Monday, December 22, 2014

Kaattupookkal (1965)

  • MELODRAMAA scene from the film Kattupookkal
    MELODRAMAA scene from the film Kattupookkal
Popular Tamil actress Devika was introduced to Malayalam cinema through Kaattupookkal , released on March 9, 1965. The film was produced and directed by K Thankappan, the popular South Indian dance director for Giri Movies. Jayanthi and Sujatha were the other actresses introduced through this film. Noted novelist Ponkunnam Varkey wrote script and dialogues for a story developed by the crew of Giri Movies.

Madhu, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Kottayam Chellappan, O.Madhavan, Adoor Bhasi, Adoor Pankajam, Philomina were some of those who essayed important roles.

Doctor Johny (Madhu) qualifies for a scholarship for higher studies abroad. His mother Theyyamma (Philomina) decides to conduct his marriage with Mary (Jayanthi), the elder daughter of Lonachan (O.Madhavan). Their betrothal takes place. Before the wedding Theyyamma comes to know that Mary is not Lonachan’s own daughter, but an orphan brought up by him. His own daughter is the younger one, Annie (Devika). Johny’s marriage with Mary is cancelled. Mary commits suicide out of shame and disappointment. The mental shock makes Lonachan sick and bedridden. Annie goes to the nearby town to attend an interview for a job. Lonachan dies when Annie was out of town.

Annie stayed at a convent where she meets an inmate Venu (Master Suresh). She takes pity for this disabled boy and takes him home with her. Annie becomes amma (mother) for him. She starts an orphanage in her house and called it Kaattupookkal . Annie’s uncle Thomachan (Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair) tries to marry off Annie with Thommikunju (Manavalan Joseph). But Annie refuses. Thomachan has an illicit relationship with Annamma (Sujatha), a servant in the orphanage and she becomes pregnant. Thomachan disowns her and Annamma leaves the place.

Johny returns home. He supports Annie’s orphanage. They fall in love. Once, while travelling together their car meets with an accident. Annie loses her eyesight. Johny takes her to Madras for a surgery. The operation is successful. At the hospital Annie meets Annamma. Annamma dies after giving birth to a child. Annie and Johny return home with Annamma’s new born baby.

Thomachan spreads rumours about Johny and Annie even saying that the child is theirs. Theyyamma curses Annie for spoiling the life of her son. Unable to withstand the false charges against her Annie commits suicide. Annamma’s brother (Nellikodu Bhaskaran) unfolds Thommachan’s cruelty. The film ends with the scene that shows Venu, accompanied by Johny, paying homage to Annie at her tomb.
The songs written by ONV Kurup were set to tune by Devarajan. Some of them like Manikya veenayumaayen… (K.J. Yesudas), Athappo chithirappooo … (P.Susheela), Deepam kaattuka neelaakasamey … (Susheela, Gomathi, L.R. Anjali), Kaattupookkal njangal …(P.Leela-chorus) andPuzhavakkil pullanimettil … (G. Devarajan, Leela, Anjali and chorus) are still popular.
Will be remembered : As the debut Malayalam film of Devika, Jayanthi and Sujatha, as the first film produced and directed by K. Thankappan, and for the music, especially for the memorable songMaanikya veenayumaayen …

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Swami Ayyappan (1975)

A scene from 'Swami Ayyappan'
Special Arrangement
A scene from 'Swami Ayyappan'
The first film on a temple in Kerala was made in Tamil, K. Subramaniam’sAnanthasayanam (1942) that told the story of Lord Padmanabha, the presiding deity of the famous Padmanabhaswami Temple, in the erstwhile Travancore.
Sreeramulu Naidu’s Sabarimala Ayyappan (1961) was the first Malayalam film on the famous hill temple probably the first in the language on a Kerala temple. Producer and director P. Subramaniam, popular for his big-budget mythological films, some of them on the stories of temples, went on to make films in this genre like Sree Guruvayoorappan (1972) and Devi Kanyakumari (1974).
Swami Ayyappan, released on August 17, 1975, was produced by Subramaniam Religious Trust and shot at Merryland Studios and around the Sabarimala Temple. Directed by P Subramaniam, the dialogues were by Sreekumaran Thampi.
The film went on to win State awards in various categories like Best Cinematography (Masthan), Best Lyricist (Vayalar Rama Varma), Best Child Actor (Master Raghu) and Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value.
Subramaniam donated the proceeds from this super-hit film to the development of Sabarimala and to improve the facilities for pilgrims there.
Produced simultaneously in Malayalam and Tamil, popular stars from both languages were included in the star cast. Master Shekhar, Gemini Ganeshan, AVM Rajan, K. Balaji, V.K. Ramaswami, Manohar and others from Tamil, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, P.K. Abraham, Hari, S.P. Pillai, Bahadur, Sreevidya, Unni Mary, Rani Chandra and others from Malayalam were part of this film.
The film was later dubbed in to other South Indian languages.
The myth behind the Sabarimala Temple is narrated to pilgrims assembled to witness theMakaravilakku by a devotee (Kedamangalam Sadanandan). The popular stories are shown in a flashback. Manikantan’s birth, adoption by the king of Pandalam, slaying of the demoness Mahishi by Manikantan, expedition to the jungle to get tiger’s milk to treat his mother, are all narrated with effective use of special effects.
Master Shekhar impressed in his role as Manikantan (Lord Ayyappa). Gemini Ganeshan (King of Pandalam), Sreevidya (Queen), P.K. Abraham (crooked minister), Balaji (Vavar), Thikkurissi (Manikantan’s Guru), Hari (Narada), AVM Rajan (Lord Shiva), Unni Mary (Mahishi), Lakshmi (Mohini) did justice to their roles.
The film opens with a song sequence with a visual of the pilgrims trekking the hills to the Sabarimala Temple.
After narrating the myths the film goes on to record some of the miracles that happened in the lives of some devotees.
The old and weak Sanku Pillai (S.P. Pillai) who is helped by a divine power to climb the mountain and complete his pilgrimage, Prabhakaran (Raghavan), a military officer, who, on his way home to begin his pilgrimage to the temple, is saved from a road accident, a little girl (Baby Sumathi), who, while travelling with her father (Vanchiyoor Madhavan Nair), to the temple is saved from a poisonous snake, the atheist Sankaralingam Mudaliyar (V.K. Ramaswami) of Madurai who is cured of his stomach ailment by the sacred ash from the temple are some of the side stories that make up the film.
A musical hit, the songs tuned by G. Devarajan turned huge hits.
Lyrics were by Vayalar Rama Varma and Sreekumaran Thampi. Harivarasanam…. (K.J. Yesudas) written by Kambakkudi Kulathoor Sreenivasa Iyer, composed in Madhyamavathi by Devarajan for this film, has now become part of the regular temple routine. This version is today sung when the temple is closed for the day. Paalazhi kadanjeduthoru….(P. Madhuri), Thedi varum kannukalil… (Ambili),Mannilum vinnilum… (Yesudas-Chorus), Kailasa shailadi natha,…(Sreekanth- P. Leela),Sabarimalayil thanka sooryodayam… (Yesudas), Swami saranam…(P. Jayachandran-Chorus) and the comic number Thummiyal therikkunna… (Jayachandran-Chorus) are all popular even today.
Will be remembered: As a good mythological film, for the many State awards the film won, and for the music.

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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chuzhi (1973)

Actress Savithri

Actress Savithri

Savithri, Sujatha, Salam, Govindankutty, Bahadur, Nilambur Balan, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Abbas etc.

