Saturday, February 14, 2009

Paadaatha Painkili (1957)

Cast: Prem Nazir, T. S. Muthiah, Kottarakkara, Miss Kumari, Shanti, S. P. Pillai, Bahadur, Aranmula Ponnamma etc.

SENTIMENTAL HIT Miss Kumari in a scene from the film

‘Paadaatha Painkili’ was the first film based on a novel by Muttathu Varkey. The genre of mushy fiction which he popularised was a major influence on Malayalam screen socials. More than 25 novels of Muttathu Varkey were turned into films like ‘Jailpully’, ‘Mariakutty’, ‘Poothali’ etc.

The sentimental middle class pulp fiction became a staple source for the work of some of the producers/directors of Malayalam cinema like P. Subramaniam, Kunchacko etc.

‘Paadaatha Painkili’, revolves around marriage and dowry problems. The film was a major success. Although there had been some films with a ‘contemporary setting’, this was one of Malayalam cinema’s first reformist socials with the script and dialogues penned by the novelist himself. The emotional turmoil in the novel was scripted impressively using sharp dialogues. Further, the film dispensed with boring comic scenes which were usual in commercial films.

Super stars of the time, Prem Nazir, Miss Kumari, Kottarakkara added star value to the film. Shanthi, one of the glamour girls of the 50s and 60s made her Malayalam debut in this film. The comic sequences presented by S. P. Pillai and Adoor Pankajam were sober and restrained. Deviating from the usual manner of mockery and punning on words, S. P. Pillai as Mylan and Adoor Pankajam as Thevi, impressed in their roles as innocent, loving villagers who spread the message of love.

Thankachan (Prem Nazir), the only son of the rich landlady Kunjadamma (Aranmula Ponnamma) is in love with Chinnamma (Miss Kumari), the daughter of a poor school teacher Luka (T. S. Muthiah). Lucy (Shanthi), the daughter of a millionaire Vendor Kutty (Kottarakkara) is also in love with Thankachan. The marriage broker Peeli (Vaanakkutti) and Vendor Kutty play all nasty tricks to break the relationship between Thankachan and Chinnamma.

The story moves through several twists and turns. Thankachan’s marriage with Lucy is finalised. On the same day Chinnamma is to marry Chakkara Vakkan (Bahadur), a poor worker in a beedi factory. But this marriage does not take place as Chinnamma is not able to get the fixed dowry amount. The problems are resolved by Lucy who decides to become a nun. The film ends with the wedding of Chinnamma and Thankachan.

There were nine songs in the film penned by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair and set to tune by Brother Lakshmanan. Some of the songs became hits. The romantic duet sung by Kamukara Purushotaman and Santha P. Nair ‘Madhumasamaayallo...’ still remains a favourite. A comic song sung by Gangadharan Nair and C. S. Radhadevi, ‘Thanthoya thenundu ...’ picturised on S. P. Pillai and Adoor Pankajam was also a hit. The other popular songs include ‘Njaan natta thoomulla...’ (Santha P. Nair ) and ‘Snehame karayatta ninte....’ (Kamukara).

Will be remembered: This film will be remembered as the first film based on a novel by Muttathu Varkey. As the debut film of actress Shanthi and also one of the most successful films that focussed on the evils of dowry.