Released on March 2, 1979, Sharapanjaram was a box office hit. The story of this film was written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan. Dialogues written by popular playwright K.T. Mohammed were impressive. Written and directed by Hariharan and produced by G.P. Balan under the banner of G.P. Films, the film was shot at Satya, Vahini and Arunachalam Studios. Cinematography by Mehli Irani, especially the outdoor scenes shot in beautiful landscapes of tea and coffee estates, impressed the audience. The music composed by G. Devarajan was the highlight of the film, which was edited by V.P. Krishnan.
The story line of the film closely resembles the controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover written by D.H. Lawrence in 1928. The novel was banned by several countries including Britain, and the ban on the novel is still in force in India though other countries have lifted the ban.
Popular artists like Jayan, Sathar, Nellikodu Bhaskaran, P.K. Abraham and Sheela essayed the important roles. Popular star Shanker appeared in a guest role. The dances were choreographed by E. Madhavan.
Flashbacks were put to use in narrating the story. Saudamini (Sheela) is married to a rich planter (P. K. Abraham) who becomes a heart patient shortly after Saudamini gives birth to their daughter Baby (Baby Sumathi and Priya). Saudamini’s husband becomes impotent due to the disease and though life becomes dull for her, Saudamini nurses her husband and the family live together, happily.
Chandrasekharan (Jayan), is appointed by Saudamini’s husband to train his newly bought horse. Saudamini is fascinated by Chandrasekharan. Taking advantage of the situation, one day Chandrasekharan seduces Saudamini.
At the same time Saudamini’s husband succumbs to a massive heart attack. Baby (Baby Sumathi) who was searching for her mother happens to see Saudamini with Chandrasekharan. Saudamini then marries Chandrasekharan but Baby develops a hatred towards her mother, believing that Saudamini’s neglect of her father resulted in his death.
A grown up Baby (Priya) leads a wayward life in her college hostel. She goes to clubs and parties, consumes alcohol and gets dismissed from the college. Baby returns home. Saudamini’s attempts to get Baby married also do not succeed. Prabhakaran (Sathar), son of a faithful servant Siddhayyan (Nellikodu Bhaskaran), who was dismissed by Chandrasekharan, is appointed as a driver by Saudamini. Baby falls in love with Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran succeeds in bringing Baby to a righteous path.
Saudamini repents her marriage with Chandrasekharan when she comes to know his real character.
After his marriage with Saudamini he turns more depraved. Chandrasekharan mismanages the estates and swindles away their wealth. He turns against Prabhakaran, murdering him and throwing his corpse from a hilltop.
Baby comes to Chandrasekharan to enquire about her lover. Chandrasekharan attempts to rape Baby, but Saudamini arrives and shoots Chandrasekharan to death, bringing the action-packed family drama to a tragic end.
Nellikodu Bhaskaran won the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Supporting Actor. Jayan and Sheela impressed in their key roles.
Jayan exuded machismo in his role of the gamekeeper and the scene in which he grooms the horse became a sensation. The comic scenes involving Oduvil Unnikrishnan provided moments of laughter.
Songs written by Yusuf Ali Kecheri and set to tune by Devarajan became popular. Instant hits were the Harikhamboji Raga based Saraswatha madhuventhum… (Vani Jairam) and Ambalakulathile aambal poley…’ (K.J. Yesudas). Other hits include Malarintemanamulla rathri… (P. Madhuri), Shrungara virunnorukki… ( P. Susheela) and Theyyaka thheyya thaalam…. (P. Jayachandran-Madhuri).
Will be remembered:
For Jayan’s performance, the music and the State award for the Best Supporting Actor for Nellikodu Bhaskaran.