Released on December 7, 1973, Chuzhi is the only Malayalam film in which the popular South Indian actress Savithri acted. She was, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Nadikaiyar Tilakam(supreme actress) who ruled Tamil and Telugu cinema during 1950s and 1960s. Produced jointly by Hussain and Salam under the banner of ‘Navadhara’, the film was directed by Triprayar Sukumaran. Shot at Newton and Syamala studios, the outdoor scenes were filmed at the tea estates of Kalpetta in Wayanad. The dialogues were by Salam Karaasserry based on the script developed by N. P. Mohammed based on a story written by S.G. Bhasker. With cinematography by Moorthy and editing by Ravi, this was one of the early films in South Indian languages that was issued an ‘A’ certificate (entry restricted to only adults) by the Film Censor Board.
Besides Savithri, Sujatha, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Govindankutty, Bahadur, Nilambur Balan and others played important roles in the film. The music composed by M.S. Baburaj was the highpoint of the film. The film opens with the lines that this is the ‘story of a family shattered by alcoholism’. And the film ends with the Biblical lines ‘the wages of sin is death’. The story develops connecting these two thoughts.
Savithri, the central character, is alcoholic. There were similar characters in other Indian films like Sahib, Bibi Aur Gulam (Hindi, 1962) in which the character Choti Bahu (Meena Kumari) is an alcoholic. Savithri failed to impress in this role and the film bombed at the box office.

Varghese (Govindankutty) is a planter and lives with his wife Elizabeth (Savithri) and daughter Beena (Sujatha) in the tea estates owned by him. Varghese takes to the bottle following the death of his son. He also entices his wife into this habit and soon Elizabeth becomes an alcoholic.
Varghese dies and Elizabeth appoints Baby (Salam), son of her faithful servant Antony (Abbas), as the manager of their tea estates. Baby and Beena are classmates. Baby is a debauch, but Beena, who falls in love with him, is confident of changing him.

Elizabeth goes from bad to worse. In a drunken stupor she even gets into a physical relationship with Baby and becomes pregnant.

Beena comes to know of this. Out of shame and repentance, Elizabeth commits suicide. Beena rushes, revolver in hand, to shoot Baby. But even before she could do so Baby kills himself. Beena becomes a nun.
The songs written by Poovachal Khader and P.A. Kassim, with music by Baburaj became popular. Songs like Kandu randu kannu…(H. Mehboob and chorus), Hrudayathil nirayunna mizhineeraal… (S. Janaki) and Akkaldamayil papam periya… (K.J. Yesudas) and the parody song Oru chilli kaasumenikku… (Baburaj) were instant hits. The parody was a rare instance of the composer singing his own tunes from his earlier films.

Will be remembered: The only Malayalam film in which Savithri acted and for the music, especially the songs Kandu randu kannu…and Hrudayathil nirayunna

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gaanalokaveethikalil -- AKLA Most Favorite Program of the last 25 years

On Sep 28th, 2014, there was a function organized by All Kerala Listeners Association at Govt Guest House , Kakkanad.  The programme was in connection with Silver Jubilee of Kochi FM station.  

According to the survey of Listeners Association Ganalokaveethikalil, the landmark movie and music program by B Vijayakumar and team ranked as the best music based and popular programme broadcast by the station during the 25 years. 

B Vijayakumar was invited for the function and honored  and given a Momento.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Poojapushpam - Sivakumar's only Malayalam Movie ?

In the book titled, Sivakumar - 100, found a poster for the movie Poojapushpam with Sivakumar's picture on it (For those of you who do not know Sivakumar, he is dad of present day super starts Surya and Karthi)

For those of you who cannot read Tamil, here goes the translation.

Sarada Pictures "Pooja Puspam", Malayalam 18/07/1969

Producer: KS Annammal
Direction: Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair

We are still trying to validate the authenticity of this information. If you have watched this movie, please let us know

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yaar Manamakan

There is some misunderstanding regarding the Tamil version of this film Poothaali.  But now, I could confirm that the Tamil version was not dubbed one, but remake.  found this advertisement in Pesum Padam September, 1961 issue 

Tamil  film:

"Yaar Manamakan"   Neela Productions 

Stars - T K Balachandran,  V K Ramaswami,  D Balasubramaniam,  Kallapart Natarajan,  C S Pandian,  Sayiram,  Bagadur,  Kumari,  Santhi,. C K Saraswathi,  S D Subbulakshmi,  Tilakam Rajakumari,  etc

Direction - P Subramaniam

Music - Brother Lakshmanan  Studio - Merryland  Dialogues - Ilangovan 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kadalamma (1963)

Adventurous fantasy tales from literature were a favourite subject of Indian cinema. Most of the film production companies set up their own ‘Story Department’ and in Malayalam cinema, established companies like Udaya Studios and Neela Productions had such departments. Tales of Vikramaditya, Arabian Nights , and the collection of stories Kasi Majhili Kathalu in Telugu written by Madhira Subbanna Deekshitulu in 19th century were a treasure trove of material for these story departments. Stories of Malayalam films like Manthravadi (1956),Devasundari (1957) Pathaala BhairaviGulebakavaliwere developed from the said folk literature and they were successful.

Kadalamma released on August 31, 1963, produced and directed by M. Kunchacko under the banner X L Productions and shot at Udaya Studios was such an adventurous fantasy film for which Ponkunnam Varkey wrote the dialogues. The story was developed by the Udaya Studios crew. The film failed to impress the audience in spite of all the entertaining stunts, dances, special effects, camera tricks and comedy sequences.

To attract the audience, a few songs were shot in colour. Popular artists like Satyan, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Kottayam Chellappan, S. P. Pillai, B. S. Saroja, Rajasree (Gracy in the title cards) , Adoor Pankajam and Mavelikkara Ponnamma acted in the film. This was the debut film of actress Sushama (Maya in the title cards).

Queen Chithrangada (Mavelikkara Ponnamma) loses her only daughter Renuka (Rajasree) in her childhood. She was kidnapped by a gang of pirates led by Jayaraj (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair) during the traditional annual festival on the seashore. Renuka is taken to a faraway island. The queen proclaims to reward half of the kingdom to the person who brings back her daughter from the pirates. Years roll by. Fisherman Velu’s (Sankaradi) son Neelan (Satyan) is in love with Karthika (Sushama), daughter of Karuppayyan (Kottayam Chellappan), chief of the fishermen.

The island in which Jayaraj lives is on the verge of being swallowed by the sea. Jayaraj approaches queen Chithrangada for her support to build a bund around the island and promises her that he would find Renuka. The queen is unaware of the fact that it was Jayaraj who kidnapped her daughter and falls for his false promise. She sends her men including Neelan to the island for the construction of the bund. Meanwhile Jayaraj lays eyes on Karthika and is besotted by her. Jayaraj wishes to get rid of Neelan.

Jayaraj’s intention was to marry Renuka and claim the reward of half of the kingdom proclaimed by the queen. But Renuka hated her torturer Jayaraj. In a fit of rage, he pushes her into a crocodile pit. But Neelan arrives just in time to save Renuka and she falls in love with him. Enraged, Jayaraj imprisons Neelan. . Since Renuka escapes, Jayaraj plans to present before the queen a slave girl who resembled Renuka and claim the reward. Neelan is freed from the prison by Renuka.

Jayaraj and the slave girl (again Rajasree – double role) reach the palace. Queen Chithrangada accepts the slave girl as her lost daughter. Jayaraj alleges that Neelan and his parents were supporters of the pirates who kidnapped the princess. The queen sentences to execute them. According to the custom of the kingdom, the person sentenced for execution is given a chance to save life, if he could bring the “Nagamanikkam”, the magical stone hidden in the seas. Neelan sets out on an expedition to bring the Nagamanikkam.

