Monday, January 31, 2011

Oraal Koodi Kallanaayi (1964)

This early Malayalam film sought to project basic social issues like unemployment of the educated. This screen adaptation of the stage play of the same title, written by popular playwright S. L. Puram Sadanandan, was a box office success. Written in 1956, the play was staged the same year by Kalpana Theatres, a troupe headed by the playwright himself. The stage play was a hit. It won the gold medal for the best play in the competition conducted by Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad.

The popularity of the stage play paved the way for the screen version. Produced under the banner of Thomas Pictures, this was the first film produced and directed by P. A. Thomas. The script written by Sasikumar, who later became a very successful director in Malayalam, had some deviations from the original. The dialogues written by the playwright were impressive.

Apart from the unemployment of the educated, the film also criticised the practice of accepting huge donations for appointment of teachers by managements of Government aided private schools. The film was a hard blow directed straight at such managements.

Cast: Prem Nazir, Sheela, T. S. Muthiah, S. P. Pillai, Murali, Ambika, Devaki etc.

SOCIALLY RELEVANT Sheela and Prem Nazir in a scene from the film

The film was shot at Film Centre, Chennai. Camera by P. B. Maniyam and dance direction by Kalamandalam Madhavan was commendable. Several personalities from professional drama made their entry to Malayalam cinema through this film. Popular among them was music director Job. He was assisted by George Pallathanam, another popular stage artiste. This film saw the debut f lyricist Sreemoolanagaram Vijayan. The film is widely considered one of the best musical hits of the early years of Malayalam cinema.

The star cast included popular artists like Prem Nazir, S. P. Pillai, Muthiah, Adoor Bhasi, Ambika, Sheela etc. Stars like Gemini Ganeshan, Thikkurissi, P. J. Antony, Alleppey Vincent, Kushalakumari etc. appeared in guest roles. A stage play featuring these artistes was an added attraction of the film. The publicity campaign of the film adopted new methods like printing still photos of the scenes on the cover pages of notebooks.

Govindan (T. S. Muthiah) is a poor farmer who struggles hard to bring up and educate his children. His elder daughter Devika (Ambika) secures the job of a school teacher, but only on donating a huge amount to the management. Govindan's son Prabhakaran (Prem Nazir) is an unemployed graduate and another daughter Sharada (Devaki) is undergoing teachers training course. Govindan borrows money to educate his children from the local financier Manakku Kamath (S. P. Pillai) by pledging his house and land.

Owing to hard work and neglect of health Govindan contracts tuberculosis. The family struggles to survive on the income of Devika. Prabhakaran helps at a teashop owned by Beeran (P A Thomas). He also assists in maintaining the accounts there. Beeran's daughter Aysha (Sheela) falls in love with Prabhakaran. Shekharan (Murali), Devika's colleague in school proposes marriage. But duty bound to her family, Devika requests Shekhar to wait till Prabhakaran gets a good job. Meanwhile, the Government does not approve of Devika's appointment and she loses her job.

Soon, Devika also falls prey to tuberculosis. Shekharan helps Devika for the treatment, but the disease turns acute. Manakku Kamath sues for his dues and the court orders confiscation of Govindan's house. Prabhakaran reaches the spot with money to prevent the execution of the court order. The police also reach the spot. They arrest Prabhakaran for stealing money. Heartbroken Devika dies bringing the film to a tragic end.

This was perhaps the first South Indian film to focus on burning social issues like unemployment and the illegal appointments in schools. Hindi films like Bimal Roy's ‘Naukari' (1954) and Raj Kapoor's ‘Shree 420' (1955) had unemployment as its sub-plot.

Ambika excelled in the role of the struggling teacher who sacrifices her life for the family. Prem Nazir handled his dual-faced role of the romantic hero and the dejected unemployed youth quite impressively. S. P. Pillai's hilarious comic role, in which he used the Konkani slang, was a unique experience. This character reappeared in different forms later films like for example in ‘Kannur Deluxe' (1969).

The lyrics were by Abhayadev and Sreemoolanagaram Vijayan. Two poems written by the great poet G. Sankara Kurup were also included. The music composed by Job was excellent. Some of the songs became very popular. The romantic hit, ‘Kinavilennum vannenne ikkili...' (K. J. Yesudas-P. Leela) is still considered one of the best in this genre. ‘Karivala vikkana...' (Leela) is one of the early hits of the singer. The prayer ‘Karunyam kolunna snehaswaroopa...' and the children's song ‘Poovukal thendum poompaatta…' (both by Leela and chorus) are the best film versions of G Sankara Kurup's poems. Another duet by Yesudas and Leela, ‘Chayakkadakkaran Beeran kakkede...' (Yesudas-Leela) was another popular hit.

