Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kanakachilanka (1966)

‘Kanakachilanka' was an unusual Malayalam film with a thief as the hero. Some earlier Malayalam films did have golden-hearted heroes in disguise as outlaws or bandits. ‘Kerala Kesari' (1951) and ‘Thaskaraveeran' (1957) are two such examples. But the hero of ‘Kanakachilanka' was a ‘real' thief with a romantic heart. The plot of the film was from the block-buster Hindi film ‘Kismet' (1943) that created history by running continuously for three years in a single theatre in Calcutta. This film was an adaptation of the Hollywood film ‘Algiers' (1938).

‘Kismet' faced protests as it was felt that the film glamorised criminal life. In spite of such protests, the film became one of the most successful Indian films and its remakes ‘Premapasam' (Tamil-1956) and ‘Bale Ramudu' (Telugu-1956) were also hits.

The German film ‘Pick Pocket' (1959), directed by Robert Bresson, exhibited with English sub-titles was also popular in the country. Prompted by the success of these films, Sunderlal Nahata decided to produce a Malayalam movie with a similar story. The film had Prem Nazir in the lead.

Directed by M. Krishnan Nair, the script and dialogues written by Thoppil Bhasi, was the high point of the film. Editing by Prakasham, camera by B. J. Mohan and music composed by M. S. Baburaj were the other attractions of the film.

A rich landlord, Krishnan Thampi's happy family life takes a strange twist. His elder daughter Lata (Sheela), who is fond of music and dance, was crippled following an accident in her childhood caused by Shekhar, the son of Thampi's manager, Gopala Panikker. Shekhar is beaten up by Thampi and thrown into the nearby river. Thampi is sentenced to life on charges of murder. Thampi's wealth is appropriated by Panikker, leaving Lata and her sister Rema struggle for their livelihood. Years roll on.

Thampi befriends Ramadas (Prem Nazir), another prisoner in jail. Thampi sends a letter to Lata through Ramdas who he released. Ramdas introduces himself to Lata as an insurance agent. He rents a portion of Lata's house and they fall in love. Ramdas steals a diamond necklace from Panikker's house and gifts it to Lata. Meanwhile, a well-wisher arranges for the surgery and treatment of Lata's leg. She is cured.

Rema is arrested by the police for being in possession of the necklace. Lata tells the police that the necklace was gifted to her by Ramdas. The police then reveal the real identity of Ramdas and he absconds. Thampi is released from jail. He reaches the theatre where Lata's dance programme is on; Ramdas also reaches the venue. The police, who are tracking Ramdas, try to apprehend him. Ramdas is injured in the firing that ensues. Panikker identifies Ramdas as his son Shekhar from the scar he sees on his injured hand. Lata marries Ramdas.

The Malayalam remake was not as successful as the other versions. The producers adopted a new promotional technique. A dance sequence by Sheela which was removed by the Censor Board was included a few days after the release of the film.

The seven songs, written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to tune by M S Baburaj, turned hits. The romantic number by K. J. Yesudas, ‘Manaswini manaswini ninte manasaveenayil…' was the most popular of them. The other hits include ‘Pon malayorathu…', ‘Aayiram chirakulla…', ‘Kunju kunju naalilenikkoru…' (P. Susheela), ‘Sakhi sakhi ninne kaanaan...' (Yesudas) and a comic number by A. L. Raghavan, ‘Polish polish Kochiyilum kittum…'

Will be remembered: For the good music, especially for the song ‘Manaswini manaswini…' and as the first Malayalam film that included an additional scene after the release.

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