Monday, February 27, 2012

CID (1955)

Crime and suspense have been favourite subjects of Indian cinema. Stars in roles of CID (Criminal Investigation Department) officers were very popular quite early in Indian cinema. Ashok Kumar, Devanand, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Joy Mukherji, Biswajit in Hindi; MGR, Sivaji Ganeshan, Krishna, Jayshankar, Rajkumar, Shobhan Babu in South Indian films are just some names who made CID roles memorable.

The silent film ‘Detective Kumar' (1928), directed by Athawale, was the first ‘detective film' in Indian cinema. The Hindi-Marathi bilingual film ‘Geetha' (1940) is considered the first sound film in the suspense-thriller genre. The Tamil film ‘Digambarasamiyar' (1950) was the first in this category from the South, while ‘Avakashi' (1954), produced by Neela Productions, in which, incidentally, the hero was not a CID officer, was the first of this kind in Malayalam.

‘CID' that had popular star Prem Nazir in the lead role was a huge hit. In fact, Prem Nazir went on to play such characters in several films and even had a film titled ‘CID Nazir' (1971).

‘CID' was the debut film of director M. Krishnan Nair.

Sudhakaran Nair (Prem Nazir), a CID officer is assigned with the tough and adventurous task of suppressing a gang of thieves. Rudrapalan (Muttathara Soman) is the chief of the gang and he gets support from Vallabhan (Kottarakkara). Vallabhan is the estate manager of Mukunda Menon, a rich planter (Jose Prakash). Vallabhan's wicked eye is on the wealth of Menon and his only daughter Vasanthi (Miss Kumari), a college student in a faraway town. Vallabhan kills Mukunda Menon and the crime is falsely framed on the gang of thieves.

On her train journey back home Vasanthi meets Sudhakaran and falls in love with him. Vallabhan influences Pankajam (Adoor Pankajam), the servant of Menon and makes her tell Vasanthi that her father wanted her to marry Vallabhan. Vasanthi decides to sacrifice her love for Sudhakaran and fulfil her father's last wish.

The investigation of Menon's murder is assigned to Sudhakaran. Rudrapalan's adopted daughter Valsala (Kumari Thankam) and her aide Pichu (S. P. Pillai) are arrested by the police while attempting to cheat people. Rudrapalan's men decide to target Sudhakaran and reach Vasanthi's house in search of him. Vasanthi, who runs away at the sight of the thieves reaches Vallabhan's house. Here she is shocked to see her faithful servant Pankajam. Vasanthi realises the true character of Vallabhan.

Vallabhan attempts to kill Pankajam, but she escapes. She informs Sudhakaran about the murder of Menon. In the meanwhile, Valsala and Pichu escape from the police custody with the support of Vallabhan and his men. Valsala falls in love with Vallabhan.

Vasanthi is kidnapped and brought to Rudrapalan's camp. Sudhakaran follows them. ‘Orderly Vava' (S. P. Pillai, in his second role), assistant to Sudhakaran, enters the secret camp in the guise of Pichu. Vallabhan kills Valsala and Rudrapalan when he comes to know that they are plotting against him. Vallabhan and the thieves are arrested. Vasanthi marries Sudhakaran.

The film had nine songs written by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair and tuned by Brother Lakshmanan. ‘Kaimuthal vediyathe…,' ‘Nillu nillu chollu chollu…' (P. B. Sreenivas ), ‘Kaanum kanninu punyam nalkum…,' ‘Kaananam veendum thalirthu…' (P. Leela), ‘Kaliyallayee kalyana bhavana…,' (Kamukara Purushotaman- Leela), ‘Varuvin varuvin …' (Sarojini) were the most popular.

Will be remembered: As the debut film of M. Krishnan Nair. And as the first Malayalam film in the ‘detective' genre.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kaattumaina 1963

Indian films with the jungle as backdrop were inspired by Hollywood. Films like the adventures of Tarzan, a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, were very popular.

‘Jungle movies' in India started with the silent movie ‘ King of Forest' (1926), produced by Royal Arts, with Jilloobai and Udwadia in lead roles. The Tamil film ‘Vanaraja Karzan' (1938) produced by Wadia Movietone jointly with Madras United Artists Corporation was the first film in this genre from the South. ‘Vanamala' (1951), the first jungle movie in Malayalam was followed by another one in this series, ‘Aana Valarthiya Vanambadi' (1961) produced and directed by P. Subramaniam under the banner of Neela Productions.

The unusual success of this Malayalam-Tamil bilingual film prompted Neela Productions to make ‘ Kaattumaina' in 1963.

The film was a huge hit. The Tamil version of the film, with the same title, was also a success. Shot at Merryland Studios and some forest locations in Kerala, the film was directed by P. Subramaniam..

Popular artists like Prem Nazir, S. P. Pillai, Jose Prakash, S. P. Pillai, Santhi, Sheela etc. starred in the film. C. L. Anandan, who became a star in South Indian cinema with his performances in Tamil films ‘Vijayapuri Veeran' (1960) and ‘Veerathirumakan' (1962), played the main role in the film. A master in wrestling and martial arts, Anandan impressed in his debut Malayalam film. An elephant, named Velayudhan, that featured in the film also proved a hit. The music composed by Brother Lakshmanan was excellent.

The story revolves around the tribal groups who inhabit two mountain ranges, Thenmala and Vanmala. They live peacefully under the rule and order of their chiefs. Maina (Santhi) is the adopted daughter of the Thenmala chief. She is in love with Veeran (Anandan), son of the Vanmala chief.

Neeli (Sheela), niece of the Vanmala chief, and Maina are good friends. The peaceful life here ends when dispute arises between the tribals.

Veeran and Maina meet each other secretly despite orders not to meet. Maina and Neeli also manage to retain their friendship. Prabhakaran (Prem Nazir), a young geologist, and his assistant Kadan Narapillai (S. P. Pillai) reach the mountain ranges in their search for mica deposits along the mountain ranges. Prabhakaran and Narapillai happen to save the life of the Thenmala priest from an accident. They become guests of Thenmala.

Maina supports Prabhakaran in his exploration and becomes attached to him like her brother. Prabhakaran is saved from an accident by Neeli. And they fall in love.

The Vanmala chief keeps Prabhakaran and Narapillai in prison when he comes to know that they are guests of their enemy. Veeran frees Prabhakaran at the request of Maina. Neeli is suspected for this and she is held captive by Vanmala. Veeran begins to suspect Maina's relationship with Prabhakaran.

Misunderstandings are cleared when Maina is identified by Prabhakaran as his own sister, separated in childhood. Prabhakaran finds rich mica deposits in the some caves of Vanmala. Neeli and Maina are married to Prabhakaran and Veeran respectively.

The enmity between the two groups melts and they unite.

The songs written by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair were tuned by Brother Lakshmanan. Some of them became very popular like, ‘Malamukalil maamarathil…' (Kamukara Purushothaman), ‘Vaa vaa vaa vaa vanarajavey…' (K. P. Udayabhanu-P.Susheela), ‘Kaattikurinji kaattikurinji…' (Susheela), ‘ Paadaan chundu vidarthiyathey …' (P. Leela) are some of the hits. The other songs include ‘Naanathal paathi virinja (Kamukara-Gracy), ‘Mayappetti undu…' (Mehaboob), and ‘Kazhuthil chippi undu…' (Leela-Renuka).

Will be remembered: As the Malayalam debut of actor C. L. Anandan, for its excellent music, immortal songs and as a successful ‘jungle movie.'