Will be remembered: As the debut film of music director Job and lyricist Sreemoolanagaram Vijayan. As the first venture of producer-director P. A. Thomas, as the first film based on a play by S L Puram Sadanandan and for its lsongs.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

C Ramchandra and Malayalam cinema.

Strange is it not ?  C Ramchandra is connected , directly, with Malayalam cinema. 

A song composed by C Ramchandra is included in Malayalam cinema, "Thaskaraveeran" (1957)

The Lata number from "Azaad", Hindi film which was based on the same story of Thaskaraveeran, the original of the series of films made on the story written by Namakkal T Ramalingam Pillai, "Malaikkallan", tamil novel which was filmed for the first time in tamil under the same title Malaikkallan (1954)
A curio about the story and the film, the film was remade in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Sinhalese.  "Azad" made in Hindi in 1956 with C Ramchandra's music.  Ramchandras tunes became so popular that , the series of films reamade with the same story copied the Hindi tunes  - in Bettada Kalla (Kannada0, Thaskaraveeran (Malayalam) and  Soorasena (Sinhalese).
And according to me (my own inference, comments from the members welcome) in Malayalam film almost all the songs were copies of Hindi songs - Vannallo vasantha kaalam (Dekho ji Bahar aayee....Lata),  Pokalle pokalle pokalle nee.... (Na bole na bole nabole re.... Lata),    Malar thorum mandahasam....(Kitna haseen hai mausam...Lata, chitalkar),  Chapalam chapalam....(Aplam chapalam....... Lata, Usha),   etc.    A fast moving number, "Kabhi khamosh rahta hai.....Pee ke daras ko .... Lata was included in the Malayalam film as such, that the song was picturised as Lata s song itself in Malayalam film.    Ragini dancing to this song in the Malayalam film, the corresponding scene in Hindi, Meenakumari's song and dance.

A fast moving song, the producer/director Ramulu Naidu might have thought to keep this song in lata's voice, because I feel finding words for the song and retaining the tempo of the song might be difficult. It is not that Abhayadev is not competent to write lyrics to this tune, but I myself think that this tune in Malayalam, retaining the meaning and concept of the song, might have been a difficult task.  

So, in Malayalam cinema, we have the full length Hindi song in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar.  Long before her song in Nellu, the Nightingale's voice echoed in the Malayalam cinema in 1957.

A Qawali sung by Raghunath seth yadav and party , "Marna  bhi mohabat...." from Azad also was retained in the Malayalam film in the correspondig scene.

C Ramchandra started his career as an actor in early 1930s, he acted in the movie  "Naganand" (1935) produced in Marathi and Hindi under the same title, the film was directed by Y V Rao, a South Indian and father of "Julie"/Chattakkari fame Lakshmi.  The film miserably flopped at box office, It was based on a story from Kathasarithsagara.

I believe his music career started not in the north, but in the south.  His first music composition was for the Tamil movie, "Jayakkodi" produced in late 1930s, and he became popular with his second Tamil movie, "Vanamohini" (1942).  In Vanamohini he sang also for the hero, M K Radha.  His songs from Vanamohini became hits, with good Tamil diction he sang the songs.

In Tamil, another super musical hit to his credit was "Vanjikottai Valiban" produced in 1950s by Gemini films, which was remade in Hindi as "Raj Tilak"  The dance competition in the films featuring Padmini and Vyjayantimala remain a wonder in cinema.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


‘Adhyapika' was a screen adaptation of the novel of the same title authored by novelist E. J. Philip, popularly known by his pen name Kaanam E J. First published in 1966, the wide popularity of this novel prompted producer-director P. Subramaniam to make a film version of this unremitting tragic melodrama under the ‘Neela Productions' banner. The screen version of the novel turned a huge box office hit.

The story revolves around a middleclass school teacher. ‘Adhyapika” told on the screen the tragic personal life of a lady teacher. The dialogues written by the novelist were impressive and he managed to retain the emotional impact of the novel on screen too. Directed by P. Subramaniam, the film was shot at Merryland Studios. The cinematography by E. N. C. Nair, and editing by Gopalakrishnan were commendable. The music V. Dakshinamoorthy was perhaps one of the main reasons for the success of the film.