The queen decides to conduct the marriage of the slave girl with Jayaraj. And the climax—Neelan returns with the Nagamanikkam. Jayaraj’s wicked plans are exposed. Renuka, the real princess, reaches the palace. But by that time, Neelan’s parents and Karthika were executed. The queen proposes to conduct the marriage of Renuka with Neelan. But Neelan refuses, because his love was for Karthika. The film ends with the scene of Neelan getting drowned in the sea with Karthika’s corpse in his arms.

Songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to tune by Devarajan became super hits. Instant hits were Paalaazhi kadavil neeraattinirangiya…. (A. M. Raja-P. Susheela), Mungi mungi muthukal vaarum…. (Jikki-S. Janaki). Other hits include Ethu kadalilo….(Susheela), Kadalamme kadalamme…. (P. Leela), Jaladevathamare,.. ( K.J. Yesudas- Susheela) etc.

Will be remembered: As the debut film of Maya (real name-Sushama) and excellent music.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nakhangal (1973)

Socio-political story: A scene from the film

Nakhangal released on September 8, 1973, was an unusual film that told the story of an owner of a tea estate who believes in the ideals of a political party that fights for the rights of the workers, because she was a labourer-turned-estate owner.

Produced by Hari Pothen under the banner of “Supriya Films” and based on the novel of same title written by Vaikom Chandrasekharan Nair, the colour film was shot at Satya and Prasad Studios. The outdoor location of the film was tea estates in Kerala. The story pivots around two murder cases.

The success of the film is attributed to the scriptwriter Thoppil Bhasi and director A.Vincent. Some critics feel that the film was not as impressive as the novel.

Saraswathi (K. R. Vijaya), an inmate of an orphanage who believes in the ideals of a political party that fights for the rights of the working class is married to Mathew, an estate owner. The story of the film starts five days after the brutal murder of Mathew. A young graduate, Sankarankutty (Madhu) is appointed by Saraswathi Mathew as the Manager of the estate following the death of her husband. The past life of the important characters is narrated by powerful dialogues, rather than in usual visual “flashbacks” . A young leader of the estate workers, Yesudas (Raghavan), an estate worker Muthappan (C. A. Balan) and Saraswathi Mathew are the prime suspects in the case. Later, Muthappan is also murdered. Police frame false charges against Saraswathi Mathew . The local police was twisting the murder case in favour of real culprits, the estate owners Ramunni Menon (Veeran), John Sebastian ( Paravoor Bharathan ) and their group who murdered Mathew by mixing poison in the coffee served to him through Mathew’s servant Pankiyamma (T. R. Omana). They murdered Muthappan also who witnessed Mathew’s murder. Sankarankutty succeeds in unfolding the mysteries behind the murder of Mathew and Muthappan and saves Saraswathi Mathew from the false charges.

Sankarankutty’s lover Gomathi (Jayabharathi) and Yesudas are children of the party worker Achuthan Nair (Sankaradi) who were brought up in their childhood by Saraswathi when they were admitted to the orphanage following the death of their mother. Later Gomathi was brought up by a party worker Pappunni (S. P. Pillai). Ramunni Menon and his group is arrested by the crime branch. The film ends with a message – the real owners of the estates are the “workers” who built up the estates with their hard work. Saraswathi Mathew hands over the estate to the Union of the workers and leaves to the orphanage from where she came. But the local bureaucratic estate owners who were against his” pro workers policy” murdered him.

K. R. Vijay's was an impressive performance. The film dispensed with usual hilarious comedy scenes. The guest roles of Kaviyoor Ponnamma as Mathew’s concubine Kakkachi, Meena as Mathew’s sister Annamma , KPAC Lalitha as the illicit liquor vendor Maya, K.P. Ummer as Saraswathi Mathew’s brother etc were memorable.

All the songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to tune by Devarajan became hits. Instant hits were “Krishnapakshakkili chilachu….” (Yesudas, humming by Madhuri), “Gandharva Nagarangal….” (Madhuri) , and “Pushpamangalayam….” ( Yesudas) . Other hits include “ Nakshathrangale Sakshi….” (Yesudas, chorus) and “Maathaavey Maathaavey….” (Suseela) .

Why remembered:

As a good social film with a moral

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kaattuthulasi (1965)

Udaya Studios, established by producer-director Kunchacko, introduced several heroines from other South Indian languages to Malayalam cinema. He even changed their names, Rajashree became Gracy in Bharya (1962), Sharada became Rahel in Inapravukal (1965), and Rushyendramani of early Telugu cinema was introduced as Sree Ramani in Palaattu Koman(1962). In 1965, Kunchacko introduced A.B. Shanthi ( Vennira Adai Nirmala in Tamil) as Ushakumari in Kaattu Thulasi , which was released on July 9, 1965. Following the success of the film Ushakumari became a busy star in Malayalam.

Directed by M. Krishnan Nair, and shot at Udaya Studios, the film had dialogues by Thoppil Bhasi for a story developed by the Udaya team. Ghost stories were a trend in 1960s. Hindi films likeBees Saal Baad (1962), Woh Kaun Thi , Kohra(1964) were all films of this genre and did well in Kerala. The success of these ‘musical hits’ must have prompted Kunchacko to produce a Malayalam film of this kind.

Popular artistes like Sathyan, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair and Adoor Bhasi starred in the film besides the two new faces Sharada (Rahel in title cards) and Ushakumari. Sharada was introduced to Malayalam cinema through Inapravukal released in April the same year. Music by M.S. Baburaj was the highpoint of the film.

The story revolves around a tea estate in the mountain slopes of Kerala. Shekhara Pillai (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair) is a planter. His son Chandran (Sathyan), who returns to the tea estates after his higher studies, falls in love with an estate labourer Thulasi (Ushakumari). Shekhara Pillai is against this as he wants his son to marry an educated girl from a rich family. But Chandran is firm and makes it clear that he will marry only Thulasi. A myna gifted to Chandran by Thulasi is first killed by Shekhara Pillai as an indication of his protest against his son’s love affair.

Chandran leaves the estate on a business tour. Taking the advantage of the situation, Shekhara Pillai engages his goons to kill Thulasi. The helpless girl is pushed off a mountain top. News spreads about Thulasi’s ‘accidental death’. But Thulasi was lucky.

She falls on to a haystack and escapes without injuries. The tribals who find her, takes her to their colony.

Chandran returns and hears the shocking news. He loses his mental balance. Shekhara Pillai conducts the marriage of Chandran with Lalitha (Sharada).

Lalitha nurses Chandran as advised by the doctors. Every night Thulasi, accompanied by her pet dog, comes to the estate to see Chandran. People believe that this is Thulasi’s ghost.

Lalitha is determined to unfold the mystery behind all this.

She succeeds and comes to know of the circumstances that led to Thulasi’s ‘disappearance.’ Lalitha brings Thulasi to Pillai’s estate bungalow. Chandran is stunned see his beloved alive.

Chandran dies of a heart attack. Thulasi, who believed that she was the cause of Chandran’s death, commits suicide by jumping down from the mountain top. Lalitha’s attempt to save her fails.

All the songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and tuned by Baburaj became hits. Songs likeSooryakaanthi sooryakaanthi …(S. Janaki), Gangayaar ozhukunna naattil … (P. Susheela), Thulasi Thulasi vili kelkoo …(P.B. Sreenivas), Velli chilanka aninjum kondoru … (K.J. Yesudas-Jikki), andMaina maina manjadikkili …(Yesudas- Jikki) are still remembered.

