Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chechi (1950)

Cast: Cherthala Vasudeva Kurup, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, G. N. Raju, S. P. Pillai, Miss Kumari, Aranmula Ponnamma etc.

‘Oachira Parabrahmodayam Nadana Sabha' was a leading drama troupe. Popular playwrights like Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai, N. P. Chellappan Nair and others wrote several historical, mythological and social dramas for the troupe. ‘Yachaki', ‘Vasanthi', ‘Suprabha, ‘Chechi' were some of the social plays staged by the troupe. In 1950, Swami Narayanan produced the film version of the play ‘Chechi' with the same title.

The drama was a huge hit. Popular stage artiste and singer Vaikom Vasudevan Nair played the hero in the play. Aranmula Ponnamma and Thankam Vasudevan Nair, sisters in real life, and Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair also played important roles in the play.

There was a time when theatre was taboo for women. Male artistes like Oachira Velukutty performed the roles of female characters. And when women did venture to act they faced a lot of flak from the society. ‘Chechi' was an strong reply to such mindless criticism.

Playwright N. P. Chellappan Nair wrote script and dialogues for the film. Highly emotional dialogues, mandatory to a stage play, were modified for the film. But they carried the punch and sentimental impact. Directed by T. Janakiram, the film was shot at Ratna Studios, Salem. This was the debut Malayalam film of T. Janakiram. Radhika (Miss Kumari) is a popular stage actress. The society is suspicious of her morality and rumours are spread about her personal life. Radhika entrusts her younger sister Malathi (Omana) with the landlord Singapore Gopalan (K. S. Krishna Pillai) requesting him to look after her and leaves to another town. Radhika wanted to keep her sister away from the rumours and disgrace heaped on her because she chose an acting career. Malathi grows up under the guardianship of Gopalan without knowing that her elder sister is a stage actress.

Radhika joins the drama troupe owned by Ratheesh (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair). Ratheesh blackmails Radhika with the threat of disclosing the truth about her to Malathi. This was one of his nasty tricks to win over Radhika. The hero of the troupe Prafullachandran (Cherthala Vasudeva Kurup) is in love with Radhika. Having failed in his attempts to win her heart, Ratheesh manages to influence Kanakam (Aranmula Ponnamma), wife of Gopalan and succeeds in his plan to stay with the family of the landlord.

Malathi falls in love with Vasantha Kumar (G. N. Raju) son of Gopalan. But Ratheesh poisons Vasantha Kumar's mind with stories about the private life of Malathi's sister Radhika. Malathi is abandoned by her lover and she leaves the landlord's home in search of her sister. When Malathi comes to know about the facts from Radhika , her anger and hatred against her elder sister melts. Radhika pleads to Vasantha Kumar to marry Malathi, but he refuses. Ratheesh attempts to murder Vasantha Kumar to usurp his wealth. Prafulla Chandran intervenes in time and saves Vasantha Kumar's life. Thinking that the allegations about her life ruined the life of her sister, Radhika decides to end her life and sends her last words in a note to Malathi. All of them rush and manage to save Radhika's life. They now come to know about the tricks played by Ratheesh and misunderstandings are cleared. Radhika marries Prafulla Chandran, and Malathi marries Vasantha Kumar.

There were 11 songs written by Abhayadev and tuned by G. K. Venkatesh. Some of the songs became hits. A classical raga-based number sung by Kaviyoor Revamma, ‘Kalitha kalamaya Kailasavasa...' was the most popular. Some of the songs were direct copies of popular Hindi tunes. Other hits from the film include ‘Varumo en priya manasan…' (T. A. Lakshmi), and ‘Chudu chinthathan...' (Kalinga Rao-Mohan Kumari).

Will be remembered: Debut film of music director G. K. Venkatesh, playback singer T. A. Lakshmi and director T. Janakiram. And for the classical based song ‘Kalitha kalamaya Kailasavasa...'

1 comment:

  1. hai ajay menon am the grand daughter of this cherthala vasudeva kurup.happy to see our appuppans name