The cast included the popular artistes like Madhu, Thikkurissi, Kottarakkara, T. K. Balachandran, Padmini, Ambika and the romantic hero of Telugu cinema, Ramakrishna. The film was designed to showcase Padmini's histrionic talents and remains one of her best performances in Malayalam despite being a wee bit melodramatic. The film won the National award for the best Malayalam film under the regional film awards category in 1968.
TRAGIC MELODRAMA Padmini in the film 'Adhyapika'
Saramma (Padmini) teaches in an upper primary teacher. She supports her father Vareechan (Kottarakkara) and two siblings, brother Baby (T. K. Balachandran) and sister Thankamma (Ambika). Vareechan stands in the way of Saramma's marriage fearing loss of her steady income, the family's only source of revenue. Koshy Kunju (Ramakrishna), a cashier in a bank in the village is drawn towards Saramma. When Saramma comes to know that Thankamma also has a soft corner for Koshy Kunju, she sacrifices her love for the sake of her sister.

Koshy Kunju marries Thankamma. Saramma struggles to conduct the marriage of her sister and also to educate Baby. She borrows money from Kariachan (Thikkurissi), a local financier. Saramma also gives private tuitions to his children. Kariachan's children simply adore their teacher. Kariachan proposes marriage to Saramma, but Vareechan objects. The headmaster of the school, Chacko (Madhu), is also in love with Saramma and asks for her hand in marriage. Here again Vareechan stands in the way.

Baby completes his graduation and gets a job in a bank. He marries a girl of his choice. Meanwhile, the rumour mills start churning. Stories about Saramma's character are spread. Her own brother and sister start believing them. They think that Saramma has an illicit relationship with Kariachan. Saramma's health deteriorates. She is diagnosed of tuberculosis. Saramma loses her job, is abandoned by all and is forced to live in a dark corner of her house. She eventually succumbs to the dreadful disease. Her final days are sad, lonely, except for company of her faithful pet dog. During her final moments, when she struggles for a drop of water, it is this dog that helps her quench her thirst.

The central character, Nita, played by Supriya Chaudhary, in the Bengali film ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara' (1960), directed by Ritwik Ghatak, closely resembles Padmini's role in ‘Adhyapika.'

Padmini excelled in the role of the school teacher who sacrifices her life for the family. Madhu, Thikkurissi, Kottarakkara, Ambika and all other artistes came out with impressive performances. The Telugu star Ramakrishna also did well in his small role. The climax scene has a close resemblance to a sequence in Thomas Hardy's ‘Far From The Madding Crowd.' In this novel Fanny Robin is helped by a dog to reach her destination when she falls on the road, sick and abandoned by the world. The pet dog in ‘Adhyapika' featured prominently in the posters and other publicity material of the film.

The nine songs written by O. N. V. Kurup were tuned by Dakshinamoorthy. Some of them became hits. The romantic number ‘Swapnasundari nee orikkalen...' (K. J. Yesudas), the devotional numbers ‘Palli manikale palli manikale...' (P. Leela, Renuka and chorus) and ‘Kanya Nandana…' (Leela) are still popular. The other hits include the romantic duet ‘Aathira raavile…' (Yesudas-P. Susheela), and ‘Rajakumari...' (Leela).

Will be remembered: As one of the best weepies in Malayalam. For Padmini's brilliant acting, excellent music and as the National award winning film.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Remakes from Malayalam to Other Languages

Some stories from Malayalam films are remade in other languages also. Such references seldom came in articles on cinema.

Hence the movie watching experience of members can help to build up such a list. I also might be having such details in my old diaries, which I have to get complied.
This point struck me in the course of my discussion with one of my friends. These are some examples

Paadunna Puzha - Remade in Tamil as "Mannippu" (Jayashankar, Ushakumari etc) It was remade in Telugu also I remember, title of telugu I have to confirm.

Agniputhri - Remade as Darpan (loose adaptation. Comments from the members welcome)

And the later films like Thenmavin Kombathu, Thaalavattam, Manichithrathazhu, Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam etc etc which all know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Real True Copy

Here is the true copy - a real true copy - Tune copied, lyrics copied.

Original - Hindi film "Ram Rajya" (1943)  Directed by Vijay Bhatt.  Music Shanker Rao Vyas

Singer, the renowned singer, legend of Hindustani music, Saraswati Rane.

Song " Beena Madhur Madhur Kachu Bol...."

And quite surprisingly, do you know, on the gramaphone record label (78 rpm) the singer's name is given as "Chitralekha 's song".  Chitralekha is the name of the character in the film, I think the role was performed by Vijayalakshmi, as the servant maid of the heroine, Seetha devi enacted by Shobhana Samarth.  The song is featured as a lullaby sung by her to  get Seetha to sleep.

And when Ram Rajya was remade in Malayalam as "Seetha", Abhaya dev translated the lyrics and Dakshinamoorthy swami just copied the tune, making the song a real TRUE COPY.