Will be remembered: As the debut Malayalam film of Ushakumari and for the excellent music, especially the classic S. Janaki song Sooryakaanthi, sooryakaanthi …

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Films and the Ramayana

A still from 'Kanchana Seetha'

A still from 'Sree Rama Pattabhishekam'

B. Vijayakumar is a film historian and columnist

The month of Karkidakam (mid July to mid August) is also called the Ramayanamonth. Reading the Ramayana, especially during this month, is a timeless tradition handed down by generations. Let’s take a look at some of the films based on the epic or adaptations of the stories from the Ramayana.

This ‘tradition’ in Indian cinema began from the Silent Era. Films like Dada Saheb Phalke’s Lanka Dahan (1917) and G.V. Sane’s Ram Janma (1920) were some of the earliest. Vijay Bhatt’s Hindi/Marathi bilingual Bharat Milap (1942) and its sequel Ram Rajya (1943) are regarded as the most successful screen adaptations of the Ramayana. Ram Rajya has the unique distinction of being the only film to have been watched by Mahathma Gandhi in his life.

Two successful Malayalam films of the early period are Kunchacko’s Seetha (1960) with Prem Nazir and Kusalakumari in the lead and P. Subramaniam’s Sree Rama Pattabhishekam (1962) with Prem Nazir and Vasantha as Rama and Seetha. Both these films were direct copies of Ram Rajya and Bharat Milaprespectively.

Most of the Tamil and Malayalam films of this genre were dubbed versions of Telugu films. For example, Seetha Swayamvaram (1976) was the Malayalam dubbed version of Bapu’s super hit Telugu mythological Seetha Kalyanam (1976).

Kanchana Seetha, (1977) directed by G. Aravindan, was an adaptation of C.N. Sreekantan Nair’s play published in 1961 and successfully staged the same year. Produced by K. Ravindran Nair under the banner of General Pictures, the film won the National Award for the Best Director. Aravindan wrote the script and dialogues; the film had excellent camerawork by Shaji N. Karun and amazing art by Artist Namboodiri. The colour film was shot at outdoor locations in the forest areas on the banks of the Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. The film told on screen the story of Uttara Ramayana. Seetha symbolises Nature. The character never appears in the film but her presence is compellingly evoked in the moods of the forest and the elements such as the rustling of the wind in the trees or as the rain bringing harmony where discord threatens. The roles of the epic heroes were played by tribal people belonging to the Rama Chenchu sect, who claim lineage to the mythological Rama. The film was not a commercial success. Aravindan’s film had very few dialogues. The film significantly differed from all other adaptations of Ramayana in the characterisation of the central characters like Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha etc. The characters were humanised, contrary to the way in which mythological characters were usually depicted on the screen with magical powers.

In several other Malayalam films emotional moments from the Ramayana were co-related with melodramatic scenes through songs. The popular number Sree Ramachnadrante arukil…(K.J. Yesudas) from Oonjaal (1977) relates the scene with Rama’s wedding procession that is stopped by Sage Parasurama. Mattoru Seethaye kaattilekkayakkunnu…. (Kamukara Purushothaman-Tharavattamma:1966 ) connects Seetha’s abandonment to the sequence in the film. Other popular songs in this list are Raman, Sree Raman …( P. Jayachandran-Ayodhya: 1975), Ashoka vanathile Seethamma…( Kamukara Purushothaman-Kallichellamma: 1969); Ramayanathile dukham…(N.V. Haridas-Kayalum Kayarum:1979) etc.

Though titles of some Malayalam films are taken from the Ramayana, the storyline are in no way related to the epic. For example, Ashwamedham (1967), Lanka Dahanam (1971), Puthrakameshti(1972), Panchavati (1973), Sethu Bandhanam (1974), Maa Nishada, Aranyakaandam, Ayodhya, (all 1975), Ahalyamoksham (1976), Yudha Kaandam (1977) etc.

There are also a few songs in Malayalam that sing praise of Rama. Some of the popular ones areRaghukula nayakane Sree Rama…(Malathi ) and Bhaktha parayana….(M. K. Kamalam) both fromBalan (1938), and Thriprayarappa Sree Rama….(Vani Jayaram: Ormakal Marikkumo,1977).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nellu (1974)

Prem Nazir, Mohan, Prem Nawaz, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi, Bahadur, Jayabharathi, Kanakadurga, Kaviyoor Ponamma, Kaviyoor Ponnamma etc.

Aana Valarthiya Vanampadi (1959), Kaattu Maina (1963), Kaattu Mallika(1966) etc. were some of the Malayalam films that had the jungle as its backdrop. The colour film Nellu, released on August 23, 1974, was the first Malayalam film that portrayed life of the adivasis of the State. The story was centred on Thirunelli village, in Wayanad, and the surrounding jungles.

Nellu was based on an award-winning novel of the same title by P. Valsala which was first published in 1972 and was a bestseller. The novel deals with the customs, manners, beliefs, taboo s and prejudices of the Adiyar tribal community in Wayanad and created a sensation when it was published. Produced by N.P. Ali under the banner of Jammu Films International, the film was shot almost entirely in Thirunelli and the villages around.

The excellent cinematography by Balu Mahendra, who was making his film debut, made Nellu a beautiful, outdoor visual treat. Directed by Ramu Kariat, the script was written jointly by Kariat and K.G. George. The dialogues were by S.L. Puram Sadanandan. Another highpoint of the film was the music by Salil Chaudhary. Latha Mangeshkar made her Malayalam film debut with a song that turned super-hit. Hrishikesh Mukherji and Appa were the editors.

Prem Nazir, Mohan, Prem Nawaz, Adoor Bhasi, Bahadur, Thikkurissi, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Jayabharathi, Kanakadurga, Kaviyoor Ponamma, Adoor Bhavani etc were cast in important roles. An array of popular actors like S.P. Pillai, K.P. Ummer, Innocent, Rani Chandra and Sumithra appeared in guest roles.

On his pilgrimage to Thirunelli temple and to immerse the ashes of his mother in the sacred river Papanashini that flows beside the temple, Raghavan Nair (Prem Nazir) befriends the family of Savithri Warasyar (Kaviyoor Ponnamma), a widow. He stays with the family at her request.

Nair comes across the life of the tribals. Their struggle against Nature, superstitions, the servility and exploitation they put up with, all of this become notes in his diary. The story is narrated through Nair’s observations.

Kurumatti (Kanakadurga), is a tattooist of the tribal community and is married to Chathan (JAR Anand). She tries to seduce Mallan (Mohan), a handsome tribal youth. Chundeli (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair) who was away from Thirunelli for a long time returns to the village with his wife Pembi (Adoor Bhavani) and daughter Mara (Jayabharathi). Mallan and Mara fall in love with each other. Chundeli and Pembi agree to their marriage.

Kurumatti is upset by this. She spreads rumours that Mara and Mallan belong to same gothra or clan and so, according to the tribal traditions, cannot marry.

The tribal chief (Thikkurissi) imposes a ban on their marriage. Mara runs away with Mallan. The tribal community turns against them and the chief imposes a penalty for their breaking the traditions. Mallan leaves Thirunelli in order to earn money to pay the penalty. Mara stays in a storeroom at Savithri’s house.

