Monday, January 25, 2010

Kaalam Maarunnu (1955)

Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Sathyan, K. S. George, Kambissery Karunakaran, KPAC Sulochana etc.

MUSICALLY RELEVANTKaviyoor Revamma in a song sequence from the film

‘Kaalam Maarunnu,' introduced to Malayalam cinema music director G. Devarajan and lyricist O. N. V. Kurup. The film also introduced several stage actors like KPAC Sulochana, K. S. George, O. Madhavan, Kambissery Karunakaran, and Sree Narayana Pillai.

Most of the early Malayalam films are remembered today for its rich music. ‘Kaalam Maarunnu' is one among them. Interestingly, true to the title, which when translated means ‘times are changing,' brought a refreshing change to Malayalam film music with the introduction of ONV-Devarajan.

There are numerous instances in Indian cinema when a film became a hit because of its excellent music. But ‘Kaalam Maarunnu,' despite excellent music failed probably because of a weak story line.

The story revolved around Kunju Pillai (Kambissery Karunakaran), well respected by the villagers, his son Balan (Sathyan) and his lady love Santha (KPAC Sulochana). The wicked landlord Shekhar (Thikkurissi) has an eye for Santha. Balan weds Santha and this turns Shekhar's ire towards Balan.

Balan gets elected as secretary of the local temple festival committee. This happens after the villagers expel Bhasi (Sree Narayana Pillai) from the post. This creates a wedge between Bhasi and Balan. Taking advantage of the situation, Shekhar joins with Bhasi to harm Balan. Amidst the festival celebrations, Balan is murdered by Shekhar's men. The blame is put on Thevan (O.Madhavan), Balan's friend.

Shekhar and Bhasi offer support to Balan's widow. But Kunju Pillai is suspicious of their motives. Badly beaten by Kunju Pillai for his behaviour, Bhasi spreads scandals about Santha. Shekhar supports Bhasi in all his deeds. Kunju Pillai and Santha, who is pregnant flee the village.

On the way Kunju Pillai saves Shekhar's son from the river and takes himalong. Santha gives birth to a baby girl. Shekhar's son, now named Ramu (Master Mohan) and Santha's daughter Sarala (Kumari Leela) grow up together.

Shekhar and his wife Sharada (Pankajavalli) believe that their son was drowned. Sharada who was always against the cruel deeds of her husband now turns mad due to the loss of her son. Ramu grows up as an upright man who fights against injustice. One day Kunju Pillai punishes Ramu for quarelling with a boy in the neighbourhood. Humiliated, Ramu leaves home and wanders the streets of a nearby city.

Sharada comes to know about her husband's immoral relation with Bhasi's wife Komalam (Chandni). The family life of both Shekhar and Bhasi is in mess now. Kunju Pillai reaches the city in search of Ramu, and finds him hospitalised after having been beaten up for stealing food from Shekhar's house.

Then comes the reconciliation. Kunju Pillai reveals the fact that Ramu is none other than Shekhar's lost child. All misunderstandings are cleared. Shekhar repents. The enmity between Shekhar and Kunju Pillai end and become good friends.

There were nine songs in the film. Two songs penned by Thirunainar Kurichi Madhavan Nair were composed by Brother Lakshmanan. The other songs were by ONV-Devarajan team. All the songs became instant hits. The romantic duet they made, ‘Aa malar poykayil …' sung by K. S. George and Sulochana was the pick of the songs. The children's song, again by ONV-Devarajan, ‘Ambili mutthachan picha nadathunna...' (Lalitha Thampi) was another big hit. In fact, the singer is remembered today for this song. The two songs by Thirunainarkurichi and Brother Lakshmanan, ‘Marayathe vilasavoo...' and ‘Painkiliye vaa vaa panchara...,' both sung by Kaviyoor Revamma, were hits. The singer also appeared in the former song sequence. Other hit songs include ‘Povano povano...'(Kamukara, George and chorus) and ‘Aelayile Punjavayal...' (Kamukara, Santha P. Nair, chorus).

Will be remembered: As the debut film of G. Devarajan and O. N. V. Kurup, the first film of singers K. S. George, Lalitha Thampi, Jayan-Vijayan (they sang in the chorus). It will be remembered as the first film of KPAC Sulochana, Kambissery Karunakaran, Sree Narayana Pillai, O. Madhavan and Sudharma. And, of course, for the excellent music.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Aabhijathyam (1971)

Madhu, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Adoor Bhasi, Veeran, S. P. Pillai, Sharada, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Sukumari, Junior Sheela etc.

