|M. G. Ramachandran, B. S. Saroja, M .G. Chakrapani, Alleppey Vincent, T. S. Durairaj etc.|
CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONALB. S. Saroja and M. G. Ramachandran in a scene from ‘Genova'
Released in 1953, this film was scheduled as an Easter release. But it finally hit the theatres 13 days after Easter. Despite the late release ‘Genova' was a huge hit. ‘Genova' was an adaptation of a musical opera (sangeeta natakam) that was staged in Kerala by prominent drama troupes under the titles ‘Genova' and ‘Genova Parvam'. Authored by one of the doyens of the Malayalam musical operas, T. C. Achutha Menon, this musical drama became very popular. The success of this drama and a Tamil film with a similar theme ‘Gnanasoundari' (1948) might have prompted the producer-director F. Nagoor to make this film. The story is a mix of myth and history. It had scenes about the glory of Mother Mary, the kind mother who descends to Earth in order to save her devotees etc. The film was remade in Tamil and this version was released two months after the Malayalam release. All the main roles in both the languages were performed by same artistes, except for the villain role enacted by Alleppey Vincent, which was done by P. S. Veerappa in the Tamil version. The presence of MGR, B. S. Saroja, M. G. Chakrapani, T. S. Durairaj and others added star value.
The dialogues of the Malayalam version were authored by the noted writer of musical operas, Swami Brahmavrathan. He also wrote the lyrics along with Peethambaram. The story, dialogues and even the comedy scenes of the film were exact copies of the successful musical opera ‘Genova.' Produced jointly by Eapen and F. Nagoor under the banner of ‘Chandra Pictures' the film was shot at Newton Studios, Madras. The film introduced MGR, the super star of Tamil cinema to Malayalam. And ‘Genova' remains the only Malayalam film in which he acted. Music director M. S. Viswanathan, actor M. G. Chakrapani, lyricist and dialogue writer Swami Brahmavrathan, lyricist Peethambaram, and director F. Nagoor also made their Malayalam cinema debut in this film. The veteran actor of early Malayalam cinema and one of the pioneers of musical operas, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar dubbed for MGR. Probably, this was the first instance in Malayalam cinema where the voice of an actor was dubbed.
Cipresso (MGR), the brave king of Ardreena, weds princess Genova (B. S. Saroja). Soon after the wedding the king starts an expedition to the borders to suppress the enemies from the neighbouring kingdoms. Genova could not convey to the king the happy news that she is pregnant at the time when the king left for the war. Minister Golo's (Alleppey Vincent) wicked eyes are on Genova and making use of the situation he tries to molest her. The queen's faithful servant Garthoos intervenes and saves her. The minister manipulates the situation and the blame is put on the servant. Genova and Garthoos are imprisoned by the minister. Genova gives birth to a baby boy in the prison.
When Cipresso returns to the palace after a victorious war, Golo turns him against the queen framing the false charges against her. Cipresso believes Golo. Garthoos is sentenced to death and Genova is banished from the kingdom. In the forest, Mother Mary appears before Genova and blesses her. Genova leads the life of a saint. Golo plots to dethrone the king. He spreads the rumour that the king is insane and that the kingdom is in trouble. Cipresso is imprisoned and Golo takes over the reins of the kingdom. The army chief, Annas (M. G. Chakrapani) also lays hatches a plot to grab power. A few faithful servants of Cipresso free their king from the prison. Cipresso and his men attack Golo and in the ensuing fight Annas is killed and Golo escapes. Cipresso also comes to know that the queen is innocent.
Cipresso goes on a search for Genova. In the forest, Golo and his men attack Cipresso. In the ensuing sword fight Golo is killed and the wounded Cipresso falls down. The young prince, Genova's son, finds Cipresso and takes him to Genova's abode. All the misunderstandings are cleared, the king and queen are reunited.
MGR and B. S. Saroja excelled in their roles. Both Alleppey Vincent and M. G. Chakrapani impressed in their villainous roles.
The 11 songs penned by Swami Brahmavrathan and Peethambaram were composed by M. S. Gnanamani, T. A. Kalyanam and M. S. Viswanathan. Some of songs became hits, especially the duets sung by A. M. Raja and P. Leela, ‘Kanninnu punyamekum divya...' and ‘Leela lolithame ikkanum...' Other hits include the lullaby ‘Omaney en anandakkambe...' and the devotional ‘Gathi nee devamatha...', both sung by Leela.
Will be remembered: As the one and only Malayalam film in which MGR acted. As the debut Malayalam film of actor M. G. Chakrapani, music director M. S. Viswanathan, lyricist and dialogues writer Swami Brahmavrathan, lyricist Pethambaram, and director F. Nagoor.