Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nakhangal (1973)

Socio-political story: A scene from the film

Nakhangal released on September 8, 1973, was an unusual film that told the story of an owner of a tea estate who believes in the ideals of a political party that fights for the rights of the workers, because she was a labourer-turned-estate owner.

Produced by Hari Pothen under the banner of “Supriya Films” and based on the novel of same title written by Vaikom Chandrasekharan Nair, the colour film was shot at Satya and Prasad Studios. The outdoor location of the film was tea estates in Kerala. The story pivots around two murder cases.

The success of the film is attributed to the scriptwriter Thoppil Bhasi and director A.Vincent. Some critics feel that the film was not as impressive as the novel.

Saraswathi (K. R. Vijaya), an inmate of an orphanage who believes in the ideals of a political party that fights for the rights of the working class is married to Mathew, an estate owner. The story of the film starts five days after the brutal murder of Mathew. A young graduate, Sankarankutty (Madhu) is appointed by Saraswathi Mathew as the Manager of the estate following the death of her husband. The past life of the important characters is narrated by powerful dialogues, rather than in usual visual “flashbacks” . A young leader of the estate workers, Yesudas (Raghavan), an estate worker Muthappan (C. A. Balan) and Saraswathi Mathew are the prime suspects in the case. Later, Muthappan is also murdered. Police frame false charges against Saraswathi Mathew . The local police was twisting the murder case in favour of real culprits, the estate owners Ramunni Menon (Veeran), John Sebastian ( Paravoor Bharathan ) and their group who murdered Mathew by mixing poison in the coffee served to him through Mathew’s servant Pankiyamma (T. R. Omana). They murdered Muthappan also who witnessed Mathew’s murder. Sankarankutty succeeds in unfolding the mysteries behind the murder of Mathew and Muthappan and saves Saraswathi Mathew from the false charges.

Sankarankutty’s lover Gomathi (Jayabharathi) and Yesudas are children of the party worker Achuthan Nair (Sankaradi) who were brought up in their childhood by Saraswathi when they were admitted to the orphanage following the death of their mother. Later Gomathi was brought up by a party worker Pappunni (S. P. Pillai). Ramunni Menon and his group is arrested by the crime branch. The film ends with a message – the real owners of the estates are the “workers” who built up the estates with their hard work. Saraswathi Mathew hands over the estate to the Union of the workers and leaves to the orphanage from where she came. But the local bureaucratic estate owners who were against his” pro workers policy” murdered him.

K. R. Vijay's was an impressive performance. The film dispensed with usual hilarious comedy scenes. The guest roles of Kaviyoor Ponnamma as Mathew’s concubine Kakkachi, Meena as Mathew’s sister Annamma , KPAC Lalitha as the illicit liquor vendor Maya, K.P. Ummer as Saraswathi Mathew’s brother etc were memorable.

All the songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to tune by Devarajan became hits. Instant hits were “Krishnapakshakkili chilachu….” (Yesudas, humming by Madhuri), “Gandharva Nagarangal….” (Madhuri) , and “Pushpamangalayam….” ( Yesudas) . Other hits include “ Nakshathrangale Sakshi….” (Yesudas, chorus) and “Maathaavey Maathaavey….” (Suseela) .

Why remembered:

As a good social film with a moral

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