Savithri’s younger brother Unnikrishnan (Prem Nawaz) is drawn towards the charming Mara. On a rainy day he rapes Mara and leaves the village. Mallan is afflicted by malaria but reaches the village with the money. He dies of the disease. The tribal chief sentences Mara to be lapidated and driven away from the tribal colony. Raghavan Nair intervenes and promises to keep Mara away from the colony. He requests Savithri help Mara and she accepts the tribal woman as her daughter. The film ends with Raghavan Nair leaving Thirunelli.

Kanakadurga excelled in her very complex role. Adoor Bhasi as the Postman, Ummer as a hunter also impressed. The comic scenes involving them and S.P. Pillai did not distract from the main plot.

Hrishikesh Mukherji won the Kerala State award for the best editor for this film.

The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to music by Salil Chaudhary turned super hits.Kadali kankadhali… (Latha Mangeshkar), Neelaponmaane … (K.J. Yesudas- P. Madhuri), Kaadu kuliranu… (P. Susheela) and Chembaa chembaa…(Manna Dey, P. Jayachandran & chorus) are still popular.

Will be remembered: As Balu Mahendra’s debut film, for Lata Mangeshkar’s first Malayalam song and for the music.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hridayam Oru Kshethram (1976)

Madhu and Sreevidya from a scene in the film Hrudayam Oru Kshethram

Madhu, Raghavan, Kedamangalam Sadanandan, Bahadur, Sreevidya, Baby Sumathi, Aranmula Ponnamma, KPAC Lalitha etc

Remakes of successful films from other languages were a trend in Malayalam cinema from its early days. But most such remakes were not as successful as the originals. Nenjil Oru Alayam (Tamil, 1962) written, produced and directed by V. Sreedhar, was a trendsetter. It was produced in less than a month and without the superstars of that time. Remade in other languages, Dil Ek Mandir (Hindi, 1963), Manase Mandiram (Telugu, 1966), Kunkuma Rakshe (Kannada, 1976), these versions were successful. The simple ‘love triangle’ story impressed audiences.

Hrudayam Oru Kshethram, the Malayalam remake of the successful story was released on December 24, 1976 remains an unusual success among the remakes. Produced and directed by P. Subramaniam under the banner of Neela Productions, and shot at Merryland Studios, this colour film was a musical hit. It had excellent music by G. Devarajan.

Madhu, Raghavan, Bahadur, Sreevidya, Aranmula Ponnamma were some of the popular stars in the film. Baby Sumathi became very popular after this film.

Doctor Ramesh (Madhu) and Prema (Sreevidya) are lovers. Ramesh goes abroad for higher studies. In his absence Prema is forced by her family to marry Harindran (Raghavan). On his return Ramesh is devastated when he hears this news. He decides never to marry and to devote the rest of his life in research and treating patients.

Years roll by. One of his patients is critically ill and has to be operated upon. The treatment progresses well. The patient is Harindran and Prema gets upset when she comes to know that the doctor treating her husband is her former lover. She is worried that Ramesh may take revenge on her by not treating her husband well.

Meanwhile, Harindran comes to know about the relationship between Ramesh and Prema. Without revealing that he knows their past, Harindran requests Ramesh to marry Prema in case his operation fails and he dies. The reason he gives is that he does not want his wife to be remain a widow. Prema, who loves her husband more than her life, tells Ramesh that she will end her life if her husband dies. And Ramesh promises her that he will save her husband even at the cost of his life.

Taking it as a challenge, Ramesh works day and night, consulting other doctors, to prepare well before he conducts the surgery. The surgery is successful and Harindran is cured. Ramesh gets excited at the result. All the hard work and pressure takes its toll on Ramesh’s health. He dies of a heart attack.

The emotionally charged story, tautly narrated on screen with pleasing music and impressive dialogues, ends with the inauguration of a hospital constructed in the name of Doctor Ramesh who devoted his life for cancer patients.

Sreevidya and Madhu excelled in the lead roles. Baby Sumathi, as a cancer patient who succumbs to the disease, also impressed.

The songs written by Sreekumaran Thampi and set to music by Devarajan stood out. Some of them likeMangalam nerunnu njaan…, Oru devan vaazhum….(both by K.J. Yesudas), Manassil theenaalam …. (P. Madhuri) became very popular. The other hits include Punchiriyo poovilveena….and Enthinenne vilichu …. (Madhuri)

Will be remembered: As a good social film and for its music.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kochumon (1965)

Early Indian cinema focussed more on mythological, historical and fantasy-based themes rather than social stories. In the South, however, Malayalam cinema was exception and gave more importance to social stories, the first talkie Balan(1938) had such a plot. But with a few exceptions, these “socials” of the first three decades of Malayalam cinema were based on stories with unusual twists and turns and were stranger than fiction. Films like Yachakan (1951), Manasakshi(1954), Jailppulli (1957) etc are few examples to quote.

Kochumon released on October 8, 1965 followed this trend of ‘strange’ social stories far from reality.

Produced by Mammen George under the banner of St. George Movies, the film was shot at Newton Studios. Poovai Krishnan wrote the script for the story developed by Devadutt and the film’s director K. Padmanabhan Nair wrote the dialogues. Edited by V.P.Varghese, cinematography was by B.G. Jagirdar. Music composer Alleppey Usman, and lyricist P. J. K. Eezhakadavu were introduced through this film.

Popular actors of the time like Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Muthiah, Adoor Bhasi, Sheela, T. R. Omana and Adoor Pankajam among others acted in the film.

The producer, Mammen George, acted in an important role. New faces introduced through this film were K.P. Kurien and Nalini.

Annamma (T. R. Omana ) is in love with Chackochan (Thikkurissi), the rich landlord, and gets pregnant by him. He refuses to marry her and disowns her. Annamma gives birth to a baby boy and loses her sanity. She runs away from the village. Annamma’s father Mathappan (Muthiah) pleads to Chackochan to accept the child but he refuses. The child christened as George (Prem Nazir) is brought up and educated by Mathappan.

George gets a job as teacher at the village primary school. George falls in love with Lilly (Sheela), daughter of the wealthy Pappachan (Mammen George). Chackochan’s son Johny (K. P. Kurien) is a wastrel and Lilly rejects his proposal of marriage. George’s cousin Rosy (Nalini) is in love with Johny and all her attempts to reform him go in vain.

Annamma who regains her sanity returns to the village after 20 years and reaches Chackochan’s house looking for her son. A furious Chackochan mercilessly drives her away.

George was, so far, unaware of the secret of his birth. Mathappan, now, tells him the truth. Along with her son, Annamma goes to Chackochan’s house. Chackochan attempts to shoot Annamma, but she escapes. Johny is furious over the fact that it was George who came in between him and Lilly.

He shoots George, but Annamma who comes in between them gets hit and dies. Chackochan repents his actions and dies of a heart attack while attending Annamma’s funeral.

And as a happy ending to the ‘strange’ social drama, George and Lilly get married.

Prem Nazir and Sheela impressed the audience as the film’s romantic lead. The comedy by Adoor Bhasi, Adoor Pankajam and others were copies from earlier films.

Alleppey Usman composed music for the four songs written by P. Bhaskaran and four by the debutant lyricist P. J. K. Eezhakadavu. Instant hits were ‘Odi varum kaattil….’ ( Suseela, Yesudas /P.J.K Eezhakadavu ), ‘Maanathe Yamuna than…’ (Yesudas, Suseela / P. Bhaskaran) and ‘Maalaakhamaare marayalley…’ (S Janaki, chorus/ P. J. K. Eezhakadavu ).

Other hits include ‘Amma Amma uttavalo nee…’ (P.B. Sreenivas), ‘Pachila thoppile thathamma…’ (L.R.Easwari, chorus), etc.

