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.


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