Just listen to the song sent as attachment.  In Malayalam the song that happened to be the first of P Suseela, is "Veeney paaduka priyatharamaai...."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sariyo Thetto (1953)

Cast: Thikkurissi, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar, S. P. Pillai, Jose Prakash, Miss Kumari, Meena Sulochana, Adoor Pankajam, Adoor Bhavani

FAMILY DRAMA Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nairand Meena Sulochana in a scene from the film

This Malayalam film, released in 1953, was the first directorial venture of actor- producer-director-scriptwriter-lyricist Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair. The story and dialogues were by also by him. Widely advertised as a family drama with a social theme, the film did not deal with any specific social issues. The story was in line with some of the other language films of the time, in particular Tamil films like ‘Andaman Kaithi' (1952), ‘Vazhkai' (1949), etc. The film was shot at Udaya Studios. The film was jointly directed by Thikkurissi and V. A. Reynolds.

The film failed to impress and could not set the box office jingling. The camera was handled by M. R. Ranganathan, edited by S. Williams, the dances were choreographed by Ramunni and Damodaran.

The star cast included some of the popular artistes and also introduced some new faces to Malayalam cinema. While Thikkurissi, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar, S. P. Pillai, Miss Kumari, Sethulakshmi, Adoor Pankajam added star value, the film introduced Adoor Bhavani and Meena Sulochana, who later went on to become Thikkurissi's wife in real life. N. Damodaran, dance director also began his film career with this film.

The unusual story with strange twists and turns was far from real. The strange storyline is widely believed to be one of the main reasons for the film's failure. Technically the film was noted for its good camera work and editing.

Appu (Thikkurissi) returns from military service and gets employed in his hometown as a lorry driver. He lives happily with his mother (P. K. Kamalakshi) and younger sister Thankam (Meena Sulochana). Another sister of his, Sarada (Sethulakshmi), died while he was in military service. Her death left many unanswered questions. Sarada was a dance teacher and was in love with a rich landlord (Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar) who employed her to teach his daughter. Sarada was pregnant when she died. Rumours were that she committed suicide when she was betrayed by her lover, while others believed that she was killed by the landlord. Appu firmly suspected the landlord's hand in his sister's death.

One day Appu offers to give some school children a lift in his lorry. The owner dismisses him from service for this. Appu meets Geetha (Miss Kumari), the daughter of the cruel landlord and financier and they fall in love. Appu secures a job as her father's driver. Geetha becomes pregnant. She absconds and everyone think that she has eloped with her lover. The fact is that all these happenings were the doings of Appu. It was his plan to take revenge on the landlord who was responsible for his sister's death. Appu takes Geetha to an orphanage and leaves her there.

Meanwhile, Kalyani (Thankam), another woman who had fallen prey to the landlord's wicked machinations was awiting for her chance to get even with his wicked man. Kalyani roams around the town as a mad woman. Appu reaches the landlord's house at the head of a group of people who were subjected to his treacherous deeds. The terrified landlord climbs to the top of his house. Precisely at this moment Kalyani follows him and stabs him. The landlord falls to his death. Now Appu's revenge is complete. Geetha is brought back home along with her new born child. They donate a major part of their wealth to the orphanage and other poor people in the town.

Thikkurissi and Miss Kumari excelled in the lead roles. Deviating from his usual character roles, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar was impressive in the negative role. The comedy scenes, involving S. P. Pillai and Adoor Pankajam,were copies from earlier films. This film also saw the debut of Jose Prakash as actor. He was cast as the manager of the orphanage.

The 14 songs written by Thikkurissi were tuned by V. Dakshinamoorthy. Some of the songs, like the devotional sung by Meena Sulochana, ‘Kamala lochana Kanna...' became very popular. The philosophical number sung by Jose Prakash ‘Paadu pettu paadangalil...' introduced a new trend in Malayalam cinema. This song had the title ‘Shariyo Thetto' that was repeated at the end of almost each couplet of this song. And this was used right through the film. The other hits from the film include the romantic number ‘Vaarmazhaville vaa...' (Jose Prakash-P.Leela), ‘Prathikara chintha …' (Dakshinamoorthy) and the comic song sung by Kuttappa Bhagavathar and Vijayalakshmi.

This song strung together almost all the titles of the Malayalam films released during that period along its lyrics. The song ‘Balanaam Prahladaneppole...' had the titles of films released during the same year like ‘Thiramala', ‘Velakkaran', ‘Lokaneethi' etc. This song pictured on S. P. Pillai and Omana was one of the highpoints of the film and a novelty too.

Will be remembered: As directorial debut of Thikkurissi. It will also be remembered as the debut film of Adoor Bhavani, Meena Sulochana, Jose Prakash as actor, and dance director N. Damodaran.