Will be remembered: The debut film of music director Alleppey Usman and lyricist P.J.K. Eezhakadavu and for some of the hit songs.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Achani (1973)

Prem Nazir, Vincent, Sudheer, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Bahadur, Adoor Bhasi, Nanditha Bose, Sujatha, Sreelatha etc.

Certain Studios and cinema theatres in India are co related with Indian films. With the substantial profits obtained from the Tamil film Chinthamani (1937), the producers built a Cinema theatre in Madurai and named it Chinthamani. The Tamil film Karpakam (1961), enabled its producer and director K S Gopalakrishnan to establish ‘Karpakam Studios’. K Ravindran Nair, fondly called ‘Achani Ravi’ donated the proceeds of the successful Malayalam film Achaani, released on July 12, 1973 to build the Public Library at Kollam.

Produced under the banner of General Pictures and directed by A. Vincent, the film was shot at Satya Studios. Based on a story by Karaikudi Narayanan, renowned playwright Thoppil Bhasi wrote script and dialogues for the film. Editing by Venkitaraman and cinematography by Venkit and Prakash was impressive. Music composed by Devarajan was a high point of the film.

Popular artists like Prem Nazir, Vincent, Sudheer, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi, Nanditha Bose, Sujatha etc acted in the film.

Vasu (Prem Nazir) who runs a tailoring shop is the head of the family consisting of his wife Seetha (Nanditha Bose), brother Gopi (Vincent) and sister Uma (Sujatha). Gopi is employed at a workshop and Uma is a school teacher. Vasu is respected by all for his noble character. The happy family lives within their means.

Uma falls in love with Babu (Sudheer), son of the rich Raghavan Mudhalali (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair), a factory owner. Vasu objects to the marriage of his sister with Babu, but Uma is determined and she leaves home and gets married to Babu. Gopi loses his job. Bad luck follows Vasu’s family. Vasu’s tailoring shop is destroyed in a fire accident. Seetha becomes pregnant. Vasu struggles for livelihood, but refuses financial support offered by friends and relatives.

Banker Menon (Sankaradi) appoints Seetha to take care of his son Raju (Master Satyajith). In a furious mood, Raju threw a metal pot at their servant, which hit his mother and killed her on the spot, causing Raju to lose his mental balance. Seetha’s love and care brings changes in Raju. One day, upon seeing Seetha wiping off the dust from a framed photo of his mother, Raju got angry and threw a heavy flower vase at her. Seetha is admitted to the hospital and an abortion takes place. The mental shock that Raju suffers out of this incident brings Raju to normalcy.

Menon offers a huge amount to Vasu out of gratitude. But Vasu refuses the support.

Gopi becomes sick. Vasu even ‘sells’ his blood to raise money to treat Gopi. But fate is cruel, Gopi dies due to lack of proper medical care. Raghavan Mudhalali and Babu fail to repay the loan availed from Menon and are at the verge of confiscation. Babu and Mudhalali plead for extension of time for repayment of the loan. Menon insists that he will allow an extension if Vasu stands as surety. Menon and Babu fall at the feet of Vasu and beg for his support. Menon withdraws all legal proceedings against Babu and his father. Menon requests Vasu to take control of Mudhalali’s factory and he agrees. And a happy ending to the social drama.

Nanditha Bose and Prem Nazir impressed the audience in their lead roles. Hilarious scenes involving Bahadur, Adoor Bhasi ansd Sreelatha gave moments of laughter . Yesudas appeared in a guest role and sang a song.

Songs written by P. Bhaskaran became hits. Instant hits were “Enthe Swapnathin…. “ (Yesudas – acting and singing), “Mallikaa Baanan Thanthe…. “ (Jayachandran, Madhuri), “Samayamam Nadi…. “ (Suseela).

Will be remembered: As a good social film and for its excellent music.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Avalude Raavukal (1978)

Seema in a still from Avalude Ravukal
Seema in a still from Avalude Ravukal
Soman, Ravikumar, Sukumaran, Kuthiravattom Pappu, Sankaradi, Bahadur, Master Raghu, Seema, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Usha Rani, Meena etc.

V. Shantaram’s classic bilingual filmAadmi/Manoos (1939- Hindi/Marathi) deals with the issue of sex workers, its morality and social acceptance. Considered as one of the best social movies ever made, it was a commercial success too. Hindi films like Sadhna (1958) andDarpan (1970) also focussed on this issue. Early Malayalam films like Kanchana (1952) had the issue as a sub plot and Agniputhri (1967) pivoted around the life of a sex worker.

I. V. Sasi, one of the most popular directors, known for his experimental projects, attempted to focus on the theme of sex workers, one which most mainstream directors were scared to get into.

Avalude Ravukal, released on March 3, 1978, told the story of a sex worker. The story, script and dialogues were written by A. Sherif. Seema was introduced in a lead role for the first time in this movie. The film was produced by M.P. Ramachandran under the banner of Murali Movies. Cinematography was by Vipindas and editing by K. Narayanan. The music composed by A.T. Ummer was the highlight of the film. Dubbed versions of this film Her Nights (Hindi) and Avalin Iravukal (Tamil) also were successes at the box office.

The story pivots around Raji (Seema), a young sex worker, and three young men, two college students Babu (Ravikumar) who has a soft corner for her, Jayan (Sukumaran) and a school teacher Chandran (Soman).

Raji loses her parents early in life leaving the responsibility of bringing up her younger brother Sudhakaran (Master Raghu) on her shoulders. Circumstances force her to a life of a sex worker. She begins living with a slum dweller (Meena) with a cycle-rickshaw driver Damu (Kutiravattom Pappu) working as her ‘agent.’

Babu who stayed in a nearby hostel takes a fancy to Raji and she begins to visit him almost regularly. Babu’s friend Jayan, a drunkard, attempts to approach Raji but is prevented by Babu. News spreads about Babu’s relationship with Raji. Sudhakaran is a regular visitor to his teacher Chandran’s room. One day a beggar steals Chandran’s wrist watch through an open window. Sudhakaran is arrested by the police. He is beaten up by the cops. Sudhakaran dies after his release from police custody. The real thief is arrested and Chandran repents for what he had done. But Raji refuses to pardon him and rejects the support offered by him.

Karunakaran (Bahadur) decides to conduct the marriage of his son Babu with Radha (Usha Rani), daughter of Damodaran (Sankaradi) and brother of his wife Lakshmi (Kaviyoor Ponnamma). Karunakaran, accompanied by Damodaran and Radha, reach Babu’s hostel and are shocked to see Raji in his room. They came to know about Babu’s relations with Raji. Radha gets married to another man.

Jayan dies of liver related complications. On his death bed he advises Babu not to abandon Raji whose love for him is pure, though ‘impure’ in the eyes of the society. Raji gets gang raped but Chandran’s timely help saves her life.

Lakshmi comes to the town to meet Babu and Raji. She takes pity on Raji when she comes to know about her past and the circumstances that led her to become a sex worker. Lakshmi accepts her as her daughter-in-law and takes her home.

Seema impressed with her intelligent acting. The film had an adults only certification due to the subject and few suggestive scenes. Kuthiravattom Pappu and Bahadur deviated from their susual comic roles and excelled in the serious character roles.

Three songs written by Bichu Thirumala and composed by A.T. Ummer became super hits. The background score by Guna Singh was excellent. One of the songs, Ragendu kiranangal oli veeshiyilla…. (S. Janaki) was a direct copy of Rajesh Roshan’s composition Pal bhar mein ye kya ho gaya… (Latha Mangeshkar for the Hindi film Swami, 1977) . This was a rare instance where the copy became as popular as the original. The other songs Unni araareero… (Janaki) and Antharindriya daahangal… (K.J. Yesudas) also became very popular.

