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.


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