Monday, June 14, 2010

Nithyakanyaka (1963)

Sathyan, Ragini, Ambika, Kottarakkara, Thikkurissi, S. P. Pillai, Bahadur, Kambissery Karunakaran, Adoor Pankajam etc.

POPULAR SOCIAL MOVIECover of the ‘Nithyakanyaka' song book

The 100th Malayalam film, ‘Nithyakanyaka was released on February 22, 1963. The social movie was remake of the successful Tamil film ‘Ethirparathathu' (1954) produced by A. K. Balasubramaniam who also produced the Malayalam remake under the same banner ‘Sharavanabhava & Unity Pictures'. Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini and V. Nagaiah played the main roles in the Tamil film. The film was based on a story authored by C. V. Sreedhar who later went on to become a successful producer-director.

‘Nithyakanyaka' was probably the last in the series of films made on the same story. In 1956, the renowned director Yoganand came up with the Telugu version ‘Ilavelpu' with Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi in lead roles. In 1957 the legendary producer-director L .V. Prasad made a Hindi version titled ‘Sharada' with Raj Kapoor and Meena Kumari cast in the main roles. The success of the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi versions must have prompted the producer to make a Malayalam version. When compared to the other language versions, ‘Nithyakanyaka' was only a moderate hit.

The renowned Malayalam novelist Ponkunnam Varkey wrote the dialogues for ‘Nithyakanyaka'. The film was frame-by-frame copy of the ‘Ethirparathathu'. The dialogues were impressive. P. Ramaswamy, who handled the camera for the Tamil film, also worked in the Malayalam film. In fact, it was his Malayalam debut.

Sathyan and Ragini played the lead roles in the film. Other popular stars of the time, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Ambika, S. P. Pillai handled other important roles. This was the third directorial venture of the prolific Malayalam director K. S. Sethumadhavan; he had directed ‘Gnanasundari,' and ‘Kannum Karalum' before this. The music composed by G. Devarajan was the highpoint of the film.

Appu Menon (Kambissery Karunakaran), a primary school headmaster brings up his children Suku (Kottarakkara) and Lata (Ragini) amidst utter poverty. Suku becomes an advocate and weds his college mate Nalini (Ambika). Soon after the marriage, Suku leaves home with his wife and settles down separately leaving Appu Menon and Lata in penury. Appu Menon's dreams of a bright future for the family with the support of his son Suku crash.

Ravi (Sathyan), the only son of the rich landlord Vasu Kurup (Thikkurissi) stays in a portion of Appu Menon's house. Ravi is an engineering student in a nearby college. Ravi and Lata fall in love. Ravi promises Lata that he would approach her father with the marriage proposal once he completes his studies.

Meanwhile, Ravi gets a scholarship for higher studies abroad and leaves. News arrives that Ravi dies in an air crash. But the truth is that he is saved by some tribes from the scene of the crash. But Ravi loses his eyesight in the accident. Everyone back home believe that Ravi is dead.

A spendthrift, Suku borrows money from financiers. He also gets into bad company and indulges in heavy gambling. This leaves him in huge debt. Fearing action from the creditors he is forced to leave home. Nalini seeks refuge at Appu Menon's house. The death of Ravi leaves his father Vasu Kurup heartbroken. His friends and relatives ask him to marry and he agrees. Plans are afoot to marry him to Lata, who does not know that Vasu Kurup is Ravi's father. Both of them come to know of this only on the first night of their marriage. They decide to remain husband and wife only in the yes of the society, without any kind of physical relationship.

Unable to face the awkward situation Vasu Kurup goes on a pilgrimage. He finds his son Ravi in the holy town of Varanasi. Vasu Kurup brings his son home. Ravi undergoes a surgery and regains his eye sight. He is shocked when he finds that his stepmother is none other than his lover Lata. Kurup suffers a heart attack and dies.

Lata considers that she is a widow and refuses to marry Ravi, who is now her stepson. Suku, Nalini and other friends try hard to force Ravi and Lata into marriage. Ravi is troubled, while Lata decides to remain a ‘Nithyakanyaka,' a virgin for the rest of her life.

Sathyan, Ragini, Thikkurissi and others essayed their roles impressively. But the comedy scenes involving S. P. Pillai, Bahadur and Adoor Pankajam did not jell with the emotionally charged mood of the film.

The music was excellent. The seven songs in the film written by Vayalar Rama Varma were tuned by G. Devarajan. The memorable song ‘Kannuneer muthumaai...' was sung by K. J. Yesudas as well as P. Susheela separately. The one by Yesudas is considered one of the best this gifted singer has rendered.

The devotional number ‘Krishna Krishna Guruvayoorappa...' was pictured with some famous temples in the background.

The song tuned as a Ragamalaika, or a cluster of ragas, that included popular Ragas like Kaapi, Begada, Mohanam and Sindhu Bhairavi was another popular hit.

‘Enthenthu mohangal aayirunnu...' (Susheela-Yesudas), ‘Marakkumo enne marakkumo...' (Yesudas- Susheela) and the comedy number ‘Kayyil ninne kittiyal oru...' by Pattam Sadan were the other hits from the film.

Will be remembered: As the 100th Malayalam film. For the excellent music, particularly for the unforgettable Yesudas number ‘Kannuneer muthumaai...'

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