Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kanyakumari (1974)

M.T. Vasudevan Nair usually wrote the script and dialogues for his own published stories. One story that he wrote specifically for a film was that ofKanyakumari. The film, released on July 26, 1974, was Kamal Haasan’s first film as hero. This was also the Malayalam debut of noted Bengali actress Rita Bhaduri. Produced by KSR Moorthy for Chithranjali Films, the entire film was shot at Kanyakumari, the temple there and its surroundings. Directed by K.S. Sethumadhavan, the film went on to become a box office hit. Cinematography by P.L. Roy who captured the natural beauty of Kanyakumari and the soulful music of M.B. Sreenivasan were was the highpoints of the film

Prem Nawaz, Sankaradi, Murali Das, Veeran, Manimala, Pala Thankam, Jagathi Sreekumar and Mallika (in guest roles) were some of the other actors who were part of this film.

The story pivots around the love affair of Sankaran (Kamal Haasan), a sculptor, who comes to Kanyakumari to work under a contractor and a group of tourists who reach the place. Sankaran falls in love with a poor vendor of necklaces made of sea shells, Parvathi (Rita Bhaduri). An orphan, Parvathi is brought up by Kannamma (Pala Thankam), her maternal grandmother. Veerappan (Govindankutty), the foster son of Kannamma, keeps tormenting Parvathi, destroying the necklaces she makes. Sankaran decides to marry Parvathi once his work is complete. He hopes to leave Kanyakumari with Parvathi. In the meanwhile, Veerappan attempts to ‘sell’ Parvathi to Frederick (Murali Das), a depraved sportsman camping at the guest house on the beach. Parvathi manages to escape this attempt.

Jayan (Prem Nawaz), son of a rich businessman, comes to Kanyakumari seeking solace. He happens to meet his lover Rajani (Manimala), now wife of Somasundaram (Veeran), a wealthy businessman. It was this broken love affair that turned Jayan into a wreck. Rajani was forced to marry the old businessman man to save her family from a financial crisis.

The immoral relationship between Frederick and the young wife of a North Indian businessman (Sankaradi) forms the sub-plot of the film. Jayan who happens to see this is threatened by Frederick and is warned not to interfere in his personal matters. Jayan makes friends with Swami (K.G. Menon), an itinerant sanyasi. Both of them take pity on Parvathi and they try to save her Veerappan and Frederick.

Events take a cruel turn. One night, Frederick accosts Parvathi while she was alone on the beach and rapes her. Sankaran who hears her screams rushes to the spot. He hits Frederick with his sculptor’s hammer killing him at once. The film ends Sankaran taken away by the police and Parvathi staring at him with eyes full of tears.

Kamal Haasan and Rita Bhaduri impressed with their natural style of acting. Alummoodan, as a waiter in the guest house, created moments of laughter.

The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to music by M.B. Sreenivasan (MBS) like Chandra palunku manimala…. (K.J. Yesudas-S.Janaki), the English song that has lyrics by MBS, I am in love… (Usha Uthup) and Ayiramkannulla Mariyamma… (Yesudas-P.Leela-L.R.Easwari and chorus) turned very popular.

Will be remembered: As the first film of Kamal Haasan as hero, as the debut Malayalam film of Rita Bhaduri and for the song Chandra palunku manimala

MInnaminungu (1957)

  • Minnaminungu, released on May 24, 1957, introduced M.S. Baburaj, the musical genius who popularised Hindustani music through his compositions, to Malayalam cinema. This was also the first independent directorial venture of Ramu Kariat. Playback singer Machad Vasanthi also made her debut in this film.
    Produced by Ramu Kariat, jointly with Sreenivasan, under the banner of Chithra Keralam, the film was shot at Premiere Studios, Mysore. The impressive dialogues were by KSK Thalikulam for a story developed by Ramu Kariat along with Rafi.
    The film dealt with a novel theme of inadequacy and corruption in the medical sector, which was prevalent in the remote villages of Kerala. Hindi films like Franz Osten’s Durga (1939) and Subodh Mithra’s Doctor (1941) had looked at this subject with fair success earlier. But Minnaminungu was not a commercial success. Film critics attribute the reason for failure to relatively unknown star cast of the film. The film was however noted for its sensible direction, K.V. Padmanabhan’s editing and cinematography by B.J. Reddy.
    Eddy, Vasudev Cheruvari, Damayanthi, Mary Eddy, Padmam Menon were new. They were supported in guest roles by the more experienced actors such as Santhadevi, Premji and Manavalan Joseph.
    The story pivots around a dispensary in a remote village. The greedy and corrupt doctor (Vasudev Cheruvari) in charge of the dispensary refuses to give proper medical care to Ammini’s (Damayanthi) mother (Santhadevi) and the old woman dies. The reason for this indifference was because Ammini could not pay the money demanded by the doctor. Ammini seeks refuge in the house of her neighbour Mathai (Vakkachan). The doctor is transferred following a complaint from the villagers. Sadanandan (Eddy), the new doctor posted here, is a widower. His mother (Padmam Menon) is unable to manage the household and the doctor struggles hard to bring up his children Babu (Vipin) and Suma (Seetha).
    Mathai’s wife Thandamma (Mary Eddy) asks the doctor to appoint Ammini as a caretaker for his children. He does this and Ammini soon wins the heart of Babu and Suma. Ammini gets seriously wounded and Sadanandan’s prompt medical care cures her. Sadanandan falls in love with Ammini. Rumours are spread about them. Fearing that this would affect the reputation of her son the doctor’s mother dismisses Ammini from her job.
    Babu and Suma are unable to bear this separation. Babu falls ill and Sadanandan’s medical care fails to give him relief. The news of Babu’s pathetic condition reaches Ammini who rushes to the doctor’s house. Her presence and care helps Babu recover. Sadanandan realises the need for a woman in bringing up his children. Ammini becomes part of the family. The film ends with the villagers bidding a tearful farewell to the doctor and his family following a transfer to another village.
    The film reminds us of characters in the novels of Thomas Hardy. The illiterate Sanku Ammavan (Premji) who loves listening to Ramayana reading, his nephew Kunju (Balakrishna Menon) who earns his livelihood by reading the Ramayana, the retired soldier Vasu (Manavalan Joseph) who is always caught in some legal battleare some of the interesting characters.
    The songs written by P. Bhaskaran and set to tune by Baburaj turned hits. Songs like Ithra naal ithra naal ee vasantham…, Enthinu kavilil bashpadhara…(both by Kozhikode Abdul Khader), Oru vattippoo tharenam…., Vaalittu kannezhuthenam…(both by Santha P. Nair), Thapassu cheythu….(H. Mehboob), Thathamme thathamme nee padiyaal… (Machadu Vasanthi-Meena Sulochana) were very popular.
    Will be remembered: As the debut film of music director M.S. Baburaj and playback singer Machad Vasanthi; for the long list of actors like Eddy who went on to appear in guest roles in many films later and as the first independent directorial venture of Ramu Kariat.