Monday, February 17, 2014

Manassakshi (1954)

Prem Nazir, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Jose Prakash, P.A. Thomas, S.P. Pillai, Rajasulochana, T. R. Omana, etc

Most of the social movies of the 1950s had unusual twists and turns. Malayalam film producers and directors also followed this trend that was popular in the Tamil and Telugu films of the day. Manasakshi , released on August 20, 1954, was a compilation of sequences from such social films. Produced by Akhileshwar under the banner of Ishwar Productions, the story was developed by the ‘story department’ of the production company. Dr. P.S. Nair and actor- lyricist-writer Vaanakkutti (real name Raman Pillai) wrote the dialogues for the film. Directed by G. Vishwanath, the film was shot at Central Studios, Coimbatore. The story of Ammaye Kaanaan (1963) closely resembled this film.
Cinematography was by K.Gopal, editing by the director himself, and music by a new composer SGK Pillai, but the songs were imitations of popular Hindi tunes.
Prem Nazir, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, P. A. Thomas, S.P. Pillai, played significant roles in the film. Popular Tamil actress and dancer Rajasulochana was introduced to Malayalam cinema in this film. This was also the debut Malayalam film of playback singer T.R. Gajalakshmi.
Nanu Panicker (Pallom Joseph) who worked in an estate in Ooty entrusted his savings to his brother Pachu Panicker (P.A. Thomas) a document writer in his native village. Pachu Panicker swindled this money forcing Nanu Panicker to work as a ferryman for his livelihood. Lakshmi (Rajasulochana), the only daughter of Nanu Panicker, falls in love with Soman (Prem Nazir), whose father Sreedharan Kartha (Jose Prakash) was indebted to Pachu Panicker. Pachu Panicker wanted to marry his daughter Sarala (T.R. Omana) to Soman.
Soman gets selected for Civil Service and leaves for Delhi. Lakshmi becomes pregnant and out of shame, Nanu Panicker attempts suicide. He is arrested and sent to jail. Lakshmi joins an arts troupe ‘Kalalayam,’ owned by Kuttan Pillai (S.P. Pillai) of which Rajasekharan (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair) is a member.
The arts troupe produces a film with Lakshmi as the heroine. Lakshmi becomes a popular actress and adopts the screen name Madhuri. She gives birth to a son, but the baby is sent to an orphanage by Kuttan Pillai who does this without Lakshmi’s knowledge.
Pachu Panicker’s daughter Sarala who is a teacher in the orphanage school brings up Lakshmi’s child without knowing the truth. Sreedharan Kartha calls Soman back intending to unite him with Lakshmi. But they could not find her. Soman is appointed as magistrate. Pachu Panicker decides to file a suit against Kartha to recover his dues. Sarala hides the debt document given by Kartha and Pachu Panicker fails to file the complaint. In desperation, Pachu Panicker attempts to murder Kartha and is arrested.
Rajasekharan attempts to molest Lakshmi and in the ensuing scuffle he is stabbed to death. Lakshmi is arrested for murder. The case comes before Soman. He recognises Lakshmi and refers the case to the Sessions Court.
Soman resigns as magistrate and appears in the Sessions Court to defend Lakshmi. He is able to prove that the killing was in self-defence. Soman, Lakshmi and their lost child reunite.
Prem Nazir and Rajasulochana impressed and formed a popular romantic screen pair. They became a hit pair in Tamil films right from Prem Nazir’s first Tamil film Thai Piranthaal Vazhi Pirakkum .
Ten songs written by Abhayadev were set to tune by SGK Pillai. Enthinaay virinjidam …(T.R. Gajalakshmi), though a direct copy of the C. Ramachandra composition Ye zindagi usee ki hai ….(Lata Mangeshkar) in the Hindi film Anarkali (1953), and the folk number Neeli penne Neeli penne …(Jose Prakash-Thomas Pallom) became hits. The other popular songs from the film were Maala korkoo Radhey …, Pooja cheyvoo njaan sada …(both duets by LPR Varma-Gajalakshmi) and Pratheekshakal naale niravedidaam … (Varma).
Will be remembered : As the debut Malayalam film of Rajasulochana, singer T.R. Gajalakshmi, and as composer SGK Pillai’s first film.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Swapnam (1973)

Nandita Bose and Sudheer in a scene from the film.
Special ArrangementNandita Bose and Sudheer in a scene from the film.

