatile actors of Malayalam cinema who died in 1971. His first released film wasAthmasakhi (1952). But Sathyan faced the camera for the first time in an unreleased filmThyagaseema .
The shooting of this film began in 1951. And it was the acting talent of Sathyan in this film that paved the way for a role in Athmasakhi , which incidentally is his second film.
Sathyanesan Nadar, a police officer, was passionate about acting. He was impressive in some of the amateur stage plays in which he acted. The young police officer now hoped to make it to the world of cinema.
‘Kaumudi’ Balakrishnan, a good orator, writer and leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party was Sathyanesan’s neighbour while he was working in Thiruvananthapuram. Balakrishnan was the son of C. Kesavan, Chief Minister of the erstwhile Travancore-Kochi. The ‘Kaumudi’ publication, of which he was the editor, was very popular those days. Sathyanesan’s initiation into cinema was through the help of Balakrishnan.
K. M. K. Menon, who produced the Malayalam film Chandrika (1950) wanted to produce and direct a film. ‘Kaumudi’ Balakrishnan’s novels like Niramillatha Mazhavillu , Kalayalavu Oru Varsham ,Madhuvidhu Premam etc. were best sellers of that time. He was chosen to write the story, script and dialogues for the film, which was named Thyagaseema .
Sathyanesan shortened his name as Sathyan andmanaged to get permission from the Kerala Police to act in this film. He was assigned the hero’s role.
Prem Nazir, then known by his original name Abdul Khader, also played an important role inThyagaseema . Bharathi, who later married the producer K. M. K. Menon, and Sethulakshmi, who came from Madras, essayed the female roles. The others who acted in this unreleased film were Sree Narayana Pillai, C. I. Parameswaran Pillai, and the renowned novelist G. Vivekanandan who was then working as a compounder in a Government Hospital. Others like N. P. Chellappan Nair, P. K. Vikraman Nair, who later became popular in Malayalam films were also included in the list of actors for this film. However, they could not work in this film as they were Government officials and there were restrictions against them taking up other assignments.
Bharathi was paired with Sathyan. Incidentally, Bharathi’s son Ravikumar, also came up as a hero in the 70s. Dancer Indirabai Thankachi, who was a dance teacher for the Travancore Royal Family, featured in a dance sequence.
P. Bhaskaran who wrote the songs for Chandrika , (Bhaskaran’s debut film), and music director P. S. Divakar were contracted for the music.
Shooting started in a small, tiled house at Sasthamangalam in Thiruvananthapuram. In March 1952 the ministry headed by C. Kesavan fell. The political changes that followed created a lot of problems for Sathyan. The then Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mary Arputham, objected to Sathyan acting in the film. The actor resigned from his job. The other Government officials who had signed for the film also had to withdraw. As a result of such unforeseen contingencies, the producer decided to drop theThyagaseema project.
In 1952 P. Subramaniam established Neela Productions. He happened to see the rushes ofThyagaseema and was impressed by Sathyan’s performance. Subramaniam invited Sathyan to act as hero in his first film Athmasakhi (1952). The film was released in August, 1952 and was a huge hit. There was no looking back for the great actor. No footage of Thyagaseema or the songs, if they were recorded, are available now.
Gurudev’ Rabindranath Tagore’s contribution to Indian literature was immense. Some of his works were filmed in various Indian languages. Bengali cinema drew heavily on Tagore’s stories and music, especially directors like Satyajit Ray, Madhu Bose, Tapan Sinha, Naresh Mitra etc. The bilingual film Nauka Dubi (Bengali)/ Milan
(Hindi) produced by Bombay Talkies in 1947, directed by Nitin Bose, was based on the Bengali novel Nauka Dubi written by Tagore in 1916. Ramanand Sagar’s Hindi film Ghunghat (1960) was remake of the same story and was a hit. In 1968, the same story was filmed in Malayalam asAgnipareeksha and this too turned a hit. In 2011, the story was remade in Bengali as Nauka Dubi . Directed by Rituparno Ghosh, the Hindi version of this film, Kashma Kash and English version, The Boat Wreck , also did well at the box office.
Agnipareeksha was produced by Mohammed Azeem under the banner of Deepak Combines and was directed by M Krishnan Nair. A multi-starrer, the film had Sathyan, Prem Nazir, K. P. Ummer, G. K. Pillai, T. S. Muthiah, Adoor Bhasi, Sarada, Sheela in key roles. The dialogues were by Thoppil Bhasi.
Doctor Mohan (Sathyan) who comes to attend the marriage of his friend Gopalan’s (K. P. Ummer) sister Hemalatha (Sarada) decides to marry the bride after the bridegroom, an epileptic patient, faints on the auspicious occasion. Mohan does this to save his friend’s sister from disgrace. Mohan marries her when Hemalatha is unconscious following the shock of the unexpected incident. Mohan travels back to his home town with his bride.