Will be remembered: As a social movie with a strong message; as Seema’s first film in a lead role and for its excellent music.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pearl View (1970)

Songbook of the film Pearl View
The film was a musical hit too with some brilliant compositions by G. Devarajan. The black and white film even had a song sequence that was shot in colour.

The story pivots around two Christian families settled in the coastal area of the State. Xavier (P. J. Antony) and his wife Prastheena (Aranmula Ponnamma) are blessed with a son, Lawrence (Prem Nazir). The family, headed by Marian (Kottarakkara), consists of his wife Annie (Adoor Bhavani), daughter Stella (Sarada) and Bastian (Govindankutty).

The two families, whose occupation is fishing, are ideal neighbours who support each other. A ‘bad boy’ in school, Bastian is sent to his uncle in Colombo and he grows up there. Cholera spreads in the coastal area and Marian’s family is hit by the disease. The municipal authorities set their house and belongings on fire as a precautionary step to check the spread of the disease. Xavier spends all his savings to build a new house for Marian. Lawrence and Stella fall in love and their parents decides to conduct their marriage.
Xavier and Marian get hold of a box full of gold bars which was dumped in the sea by smugglers when pursued by the police. They bury the box on the beach fearing the police and plan to utilise this wealth for their benefit later. Bastian returns from Colombo. He comes to know about the buried gold and secretly takes possession of it by influencing Marian. Xavier finds he is cheated.

Marian buys ‘Pearl View,’ huge mansion. Bastian protests against Stella’s marriage to Lawrence. He takes advantage of Stella’s passion for music and takes her to Bombay to enrol her at the Bombay Music Academy. He misleads Stella by forcing to her to sign marriage documents instead of the music academy admission documents. He manages to get Stella married to Prof. Stephen (K.P. Ummer) at the academy.
At this juncture Lawrence reaches Bombay accompanying a drama troupe. He comes to know of Stella’s marriage and returns home disappointed.

Stella comes to know about the ‘trap’ on the first night of her marriage. Stephen, also unaware of the trap set by Bastian, sends Stella back home. Stella reveals the whole story to Lawrence, who accepts her and allows her stay with his family. Bastian tries to separate Stella from Lawrence. Now it is time for everyone to forget and forgive. Everyone come to know about Bastian’s wicked deeds. Xavier and Marian re-unite; Lawrence and Stella get married.

Sarada, Prem Nazir, P.J. Antony and Kottarakkara impressed with their natural style of acting. The comic scenes involving Adoor Bhasi, S. P. Pillai, and Adoor Pankajam provided moments of laughter.
The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and tuned by Devarajan became super hits. Songs likeKaithappoo vishariyumaay … (K.J. Yesudas-P. Madhuri ), Yavanasundari …(Yesudas-B.Vasantha ),Thanka thaazhikakkudamalla… .(Yesudas), Vishudhanaaya Sebastaanose …(Yesudas- Vasantha & chorus), Pushpavimaanavum …(Vasantha & chorus) all became very popular.

Will be remembered : As a good social movie and for its excellent music.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ജീവൻ തുടിക്കുന്ന മറ്റൊരു ഗ്രഹം ഉണ്ടോ ? സൌരയൂഥത്തിനു പുറത്തേക്കു കടന്ന മനുഷ്യ നിർമിതമായ "voyager -1, Voyager -2 " ഭൂമിയിലെ സംഗീതവും കൊണ്ടാണ് അന്യ ഗ്രഹങ്ങളിലെ ജീവനെ തേടിയുള്ള യാത്ര

"ജീവൻ  തുടിക്കുന്ന മറ്റൊരു ഗ്രഹം ഉണ്ടോ ?  സൌരയൂഥത്തിനു പുറത്തേക്കു കടന്ന മനുഷ്യ നിർമിതമായ "voyager -1, Voyager -2 " ഭൂമിയിലെ സംഗീതവും കൊണ്ടാണ് അന്യ ഗ്രഹങ്ങളിലെ ജീവനെ തേടിയുള്ള യാത്ര " -   ആ സംഗീതത്തെ കുറിച്ച് .........

അമേരിക്കയുടെ ബഹിരാകാശ സംഘടന NASA  1977 ൽ  ബഹിരകാശത്തേ ക്ക്  വിക്ഷേപിച്ച പേടകങ്ങൾ - Voyager -1,  Voyager -2 , സൌരയൂഥ ത്തിനു പുറത്തേക്കു കടന്നിരിക്കുന്നു. 2012 ഓഗസ്റ്റ്‌ മാസത്തിൽ പേടകങ്ങൾ സൗരയൂഥത്തിനു പുറത്തേക്കു കടന്നു എന്നാണ് റിപ്പോർട്ട്‌ .

ഭൂമിയെപ്പോലെ ജീവൻ  - മനുഷ്യരോ , മനുഷ്യരെ പോലെയുള്ള ജീവ സമൂഹം സൗരയൂഥത്തിനു പുറത്തുള്ള എതെങ്കിലും ഗ്രഹത്തിൽ ഉണ്ടെങ്കിൽ ;  ആ ഗ്രഹത്തിൽ  voyager ചെന്നു ചേരുകയാണെങ്കിൽ , ആ ഗ്രഹത്തിലെ ജീവ സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ അറിവിലേയ്ക്കായി ഭൂമിയെ കുറിച്ചും , ഭൂമിയിലെ ജീവജാലങ്ങളുടെ ശബ്ദങ്ങൾ , ചിത്രങ്ങൾ , എന്നിവയ്ക്കൊപ്പം ഭൂമിയിലെ സംഗീതവും ഉൾപ്പെടുത്തിയിട്ടുണ്ട് പോലും !! 50 ൽ പരം ഭാഷകളിൽ ആശംസകൾ ,  അമേരിക്കൻ പ്രസിഡണ്ട്‌ ജിമ്മി കാര്ട്ടരുടെ യും , യു എൻ സെക്രട്ടറി ജനറിലെന്റെയും ശബ്ദത്തിൽ ആശംസകൾ - ഈ ശബ്ദ വീചികലെല്ലാം രികാർ ഡു  ചെയ്തു പേടകത്തിൽ കൂടി അയച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട് എന്നാണു റിപ്പോർട്ട്‌ .

ഈ ശബ്ദ വീചികളിൽ ഇന്ത്യയിൽ നിന്നുമുള്ള സംഗീതത്തിനും വളരെ പ്രാമുഖ്യം നല്കീട്ടുണ്ട് എന്നുള്ള കാര്യം ഭാരതീയ പൈതൃക സംഗീതത്തിനു ലഭിച്ച അംഗീകാരം .  സുപ്രസിദ്ധ ഹിന്ദുസ്ഥാനി ഗായിക "സുർശ്രീ " കേസർ ബായ് കേര്കർ ഭൈരവി രാഗത്തിൽ പാടിയ ഒരു ഗാനം- ഹോരി -   ആണ് പേടകത്തിലെ ഇന്ത്യൻ സംഗീതം .  ഉത്തർ പ്രദേശിലെ ബനാറസ് , മഥുര , തുടങ്ങിയ പ്രവിശ്യകളിൽ വളരെ പ്രചാരത്തിലുള്ള ശൈലിയാണ് ഹോരി .  "ജാത് കഹാൻ ഹോ .... " എന്ന ഹോരി യുടെ മാധുര്യം , ഭൈരവി രാഗത്തിന്റെ മാസ്മര്യം ഏതൊരു "അന്യ ഗ്രഹ " ത്തിലെ ജീവ സമൂഹത്തേയും മന്ത്ര മുഗ്ദ്ധരാകും എന്നതിന് സംശയം ഇല്ല.

