SUCCESSFUL STAGE ADAPTATION - From left, Ambika, Sathyan and Miss Kumari in a scene from the film
Released on December 22, 1961, ‘Mudiyanaya Puthran' was the first professional drama from a series of successful ones staged by Kerala Peoples Arts Club (KPAC) to be made into a film. Written by Thoppil Bhasi in 1957 and staged by KPAC throughout the country, the play won the Kerala Sahitya Academy award for best literary work in the drama category in 1959.
The highpoint of the play was certainly its excellent music. The ONV Kurup-G. Devarajan team came out with some lovely songs like ‘Ambili mmmava thamara kumbilil...', ‘Cheppu kilukkana changathi...', (both by KPAC Sulochana), ‘Chillimulam kaadukalil...' (K.S. George), ‘Thunjan parambile thathey...' (Devarajan) etc. Popular stage artistes of the time O. Madhavan and KPAC Sulochana, acted in the lead roles.
The popularity of the play prompted film producer T. K. Pareekutty to bring out a screen version of the play. He used the same title and was made by his own company, Chandratara Productions'. The film was director Ramu Kariat's first major venture. The dialogues were written by Thoppil Bhasi, camera was by A. Vincent and editing by G. Venkitaraman. The dances choreographed by C. Gopalakrishnan also impressed. The popular stars of that time, Satyan, Kottayam Chellappan, Ambika, Miss Kumari etc. added star value to the film. This was marked the debut of Adoor Bhasi. The film's success paved the way for screen versions of other popular KPAC plays like ‘Puthiya Aakasham Puthiya Bhoomi' (1962), ‘Aswamedham' (1967) etc. The story was about the relationship between a good and a bad brother and also about the the much discussed employer-employee relations. It involved some very melodramatic scenes, which was ignited by the strongly worded dialogue. The songs written by P. Bhaskaran were set to music by M. S. Baburaj.
Rajan (Sathyan) is a real terror in his village. Emotional setbacks in his life were responsible for his delinquent nature. Rajan was in love with Radha (Ambika) and they wished to get married. But their dream is not realised. Rajan's brother Gopala Pillai (Kottayam Chellappan) marries Radha. Neglected and deceived by his own brother, lover and family members Rajan turns delinquent. He is ordered out of his house by his mother (Adoor Bhavani). Gopala Pillai manipulates the situation and amasses a major portion of the ancestral property. He then breaks away from the family and settles to live along with his wife.
Rajan's mother and sister are reduced to penury. Their only source of help is Vasu (P. J. Antony), a labourer. Gopala Pillai becomes a rich contractor and is involved in all sorts of activities against labourers. This turns Vasu against Gopala Pillai. Meanwhile, Rajan attempts to molest Chellamma (Miss Kumari), a Harijan girl. Chellamma manages to escape the attempt but the incident stuns her.
Gopala Pillai still nurses an enmity with his brother. He suspects that his wife Radha was still in love with Rajan. Gopala Pillai decides to do away with Rajan. He hires a few goons and has Rajan beaten up severely. The timely help given to Rajan by Chellamma, who offers to give him shelter in her hut, saves him. Gradually Rajan regains his health. The love and affection showered on him by Chellamma and Vasu Vasu brings about a change in his character. Rajan even falls in love with Chellamma.
Vasu organises a labour strike against the unjust activities of Gopala Pillai and his men. Karadi Kuttappan (P. A. Thomas), one of Gopala Pillai's thugs is murdered in a conflict between the labourers and Gopala Pillai's men. Vasu is arrested and the police launch a search for Rajan who goes into hiding. Now Rajan thinks that the society and his family need Vasu more than him. Overcome by the affection that the people seem to have for Vasu, Rajan turns himself to the police. He entrusts Chellamma, whom he loves more than his life, to his mother.
The film is one of the best social movies in the language, which told boldly the real life struggles of workers, projected social evils like untouchability etc. Some of the emotionally charged scenes, like the climax where Rajan entrusts his beloved to his mother, and taking a cup of coffee from Radha, his sister-in-law, with whom he had misbehaved earlier were impressive.
The film was shot at Vijaya and Vauhini Studios. Vincent's remarkable camerawork sets the tone of the film right from the opening scene, in which Rajan lights a cigarette in the darkness and tries to molest Chellamma. His work is considered one of the best in black and white Malayalam cinema. Sathyan, P. J. Antony, Miss Kumari and Adoor Bhavani excelled in their roles. In fact, Sathyan's powerful performance as the delinquent younger brother in the family was later extended into the definitive element in Kariat's ‘Chemmeen'. A dance sequence by Ambika was another highlight of the film.
The film was noted at the national level and won the President's Silver Medal, for regional films, in 1961.
Baburaj's music was outstanding. Out of the 11 songs, ten of them were penned by P. Bhaskaran. The dance numbers ‘Potti chirikkaruthe chilanke...' ( P Leela) and ‘Chanchala chanchala sundara..' (Leela- Kaviyoor Revamma) were instant hits. ‘Thengidalle thengildalle...' (Santha P. Nair), ‘Ethra manoharam aanaviduthe...' (Santha P. Nair) were the other hits. The song ‘Ethra manoharam...' written by G. Sankara Kurup was taken from his translation of Rabindranath Tagore's ‘Gitanjali.'
Will be remembered: As the first play by Thoppil Bhasi to be made into a film. The debut film of Adoor Bhasi and art director S. Konnanat. For Sathyan's brilliant performance and as the film to win the President's Silver Medal.