Manavaatti , which released on April 10, 1964, is one of the best musical hits of the Vayalar-Devarajan combination. The social film with a Christian background was planned as an ‘Easter release’, but due to some technical reasons the release was delayed. Social stories with the heroine as the central character who sacrifices her life for the people around her have been a favourite especially in Malayalam and other South Indian languages. Manavaatti also followed this theme.
Produced by Raju M. Mathen under the banner of Thankam Movies and directed by K.S. Sethumadhavan, the film was shot at Newton Studios. The movie also benefited from the art direction by P. N. Menon, cinematography by Ramaswami and editing by N. Poklalath.
Popular stars like Sathyan, Madhu, S.P. Pillai, Ragini and K.R. Vijaya were included in the star list.
This was one of the early films with the settlers in the mountain ranges of Kerala serving as background and the film followed the slang used by the Christian families in such regions.
Susy (Ragini) is an inmate of a convent. She is sent to a remote village with an assignment to take care of a patient, Babu (Madhu) who is suffering from an acute disease. Babu’s brother Jose (Satyan) is abroad for his higher studies. His wife Sheela (K.R. Vijaya), Babu’s mother (Aranmula Ponnamma), and Joymon (Baby Vinodini), his sister’s son who lost his parents in an accident are the other members in the family.
Babu who was a pessimist because of his heart ailment, regains confidence in life due to the love, care and dedicated attention given by Susy. Kind-hearted Susy became beloved to the family, while Babu’s health improved and the young man fell in love with Susy. The peace, happiness and harmony in the family were turned upside down when Jose came back after his studies abroad. Susy was once his lover and it was with her support that he was able to go abroad. Susy had mortgaged her house to raise money for her lover.
Jose was forced by his parents to marry Sheela, who was from a rich family. Susy was not aware that Babu was the brother of her lover who had betrayed her. Jose repented on his past and lost his peace of mind with Susy around him.
Sheela came to know about her husband’s love affair. The family atmosphere became tense and incidents that caused emotional setbacks followed. On the other hand Babu wished to marry Susy, but at first she was not able to think of marrying him as he was the brother of her former lover.
Babu’s health worsened on Susy’s reluctance to accept his proposal to marry her. Persuaded and compelled by all others in the family, Susy agreed to marry Babu. Arrangements for their marriage progressed. Doctors advised heart surgery for Babu and he recovered from disease.
Fate was cruel towards Susy, as the doctors advised against Babu having a family, and hence the wedding did not take place. Susy returns to the convent and the emotional drama concludes with an unhappy ending.
Ragini excelled in her role and impressed the audience. Hilarious comedy scenes involving S. P. Pillai, Bahadur and Adoor Pankajam were appreciated by the audience.
Eight songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and composed by Devarajan became all time hits. Idaya Kanyake Povuka Nee …. (K. J. Yesudas) later became the opening number of stage programmes of the playback singer. The romantic duet Ashtamudi kaayalile …… (Yesudas-Leela), Devathaaru pootha naaloru …. (A. M. Raja), Neela Varna Kanpeelikal … (P. Susheela) also became instant hits. Other hits include Parakkum Thalikayil …. (Susheela), Muthassi katha paranjurakkaam … (Susheela), Kaattile kuyilin koottil …. (Renuka), and Chummathiri Aliya … (A.L. Raghavan).
Will be remembered: As a good social film which was a box office hit too. Excellent music.