Ramesh (Prem Nazir), who is in love with Hema (Sheela) is coaxed by his father to marry another girl whom he has never seen. Ramesh marries the girl not even bothering to take a serious look at her. He travels with his wife on the same train in which Mohan and Hemalatha return after their wedding. An accident occurs; several passengers lose their lives and many seriously injured.
Ramesh is hospitalised. When he opens his eyes he sees a girl dressed in bridal attire taking care of him. He assumes this to be the girl whom he had married, when in fact the girl was Hemalatha. To add to the confusion Hemalatha believed that Ramesh was the man who had married her, for when the wedding took place she was unconscious and had not seen his face of the man.
Later Ramesh came to know that Hemalatha was not his wife, but was unable to reveal the fact because he thought the girl may not be able to withstand another emotional shock. Ramesh writes a letter to his lover Hema explaining the story of his marriage and the train accident. Hemalatha happens to read the letter and comes to know that Ramesh is not her husband. She leaves him and reaches a nursing home where she is treated by Mohan though she does not know this. She is appointed as a servant by Mohan, who also does not know that Hemalatha is the girl he had married.
Now the untying of the knots. Hema is admitted to Mohan’s nursing home. Ramesh reaches the nursing home in search of Hema. Gopalan is admitted to Mohan’s newly opened eye hospital for treatment. From Gopalan, Hemalatha comes to know that Mohan is her husband. Hema realises the situation that forced Ramesh into marrying another girl who had died in the train accident. The couples, Hemalatha and Mohan; Ramesh and Hema unite.
The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and tuned by Devarajan, like Kairali Kairali kavya Kairali …, (P. Susheela- B. Vasantha), Muthu vaaraan poyavare …. (K. J. Yesudas), Urangi kidanna hrudayame … (Yesudas) and Thinkalum kathiroliyum …. (Susheela) turned hits.
Will be remembered: As a successful Malayalam adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novel and for its excellent music.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Muttathu Varkey was one of the most famous purveyors of a genre of sentiment-driven pulp fiction known as ‘painkili’ literature in local parlance. This became a staple source for the work of Malayalam film producers and directors like P. Subramaniam, Kunchacko, M. Krishnan Nair, P. A. Thomas and others. Films likePaadatha Painkili (1957), Mariyakutty (1958) etc produced and directed by P Subramaniam were based on the novels of the same title written by Muttathu Varkey. The term ‘painkili’ was coined after the unusual success of the novel PaadathaPainkili and its film version. Kanam E .J. was another Malayalam novelist who promoted the ‘painkili’ writings.
In 1965 Kunchacko produced and directed the family melodrama Inapravukal, based on a novel by the same title under this genre written by Muttathu Varkey. First published in 1953, the novel was a bestseller and was reprinted several times. The film version had unusual success at the box office.
Kunchacko introduced Sarada, Malayalam cinema’s ‘dukha puthri’ (sorrowful daughter) in this film. Her name was included in the title cards as ‘Rahel', the name of the heroine’s character which she essayed. With her impressive performance as a tragic character, she proved her talent in handling such roles in her debut film in Malayalam.
Other popular artistes who acted in the film were Satyan, Prem Nazir, Muthiah, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair, S. P. Pillai, Pankajavalli besides others. The film was shot at Udaya Studios. Muttathu Varkey was known for using the dialect of Christians from different parts of Kerala, and the dialogues forInapravukal were written by him and were an added attraction of the film.
The plot of the film was set in a remote village in Kerala and the story pivoted around three Christian families. The music composed by Dakshinamoorthy was excellent. The film was released a week before Easter in 1965. In this remote village people lived peacefully, loving each other and following the teachings of Bible. The village ferryman Kochappi (Muthiah) and Kuncheria (Kottarakara) are the proverbial ‘good neighbours’ as described in the Bible. Kuncheria is a bullock cart owner and transports goods and passengers to nearby places.
Kochappi’s son Anthony (Satyan) and Kuncheria’s daughter Rahel (Sarada) are childhood sweethearts. Their parents approve of their love wholeheartedly and decide to get them married. Chandy (Thikkurissi), a landlord, is the only rich man in the village. Chandy’s son Rajan (Prem Nazir) returns to the village after completing his higher education abroad. Rajan impresses the villagers by his simplicity and broad-mindedness. Rajan takes a fancy to Rahel and expresses his desire to marry her to his parents. He is unaware of the fact that Rahel’s marriage has been fixed. Chandy is reluctant about the marriage because Rahel’s father is a bullock cart driver. However, he agrees to his beloved son’s wishes. Rahel’s greedy parents conveniently forget their promise to get her married to Anthony. They decide to get her married to Rajan. The thorny fence of separation springs up between the two houses and the minds of the once ‘good neighbours’. Anthony goes to Malabar without telling anybody and gets a job there with the help of his friend Kutty (S. P. Pillai) who had left the village long ago and settled there.
Arrangements for Rahel’s marriage with Rajan progress. Anthony sends a letter to Rahel expressing his sorrow and grief. The poor, miserable girl cannot stand up against her parents’ decision. In the meanwhile Anthony falls grievously ill.
