Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Oru Penninte Katha (1971)
Sheela and Sathyan in the film
“Oru Penninte Katha” released in 1971 is considered to be one of the best Malayalam films produced in the 70s which proved that a good story with strong characters will always be a success. A new concept was experimented through the unusual story written by Moses, an amateur short story writer. Women-centred subjects have always been a favourite with Indian cinema. The film tells the story of a woman who takes revenge on the man who ruined her life, coming into his life in another guise.
Probably the Tamil film “Thyagabhoomi “ (1939) directed by the legendary producer and director K.Subrahmaniam presented first on screen such a character.
In this film S.D. Subbalakshmi performed the character of a Brahmin woman abandoned by her husband, who comes again into his life in another guise and takes revenge on him and the evils of the society that stood against her. Though the theme and the story of “Thyagabhoomi” and “Oru Penninte Katha” is not the same, the central characters of these films are women who suffer thus and the name of these women characters in both films is the same - Savithri.
“Oru Penninte Katha” was a huge hit at the box office. Produced by K.S.R.Moorthy under the banner of “Chithranjali”, the film was directed by K.S.Sethumadhavan and ranks high among the Malayalam films directed by him. The film was shot at Prasad Studios, Chennai and the main outdoor location was Munnar in Kerala. Cameraman Melli Irani copied on film the natural beauty of the tea estates for the few scenes and song sequences. Editing by Sreenivasalu and choreography by E. Madhavan was commendable. Music by G. Devarajan was excellent. Script and dialogues written by S.L. Puram Sadanandan impressed the audience.
Popular artistes like Satyan, K.P.Ummer, Muthiah, Govindankutty, Adoor Bhasi, Sheela, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Jayabharathi, Junior Sheela etc added star value to the film.
The grand success of “Oru Penninte Katha” prompted producers and directors to produce films based on stories having similar women characters in the lead role.
Savithri (Sheela) is the only daughter of Govindan (T.S.Muthiah) who is employed in the tea estates owned by Madhavan Thampi (Satyan). One day Madhavan Thampi happens to see Savithri singing and dancing on the riverside and is attracted towards her. Raghavan (Govindankutty) is the local leader of the labourers. Rajan (K.P.Ummer), another leader of the estate workers is involved in a criminal case framed against him by the estate owners and the police is in search of him. Rajan gets refuge in Savithri's house through Raghavan. Love blooms between Savithri and Rajan. Quite accidently Madhavan Thampi happens to see Rajan in his hideout. Savithri fears that Thampi may report it to the police. Her friend Thankamma (Jayabharathi) advises her to approach Thampi and plead with him to not report to the police. Accordingly Savithri reaches Thampi's bungalow and is raped by him. Thampi also informs the police and Rajan is arrested.
Savithri becomes pregnant, but Thampi disowns her. Govindan commits suicide and the helpless Savithri leaves town after giving birth to a child whom she leaves in the hospital. Thampi marries Subhadra (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) and they live happily with their daughter Sreedevi (Junior Sheela). Mismanagement of the business by Thampi results in huge losses. Thampi's estate and property is bought by a rich woman Gayathri Devi who comes from Bombay. Thampi contests the Assembly elections and loses. Raghavan, who is a nominee of Gayathri Devi, wins.
Gayathri Devi repays Thampi's debts too and she files a suit against Thampi for recovery of money she paid to clear his debts. Thampi's house is about to be attached when Subhadra approaches Gayathri Devi with a request to wait till their daughter gets married.
Gayathri Devi narrates to Subhadra the reason behind her actions. Gayathri Devi is none other than Savithri, the daughter of Thampi's poor servant Govindan, who was abandoned by him mercilessly. Savithri struggled hard in life in Bombay till she inherited a huge amount of wealth from a benefactor.
Thampi writes a letter to Gayathri Devi, in which he tells Sreedevi that it is her own daughter whom he adopted from the hospital. . Gayathri Devi transfers all her wealth in Sreedevi's name , but Sreedevi refuses to accept it and Gayathri Devi returns to Bombay.
Sheela and Satyan excelled in their roles. Even minor characters in the film impressed the audience. The gossip monger old woman in the town played by T. R. Omana, Thampi's faithful servant Unnithan performed by Adoor Bhasi, etc are examples.
The titles of the film adopted a new style, Satyan appearing on the screen to introduce the technical crew behind the production of the film. The technicians also appeared on the screen.
Songs written by Vayalar were composed by Devarajan. All the songs became hits. P.Suseela's “Poonthenaruvi ....” was an instant hit. The Kharaharapriya raga based romantic number “Sravana chandrika ....” (P Suseela) is one of the best in the genre. The devotional number “Vaanavum bhoomiyum....” ( P Leela) , “Soorya Grahanam....” (Yesudas) and “Kadalezhu kadalezhu....” (Madhuri, Jayachandran, chorus) etc were other hits from the film.