Saturday, November 22, 2008

Koodappirappu (1956)

Prem Nawaz, T. S. Muthiah, Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai, Ambika, Kumari Thankam, Aranmula Ponnamma, Adoor Pankajam

Musical milestone Prem Nawaz and Ambika
It was in this film in 1956 that Vayalar Rama Varma, one of the most powerful poets in the language, made his debut as lyricist. Vayalar, as he came to be known popularly, went on to reign supreme for over two decades. ‘Koodappirappu,’ produced under the banner of Khadeeja Productions and directed by J. D. Thottan, will always be remembered for this. In his very first film itself, Vayalar impressed with his rich poetic imagination that was conveyed through simple language.

The film also saw the entry of Prem Nawaz, brother of Prem Nazir, and Ambika, member of the Travancore Sisters family. She had made her Malayalam debut in the1952 film ‘Vishappinte Vili,’ but it was in this film that she carved a niche for herself. It was also her first film as heroine. ‘Koodappirappu’ also saw the debut of director J. D. Thottan and script-writer Ponjikkara Rafi.

The story was a tearjerker with a generous mix of all ingredients needed for a typical commercial film. However, the film could make no claim for artistic value or technical perfection. The only saving grace was the songs.
Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai, who wrote the story, picked up a few characters from some of the successful Tamil films of the time, placed them in the story that was set in the pattern of family dramas, far removed from and stretched out from reality. ‘Koodappirappu’ was just an average success at the box office.
The film tells the story of two brothers Rajan (Prem Nawaz) and Kesavan (T. S. Muthiah), sons of a poor widow Kalyani Amma (Aranmula Ponnamma). The only source of income of this middle class family is a grocery shop run by Kesavan. In order to give his younger brother the best in life and education, Kesavan even gives up his dream of marriage.

Parvathi (Ambika), the daughter of Kalyani Amma’s cousin, is Rajan’s childhood friend. Their friendship turns to love and they decide to get married.

In the meanwhile, Rajan leaves the village for higher education. Parvathi becomes pregnant. In the city, Rajan falls into the company of a professional singer Latha (Kumari Thankam). Kesavan goes to the city to bring back Rajan to the village and get him married to Parvathi. But Kesavan is insulted by Rajan and sent back. Kesavan stops sending money to Rajan. However, Rajan is thrown out by Latha and that brings him to his senses. He returns to the village, falls at the feet of his elder brother, marries Parvathi and brings the film to a happy end.
T.S. Muthiah excelled in his role as Kesavan. Ambika impressed with her charm, looks and talent. The performance of other actors was average. Prem Nawaz, as hero, failed to make an impact. There were 10 songs penned by Vayalar and a Swati Tirunal kriti in the film. Music by K. Raghavan complemented the lyrics. The songs by Vayalar fitted the situations and characters perfectly.

The solo by Santha P. Nair ‘Thumbi thumbi vaa vaa…,’ a romantic solo by A. M. Raja, ‘Maanasa rani…,’ one of M. L. Vasantha Kumari’s best songs in Malayalam ‘Mani varnane innu njaan kandu sakhi...,’ a duet by Raja and Santha P. Nair ‘Angadiyil thottu madangiya ...’ became instant hits. Raghavan dispensed with the practice of imitating other language tunes.

Will be remembered: As the first film of poet-lyricist Vayalar Rama Varma, Prem Nawaz, director J. D. Thottan and script-writer Ponjikkara Rafi. Ambika madder her debut as heroine. The film will be remembered for the hit songs.


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