Neglecting his ill health, Anthony travels back to his village where he breathes his last upon reaching there. As his funeral procession heads to the graveyard, Rahel’s marriage is being solemnised. Suddenly Rahel, unable to bear her grief, faints. A few days later Rahel dies.
Her body is also buried in the same graveyard near Anthony’s tomb. The ‘inapravukal’ (couple of doves) who were unable to unite in this greedy and cruel world, unite in death. Their souls unite in the other world. A sad end to a highly emotional family drama. As heroine, Sarada excelled in her performance. As tragic hero Satyan, and as the romantic young man Prem Nazir also impressed the audience.
Songs written by Vayalar and tuned by Dakshinamoorthy became hits. The instant hits were Kaakka Thampuratty …….(Yesudas), Akkarakkundo Akkarakkundo …… (A.M Raja), Kuruthola Perunnalinu …..
(Yesudas, Suseela), Virinjathenthinu Virinjathenthinu ….(Suseela) and Ithiripoovalan Annarkanna ….. (Leela & chorus). Other hits include Karivala Karivala Kuppivala …..(P.B. Sreenivas, Leela), Pathu Para Vithu …..(C. O. Anto, A. M. Raja, L. R. Easwari chorus).
Will be remembered : Debut Malayalam film of Sarada and excellent music.
According to the records available, around 1,330 silent films were produced in India between 1912 and 1934. But only a handful of them exist now. Only two silent films were produced in Malayalam. These films had scripts and the artistes even delivered dialogues. Important dialogues were shown as inter-titles in respective languages.
Vigathakumaran (1928) and Marthanda Varma (1931) were the two silent films produced in Malayalam.
Marthanda Varma was based on the Malayalam novel of the same title written by C.V. Raman Pillai and first published in 1891. The novel effectively launched the prose tradition in the language. It was first of a series by the author (followed by Dharmaraja: 1913, Ramaraja Bahadur: 1920) dealing with Travancore’s royalty.
The novel recounts the adventures of Marthanda Varma (1706-1758), the crown prince of the State of Travancore; on how he eliminates his rivals one after one, to ascend to the throne of Travancore.
The film was produced by R Sunder Raj under the banner of Sree Rajeswari Films. The director P. V. Rao wrote the script and dialogues. It was shot at locations in Trivandrum, Nagercoil etc.
Amateur artistes, along with actors and actresses from the stage, acted in the film. Jayadevan (real name Andy) A. V. P. Menon, A.P. Krishna Menon, Sunderraj, Devaki Bai, Padmini (real name Pattammal) etc. were the artistes cast in the important roles.
The producer of the film failed to obtain the film rights of the novel which remained with the Kamalalayam Book Depot, the publishers. The film was completed in 1931. Consequently, Kamalalayam Book Depot took possession of the print on the strength of a court order. The film was released only after the trial of the case and by then ‘talkie films’ or sound films were in vogue.
According to details available, the film was released on May 12, 1933. Marthanda Varma was a disaster at the box office and the producer became bankrupt. The Indian Copy Right Act, the first legislation of its kind, was passed in 1914.
According to available records, the case related to this film was the first of its kind in Indian Cinema. No footage of Vigathakumaran, the first feature film (silent) is available now.
The print of Marthanda Varma was also missing for a long time. In 1974, a print was located in an abandoned room in Xaviers Lodge (near the Secretariat; opposite YMCA, Trivandrum) and taken over by National Film Archives of India. Once, this building was the main office of Kamalalayam Book Depot.
The length of the original print was 11,905 feet. A part of the available print was damaged and the salvaged copy is of 7,915 feet.
The story pivots round the royal family of Travancore. The power struggle between Marthanda Varma (Jayadevan) and the Ettuveettil Pillamar, the Nair feudal lords who tried to assassinate the would-be king of Travancore, forms the main plot. According to the matriarchal tradition followed in the State, Marthanda Varma was the legal heir to the throne. But the king’s sons, with the support of the Ettuveettil Pillamar laid several traps and attempted to assassinate Marthanda Varma. A brave warrior Ananthapadmanabhan (A. V. P. Menon) protects and saves Marthanda Varma from the enemies on several occasions. The love between Parukutty (Padmini) and Ananthapadmanabhan provides the romantic thread. Ananthapadmanabhan’s sister Subhadra (Devaki Bai) supports Marthanda Varma by bringing to his notice secret plans of his enemies to assassinate him. Marthanda Varma comes to the reign suppressing all his enemies.
The film opens with a footage of the famous Aaraattu festival procession of the Travancore Maharaja Chitra Tirunal before moving to the story of his ancestor Marthanda Varma. Scenes from Marthanda Varma’s youth are intercut with episodes from the novel. The Malayalam inter-titles, taken from the novel, are translated into English.
Will be remembered: As the second feature film (silent) in Malayalam, as the first Malayalam film based on a novel and because it is the earliest Malayalam feature film now available.