Muttathu Varkey was one of the most famous purveyors of a genre of sentiment-driven pulp fiction known as ‘painkili’ literature in local parlance. This became a staple source for the work of Malayalam film producers and directors like P. Subramaniam, Kunchacko, M. Krishnan Nair, P. A. Thomas and others. Films likePaadatha Painkili (1957), Mariyakutty (1958) etc produced and directed by P Subramaniam were based on the novels of the same title written by Muttathu Varkey. The term ‘painkili’ was coined after the unusual success of the novel PaadathaPainkili and its film version. Kanam E .J. was another Malayalam novelist who promoted the ‘painkili’ writings.
In 1965 Kunchacko produced and directed the family melodrama Inapravukal, based on a novel by the same title under this genre written by Muttathu Varkey. First published in 1953, the novel was a bestseller and was reprinted several times. The film version had unusual success at the box office.
Kunchacko introduced Sarada, Malayalam cinema’s ‘dukha puthri’ (sorrowful daughter) in this film. Her name was included in the title cards as ‘Rahel', the name of the heroine’s character which she essayed. With her impressive performance as a tragic character, she proved her talent in handling such roles in her debut film in Malayalam.
Other popular artistes who acted in the film were Satyan, Prem Nazir, Muthiah, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair, S. P. Pillai, Pankajavalli besides others. The film was shot at Udaya Studios. Muttathu Varkey was known for using the dialect of Christians from different parts of Kerala, and the dialogues forInapravukal were written by him and were an added attraction of the film.
The plot of the film was set in a remote village in Kerala and the story pivoted around three Christian families. The music composed by Dakshinamoorthy was excellent. The film was released a week before Easter in 1965. In this remote village people lived peacefully, loving each other and following the teachings of Bible. The village ferryman Kochappi (Muthiah) and Kuncheria (Kottarakara) are the proverbial ‘good neighbours’ as described in the Bible. Kuncheria is a bullock cart owner and transports goods and passengers to nearby places.
Kochappi’s son Anthony (Satyan) and Kuncheria’s daughter Rahel (Sarada) are childhood sweethearts. Their parents approve of their love wholeheartedly and decide to get them married. Chandy (Thikkurissi), a landlord, is the only rich man in the village. Chandy’s son Rajan (Prem Nazir) returns to the village after completing his higher education abroad. Rajan impresses the villagers by his simplicity and broad-mindedness. Rajan takes a fancy to Rahel and expresses his desire to marry her to his parents. He is unaware of the fact that Rahel’s marriage has been fixed. Chandy is reluctant about the marriage because Rahel’s father is a bullock cart driver. However, he agrees to his beloved son’s wishes. Rahel’s greedy parents conveniently forget their promise to get her married to Anthony. They decide to get her married to Rajan. The thorny fence of separation springs up between the two houses and the minds of the once ‘good neighbours’. Anthony goes to Malabar without telling anybody and gets a job there with the help of his friend Kutty (S. P. Pillai) who had left the village long ago and settled there.
Arrangements for Rahel’s marriage with Rajan progress. Anthony sends a letter to Rahel expressing his sorrow and grief. The poor, miserable girl cannot stand up against her parents’ decision. In the meanwhile Anthony falls grievously ill.
Neglecting his ill health, Anthony travels back to his village where he breathes his last upon reaching there. As his funeral procession heads to the graveyard, Rahel’s marriage is being solemnised. Suddenly Rahel, unable to bear her grief, faints. A few days later Rahel dies.
Her body is also buried in the same graveyard near Anthony’s tomb. The ‘inapravukal’ (couple of doves) who were unable to unite in this greedy and cruel world, unite in death. Their souls unite in the other world. A sad end to a highly emotional family drama. As heroine, Sarada excelled in her performance. As tragic hero Satyan, and as the romantic young man Prem Nazir also impressed the audience.
Songs written by Vayalar and tuned by Dakshinamoorthy became hits. The instant hits were Kaakka Thampuratty …….(Yesudas), Akkarakkundo Akkarakkundo …… (A.M Raja), Kuruthola Perunnalinu …..
(Yesudas, Suseela), Virinjathenthinu Virinjathenthinu ….(Suseela) and Ithiripoovalan Annarkanna ….. (Leela & chorus). Other hits include Karivala Karivala Kuppivala …..(P.B. Sreenivas, Leela), Pathu Para Vithu …..(C. O. Anto, A. M. Raja, L. R. Easwari chorus).
Will be remembered : Debut Malayalam film of Sarada and excellent music.