Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Prem Nazir, Punjabi, Sheela, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Aranmula Ponnamma, Jayasree, Adoor Bhasi, Master Shaji etc.
FAMILY DRAMA Kaviyoor Ponnamma and Master Shaji in a scene from the film
Released on December 22, 1964, ‘Kudumbini' was one of the best family dramas in Malayalam.
The film was based on the Malayalam novel of the same title authored by K. G. Sethunath. Scripted by Sasikumar, the dialogues were written by another popular Malayalam novelist E. J. Philip, who was popularly known by his pen name, Kaanam E. J.
The story of this highly emotional family drama resembled some of the Hindi films like ‘Ghar Sansar' (1958), ‘Bhabhi' (1956) etc. and Tamil films like ‘Kula Deivam' (1956). ‘Kudumbini' was a huge box office hit.
The star cast included popular artists of the time like Thikkurissi, Prem Nazir, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Sheela etc.
This was the debut film of playback singer Zero Babu. Though C. O. Anto entered Malayalam cinema in 1963 through the film ‘Kadalamma', it was ‘Kudumbini' that brought the playback singer to the limelight. This was the second film of music director L. P. R. Varma and one that brought him fame.. His first film ‘Sthree Hrudayam' went unnoticed.
The film was shot at Film Cntre, Chennai (then Madras). Film critics consider the dialogues written by Kaanam E. J. as a model for such family dramas.
Successful novels, when adapted on the screen, very often failed simply because of unimpressive dialogues. ‘Kudumbini' was an unusual example of some very good dialogues that managed to keep the emotional impact of the novel on screen also.
The story…Raghava Kurup (Thikkurissi) lives happily with his brother Madhavankutty (Prem Nazir), sister Sarada (Jayasree) and mother Parukutty Amma (Aranmula Ponnamma) in a small village where religious customs, practices and traditions were strictly followed .
The conduct of the temple was the responsibility of Kurup's family. The land holdings of the family were often sold out to raise funds to conduct the festival.
Raghava Kurup marries Lakshmi (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) and she takes over the administration of the household. Lakshmi objects to the lavish spending, especially for the annual temple festival.
Except her husband all other members of the family disagree with her view. The landlord Swami's (Punjabi) eye is on the land holdings of Kurup's family. With the support of his manager Kelu Nair (Adoor Bhasi), he takes advantage of the dispute in Kurup's family over the conduct of the festival and turns Madhavankutty against his brother.
Madhavankutty demands his share of the ancestral property and vows to conduct the festival. When Kurup disapproves, Madhavankutty leaves home in protest.
Raghava Kurup resolves the family dispute by transferring the property in Madhavankutty's name and decides to leave home with his wife and son. Madhavankutty realises his mistake and requests his brother not to leave, to which Raghava Kurup accedes. But the peace and harmony established in the family does not last long. Madhavankutty marries Janaki (Sheela), his lover with the blessings of his elder brother and his wife. Sarada poisons the mind of Janaki and turns her against Lakshmi.
The family is split and Raghava Kurup shifts to a small house with Lakshmi and son Manikuttan (Master Shaji).
Janaki, who is pregnant, is admitted to the hospital and her condition becomes critical. Kurup and Lakshmi rush to the hospital. Lakshmi donates blood and Janaki's life is saved. But disruption of power supply in the hospital and negligence results in the death of Lakshmi.
The film focussed on some of the undesirable traditions followed in some of the villages, like families spending on festivals just for the sake of honour or prestige. Most of such families are ruined because of such extravagant spending.
Kaviyoor Ponnamma excelled as Lakshmi, the central character. Master Shaji impressed with his natural acting. Thikkurissi, Prem Nazir and others also did justice to their roles.
Seven songs written by Abhayadev and set to tune by L. P. R.Varma became popular. The solo sung by Anto, ‘Veedinu ponmani vilakku nee...' became an instant hit and is considered the best of the singer. Two children's songs, ‘Ambilimaman pidicha ...' (K. J. Yesudas) and ‘Enthellam kathakal undammakku...' (P.Leela) also became very popular. The other hits include the romantic number ‘Swapnathin pushparathathil...' (Leela-Yesudas), ‘Veedana ellam enikku...' (Leela), ‘Olathil thulli ...' (Leela) and ‘Kanninu kanninu...' (Zero Babu).
Will be remembered: As a good social film. As the debut film of playback singer Zero Babu and for its excellent music.