Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poochakkanni (1966)

PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMAPublicity material of the film Poochakkanni
PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA - Publicity material of the film Poochakkanni

Though psychological thrillers were common in various Indian language cinema, family dramas with a psychological theme were rare. After the success of his social movies like ‘School Master' (1964) and ‘Chettathi' (1965) , renowned Kannada director Puttanna Kanagal (S. R. Puttanna in Malayalam) came up with the first psychological-social film in Malayalam, ‘Poochakkanni' (1966). The film was a huge hit.

Films with this combination of themes were made in Tamil, like ‘Amara Deepam' (1956), ‘Asai Mukam' (1960), ‘Naan Vanangum Deivam' (1953), ‘Kai Kodutha Deivam' (1964) etc. The success of these films might have prompted producer V.Arunachalam to put his money into ‘Poochakkanni.' This film had a novel theme, a morbid fear of cats or ailurophobia.
Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Prem Nazir, Vijaya Nirmala, Ambika, Meena donned important roles. Kalavathi, who was seen in minor roles till then was cast into a key role and came up with an impressive performance.

Sreedharan Nair (Thikkurissi), a bank officer, remarries after the death of his first wife Gowri (Ambika). He did this as he wanted someone to look after his eight-year-old daughter Geetha.
Their neighbour, Meena considered Geetha as her own daughter. Meena's son, Murali was almost the same age of Geetha. Nair's second wife Vanaja (Kalavathi) disliked Geetha. The girl was ill treated by her step-mother. Geetha's only consolation was Meena. But Meena gets a job transfer and leaves. Geetha feels lost and lonely.

One way Vanaja used to frighten Geetha was by using her green, cat-like eyes. This has a disastrous effect on Geetha.

Time and years roll on. Now Geetha (Vijaya Nirmala) has grown up but her behaviour and actions remain that of an eight-year-old. Nair tries everything including religious rituals to help his daughter recover from this shocking mental state.

Meena returns with her grown-up son Murali (Prem Nazir) who is a doctor now. Under Murali's treatment Geetha begins to show improvement. She finally recovers from her psychic ailment. Vanaja repents for her cruel actions. She even prises out her ‘cat eyes' that had caused so much fear and anguish for Geetha. Murali weds Geetha bringing the film to a happy ending
Vijaya Nirmala excelled in her role of the psychic patient. Kalavathi as ‘Poochakkanni' (cat-eyed woman) also impressed.

Seven songs, written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to tune by M. S. Baburaj were instant hits. ‘Geethey hrudayasakhi Geethey…' ( P. B. Sreenivas), ‘Kakka kondu kadalmannu kondu…' ( Sreenivas- B. Vasantha) and ‘Mural Murali…' (P. Susheela) were the most popular. Other hits included, “Maramaaya maramokke…' ( S. Janaki and chorus), ‘Kurinji poovey…' (L. R.Easwari), and ‘Pandoru rajyathoru…' (Janaki).
Will be remembered: As the first psychological film in Malayalam and for its excellent music.

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