Madhu, Sudheer, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Jose Prakash, Bahadur, Aryad Gopalakrishnan, Nandita Bose, Rani Chandra, Aranmula Ponnamma, T.P.Radhamani etc.

The romantic novel Swapnam, was serialised in a Malayalam weekly before it was published in 1967. It was a best seller. This novel was turned into a film by Sivan under the banner of Saritha Films. Directed by Babu Nanthencode, the film was noted for its brilliant cinematography by Ashok Kumar. Released on August 3, 1973, the film failed at the box office.
The story pivots around the heroine for whom poetry is a strong passion. A slow moving film, it was against the 1970s trend. Ramu Kariat’s Abhayam (1970), based on Perumbadavam Sreedharan’s novel of the same title also pivoted on a similar heroine. This film too failed at the box office. The trend favoured fast moving romantic stories, action-packed thrillers and social stories.
The highpoint of Swapnam was its mellifluous music by Salil Choudhary. The film introduced the Bengali actress Nandita Bose to Malayalam cinema.
A leading building contractor and businessman Viswanathan (Madhu) brings home Gowri (Nandita Bose) whom he met on the road one night on his way back home after a business tour. Viswanathan’s mother (Aranmula Ponnamma) was leading a silent and gloomy life after the death of her husband. Gowri’s arrival brings some cheer into her life.
Soon rumours run rife about Gowri and Viswanathan. Gopi (Jose Prakash), Viswanathan’s brother protests against having Gowri in the house. But Viswanathan ignores all this. Gradually, he withdrew from a decadent past. He proposes marriage to Gowri but she refuses.
Viswanathan’s cousin Vasumathi (Rani Chandra) was Gowri’s college mate. She knew a lot about Gowri’s past. Gowri was in love with Bindu (Sudheer), a young poet who visited her college as a chief guest for a function. Gowri was madly in love with Bindu’s poems and both of them wished to marry. But her father (Kottarakkara) disapproved of this match as he wanted to marry his daughter to a wealthy man. Bindu leaves the city and promises to return rich.
Gowri’s father dies before she could complete her college education. Her brother (Aryad Gopalakrishnan) who was away from home for a long time returns and takes charge of the household. His wife wishes to marry Gowri to her brother (Balan K. Nair), who serves in the Army and is now at home on leave. Gowri refuses this proposal.
One night Gowri escapes from the advances of this man, runs and stands in the middle of the road. This is whan she happens to meet Viswanathan. Gowri continues to wait for Bindu to come back.
Viswanathan completes the construction of a palatial building. The owner of this building is none other than Bindu. Gowri meets Bindu. But she is disappointed to find that Bindu has abandoned poetry and is only after money now. She rejects him. Bindu commits suicide. Gowri leaves the palatial house that Bindu built for her. Viswanathan follows her in his car, picks up her from the road, and takes her home.
Nandita Bose impressed with her charming looks and fine acting. Bahadur and T.P. Radhamani provided moments of laughter.
Five songs written by ONV Kurup and composed by Salil Choudhary became super hits. This was Vani Jayaram’s first Malayalam film. Nee varoo kavya devathey…, Maane maane vili kelkoo… (both by K.J. Yesudas), Shaarike en shaarike…, Mazhavilkodi kaavadi….(both by S. Janaki) and Soura yoothathil vidarnoru… (Vani Jayaram) remain fresh and charming even today.
Will be remembered: As the debut Malayalam film of Nandita Bose and Vani Jayaram. And for its excellent music.