Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kusrithikuttan (1966)

Cast: Thikkurissi, Adoor Bhasi, Master Suresh Varma, Ambika, Pankajavalli etc.
FAMILY MELODRAMA Ambika in a scene from the film

‘Kusruthikuttan,' was a remake of the Telugu hit ‘Deeksha' (1951) directed by K. S. Prakash Rao. The Telugu film was remade in Tamil as ‘Anni' (1951). In both the language versions singing star G. Varalakshmi was the heroine and her performance considered the best in her career. During the early 50s ‘family melodrama' was quite popular. The story of such films focused on typically affectionate characters in families like mothers, daughters-in-law, elder brothers etc. on who the emotional element revolved.

Several Hindi films were produced with similar stories with their titles indicating the nature of the story. ‘Bhabhi' (1938 & 1957), ‘Bhabhi Ki Choodiyan' (1961), ‘Bahu' (1955), ‘Bhaurani' (1940 & 1950) etc. are examples. This trend was followed in the South Indian cinema also, particularly in Tamil. ‘Kula Deivam' (1956) and ‘Anbukkor Anni' (1961) are examples.

In Malayalam, films which told similar stories, like ‘Kudumbini' (1964), ‘Chettathi' (1965) etc. also proved to be successful. It was the success of such emotional dramas that prompted producers Latha Movies to remake the Tamil box office hit ‘Anni' as ‘Kusruthikuttan' in Malayalam. Since ‘Chettathi' (elder brothers wife), the Malayalam equivalent of the Tamil ‘Anni', was already used for another film released the previous year, the producers might have opted for the title ‘Kusruthikuttan' (mischievous child).

Directed by M. Krishnan Nair, ‘Kusruthikuttan' closely followed the story of the ‘Anni' and the dialogues written by Thikkurissi for the Malayalam film reflected the sentiments of the dialogues written for the Tamil movie by M. S. Subramaniam. This was the debut Malayalam film of music director Vijaya Bhasker. And the music was one of factors that contributed to the film's success.

A novel publicity technique was adopted by the producers and distributors. The publicity notices distributed by the theatres were in the form of a song booklet instead of the normal practice of a single bill sheet. The main characters in the film spoke about themselves through these ‘notice booklets'.

The star cast included popular artistes like Thikkurissi, Adoor Bhasi, Ambika, Pankajavalli, Sukumari etc. A pet ram featured in the film was prominently projected in the advertisement campaigns.

The story is about the emotional bond between Lakshmi (Ambika) and her brother-in-law Gopi (Master Suresh Varma). Young Gopi is entrusted by his dying mother to her grown up step-son Madhavan Nair (Thikkurissi) and his wife Lakshmi. They make a solemn promise and Lakshmi dedicates herself to its fulfilment. Gopi is dear to Lakshmi as her own son Unni, if not dearer.

Gopi is a bundle of mischief and is precocious for his age. Very early in life, Gopi feels that he has a mission to discharge, as the avenger of the wrongs against the weak. Gopi becomes a terror to the ‘bad' in the village. But in the eyes of Lakshmi, Gopi could do no wrong though she is duly plagued with news of his misdeeds.

Lakshmi's mother (Pankajavalli) arrives to poison the mind of her daughter and son-in-law against Gopi. Once, Gopi and his pet ram ‘Krishnan' attack Johny, the son of the landlord under whom Madhavan Nair is employed. Johny's hand is broken. Lakshmi's mother sells Krishnan to the slaughter house. Madhavan Nair is dismissed from service by the landlord. Patient so far, Madhavan Nair revolts and partitions the house and forbids Gopi from coming to his portion of the house. Gopi and Lakshmi cannot stand the separation. Gopi attempts to meet Lakshmi. Lakshmi's mother humiliates Gopi and in his fury the boy throws a cup towards the woman, but the cup hits Lakshmi and injures her.

Gopi attempts to meet his sister-in-law by breaking the fence put up by Madhavan Nair. Madhavan Nair's heart melts and accepts his younger brother. Everyone comes to know that Lakshmi's mother was trying to separate the brothers.

The story is simple and moving; well written and narrated. Ambika excelled in her role. Thikkurissi, Pankajavalli and others performed their roles impressively. The performance of Master Suresh Varma was outstanding. The comic track involving Adoor Bhasi and Sukumari also impressed.

Five songs, written by P. Bhaskaran, were tuned by Vijaya Bhasker. The devotional number ‘Ammaye kalippikkan themmadi vesham kettum...' (S Janaki-B.Vasantha) and the solo by Vasantha, ‘Mani chilampe manichilampe...' became super hits. The other hits include the lullaby ‘Raareero unni raareero...' (Janaki) and the P. B. Sreenivas-Janaki duet ‘Punnellu koythallo...' The super hit song ‘Ammaye kalippikkaan...,' which was repeated several times in the film, was sung by Janaki as a solo also.

Will be remembered: As the debut Malayalam film of music director Vijaya Bhasker. For the songs, especially for ‘Ammaye kalippikkaan...' and as a good social film. 

Post Script:


 In 1947 the legendary film producers based in Kolkata, "New Theatres" produced a bilingual film "Chhota Bhai " (Hindi)/"Ramer Sumati" (Bengali) based on a story written by Sarathchandra Chatterji which told the story of an affectionate daughter in law of a Hindu joint family who loved her brother in law as if he was her own son.  


The highly emotional character was performed by Molina Devi and though the film was not a  huge success at the box office, this family drama remain one of the best under this genre in Hindi cinema.   Hindi film "Ustad Pedro" (1951) produced by "Omar Khayyam Films" also had a similar story line.  

The story of the telugu movie "Deeksha" was developed from these two Hindi films, and the telugu movie and its Tamil remake "Anni" created records in collecting at the box office.

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