FAMILY DRAMAFrom left, Sharada, Junior Sheela, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Thikkurissi, and Madhu in a scene from the film

Aabhijatyam' is considered one of the best family dramas in Malayalam cinema. The film was an adaptation of Anant Mane's Marathi film ‘Manini' (1961) which bagged the President's Silver Medal for best regional film in 1961. The film was based on a story penned by the noted Marathi writer Mahadev Shastri Joshi.

The Malayalam adaptation was a huge hit. The same story was remade in Tamil by S. P. Muthuraman as ‘Petta Manam Pitthu' (1973) and in Gujarati as ‘Maa Dikri' (1977) by Krishnakant.

The Malayalam version of this urban melodrama with stagey overtones outshone the other language versions in terms of box office success.

Dialogues penned by Thoppil Bhasi were excellent and the film, in spite of its high melodrama, was hailed as a realistic family story. Editing by Venkatraman and camera work by Suryaprakash gave the film a huge technical edge. The film is considered as one of the best directorial ventures of A.Vincent. The film was shot at AVM Studios. Dances choreographed by Madhavan and the lovely melodies tuned by A. T. Ummer were the other highpoints of the film.

The film relocated a neo-traditional value system into the emerging urban middle class. The Malayalam remake, true to its original in Marathi, followed the storyline very closely and even retained the names of the hero and heroine, Madhavan and Malathi (Madhav and Malathi in Marathi). The highly emotional scenes in the Malayalam version were exact copies of the Marathi film.

Malathi (Sharada) is the daughter of a wealthy landlord, Sankara Menon (Thikkurissi) and Janaki Amma (Kaviyoor Ponnamma). Recommended by a friend of Menon, a poor student Madhavan (Madhu) seeks accommodation in Menon's house. Madhavan is studying music at the Sangeet Academy in the town. Madhavan and Malathi are drawn to each other.

Madhavan teaches music to Malathi. After completing his studies, Madhavan decides to go back to his village. Malathi pleads to Madhavan to accept her as his life mate. But Madhavan, loyal to Menon by whose generosity he was able to complete his studies, refuses to accept Malathi's proposal though he actually loves her.

Suspicion springs up in the mind of Janaki Amma about the relation between Malathi and Madhavan. When questioned Malathi remains silent leading Janaki Amma to think that Malathi is pregnant. This situation leads to the marriage of Malathi and Madhavan. Menon rejects the couple and Madhavan returns to his village with Malathi.

Supported by the kind villagers, Madhavan and Malathi manage to make a living in the village.

Menon tries to force Malathi to abandon her husband. But Malathi refuses. Malathi and Madhavan come to attend the wedding of Sumam (Junior Sheela), Menon's youngest daughter. Undesirable situations develop. Madhavan and Malathi are accused of theft and are publicly humiliated. Menon's eldest daughter Sreedevi (Sukumari) and her husband Barrister Pillai (Veeran) also join sides with Menon in this cruel drama. Malathi eventually breaks away from her oppressive feudal family.

Janaki Amma falls ill and pleads to Menon to bring home Malathi, but Menon refuses. Janaki Amma dies broken hearted. A miracle takes place. Janaki Amma visits Malathi's house in the village and consoles her. The next day her father informs her of the death of Janaki Amma. It is then that Malathi realises that that her mother's spirit had visited her before her death. This tear jerking ending was impressive. This highly emotional ending echoes the climax of the Japanese film ‘Ugetsu Monogatari' (1953) directed by Kenji Mizoguchi which was titled in English as ‘Tales of Moonlight and Rain'.

Kaviyoor Ponnamma and Sharada excelled in their highly emotion-charged roles. Sharada, who was noted for her tear-jerking performances, once again proved her mettle in handling such roles. Madhu also did justice to his role. The hilarious comedy track involving Adoor Bhasi, S. P. Pillai and others provided the much needed comic relief.

There were six songs penned by P.Bhaskaran. The music was by A. T. Ummer with orchestration by R. K. Shekhar. All the songs turned hits. The romantic duets, ‘Raasaleelakku vaikyathenthu nee...' (Yesudas-Vasantha), and ‘Vrischika rathrithan ....' (Yesudas-P. Susheela) are two of the best in the genre. The devotional number by S. Janaki ‘Mazhamukil olivarnan Gopalakrishnan...' ranks among the best devotionals in the language. The comedy number ‘Thallu thallu thallu thallu thallippoli vandi...' by Adoor Bhasi and Sreelatha was a super hit. The other beautiful melodies include ‘Chempaka poonkavanathile...' (Yesudas), and the lullaby ‘Kalyana kuruvikku…' sung by P. Leela.

Will be remembered: As one of the best family dramas made in Malayalam cinema, which also did very well at the box office also. It will also be remembered for its excellent music.