ഹിന്ദുസ്ഥാനി സംഗീതത്തിലെ മഹാ പ്രതിഭ ഉസ്താദ് അള്ളാ ദിയാ ഖാൻ ന്റെ പ്രിയ ശിഷ്യ കേസർ ബായ് കേര്കർ 1977 സെപ്റ്റംബർ 16 നു ഇഹലോകവാസം വെടിഞ്ഞു .  അനുഗ്രഹീത ഗായികയുടെ ശബ്ദം ഭൂമിയിൽ മാത്രമല്ല , സൗര യൂഥവും കടന്നു പ്രപഞ്ചത്തിൽ സഞ്ചരിച്ചു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കയാണ് .  അനശ്വര ഗായികയെ കുറിച്ച് ഒരു പുസ്തകത്തിൽ ഇങ്ങനെ പരാമർശം -  ഏറ്റവും പതുക്കെ മന്ത്രിക്കുന്നത് പോലെ ശബ്ദം താഴ്ത്തി  കേസർ ബായ്ക്ക് പാടാൻ പറ്റും .  അതുപോലെ ഏറ്റവും ഉച്ചത്തിലും .  ഒരു സ്തോഭാവും കൂടാതെ , ഒരു സ്വരവും കലന്ബി ക്കാതെ .  വരികൾക്കിടയിൽ നിന്നും ഒരു സ്വരം പെറുക്കി എടുത്തു അതിനെ ഊതി ഊതി പൊന്നാക്കാൻ അവരെ പോലെ ആർക്കും പറ്റില്ല .

പ്രപഞ്ചത്തിലെ മറ്റേതെങ്കിലും ഗ്രഹത്തിലെ ജനസമൂഹം ഈ പേടകത്തിലെ സംഗീതം ശ്രവിച്ചു , ആ മാസ്മര സംഗീതത്തിന്റെ ഉറവിടം തേടി ഭൂമിയിലെ , ഈ ഭാരത ത്തിലേക്ക് എത്തി ചേരുന്ന ഒരു സന്ദർഭം ഉണ്ടാകുമെന്ന് നമുക്ക് പ്രത്യാശിക്കാം .   ആ സന്ദർഭത്തിൽ ആ അന്യ ഗ്രഹക്കാരെ സംഗീതത്തിന്റെ മാസ്മരികതയിൽ ആറാടിക്കാൻ ആയി നമ്മുടെ പൈതൃക സംഗീതത്തെ നമുക്ക് മൌലികത ഒട്ടും കുറയാതെ, ഒരു മായവും ഇല്ലാതെ നമുക്ക് സംരക്ഷിക്കാം .

Monday, April 14, 2014

Vishukkani (1977)

Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi, Soman, Sankaradi, Adoor Bhasi, Sarada, Vidhubala, Sreelatha, Reena , Master Kumar etc.

Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi, Soman, Sankaradi, Adoor Bhasi, Sarada, Vidhubala, Sreelatha, Reena , Master Kumar etc.
It is usually seen that producers and directors compete with each other to get their films released during the festival season. On most occasions these films have no connection whatsoever with the festivals, whether in the case of story or otherwise. The Malayalam filmVishukkani , released on the festival of Vishu, April 14, 1977, was one such film.
Produced by R.M. Sundaram for RMS Cine Enterprises and directed by Sasikumar, the film was a hit. The music composed by Salil Choudhary played a huge role in the film’s success. Cinematography by Williams and editing by V. P. Krishnan were commendable.

Vishukkani was the remake of the Tamil blockbuster Karpakam (1961) produced and directed by K. S. Gopalakrishnan, who also wrote the story. In fact, the success of the Tamil film enabled the producer to even build a Studio which he named Karpakam Studio. The Hindi remake of this Tamil film, Rishtey Naathey (1965) was also was a hit.

For the Malayalam version the dialogues were by Sreekumaran Thampi. The film was shot at Satya and Murukalaya studios.

Rajendra Panikkar (Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair) is a rich farmer. He lives in a village with his daughter Radhika (Vidhubala) and son Radhakrishnan (Soman). A young successful farmer Gopi (Prem Nazir) marries Radhika and Radhakrishnan marries Jaya (Sreelatha), daughter of a city wastrel, Prabhakara Pillai (Sankaradi), whose has an eye on Panikkar’s wealth. Gopi lives with Panikkar at his request and takes care of the household and the farm.

Jaya gives birth to a baby girl Ambili (Master Kumar), but her parents neglect her. Radhika, who is childless, takes care of Ambili. The child begins to consider Radhika and Gopi as her parents.
Gopi’s control over the farm and household annoys Radhakrishnan. Prabhakaran Pillai adds fuel to the fire by brainwashing Radhakrishnan into demanding his share of the family wealth. Radhakrishnan leaves the house with his wife and Ambili.

Radhika falls into depression. Ambili does not accept her parents and is sent back to Radhika. In her attempt to save Ambili from a raging bull Radhika is killed. Ambili refuses to return to her parents and opts to stay with Gopi. Panikkar forcibly gets Gopi married to his friend and District Collector Janardanan Nair’s (Veeran) daughter Rajani (Sarada), who was Radhika’s friend, so that Ambili will be taken care of. But Gopi and Ambily who live with memories of Radhika, do not accept Rajani.
Meanwhile, Radhakrishnan and Prabhakaran Pillai conspire to swindle Panikkar. But fail in their attempts. Frustrated, Prabhakaran Pillai, decides to eliminate Gopi. He sends his goons to attack him. Both Panikkar and Rajani come and save him. In the process, Rajani is stabbed. When she is dying, Ambili expresses her love for Rajani, calling her mother. And Rajani returns to life. Pillai is arrested; Radhakrishnan and Jaya repent for their mistakes.

The festival of Vishu finds a place twice in the film. Then, the titles cards of the film have images of the Vishukkani (a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles intended to signify prosperity). Maramadi, a typically Kerala agricultural sport, has also been included in the film to give it that festival feel.
The songs written by Sreekumaran Thampi and set to tune by Salil Chaudhary became extremely popular. Poovili poovili ponnonamaayi … (K.J. Yesudas and chorus), Malarkkodi poley … (S. Janaki-Yesudas), Raappaadi paadunna ragangalil … (P.Susheela), Ponnushassin upavanangal … (P. Jayachandran), Kannil poovu chundil thenu … (Vani Jayaram) and Hey munnottu munnottu kaaley … (Yesudas & chorus) have stood the test of time.

Will be remembered : For its excellent music and as a good family drama.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sindooracheppu (1971)

The film highlights the evil of violence against elephants.
The HinduThe film highlights the evil of violence against elephants.

Madhu, Sankaradi, JAR Anand, Bahadur, Jayabharathi, Prema, T.P. Radhamani, Philomina , Baby Shobha , Master Vijayakumar

Sindooracheppu, released on November 26, 1971, was the first Malayalam film that featured an elephant and a mahout as its main characters. And not surprisingly, the film was a huge hit.
The Tamil film Yaanaippaakan (1960) had a mahout as its central character. This film, as well as its Hindi dubbed version Mahout (1961), also succeeded at the box office. But these films did not portray the true life of a mahout. Sindooracheppu was a realistic presentation of a mahout’s life and his emotional bond with the animal.
Directed by actor Madhu, the film was produced by noted lyricist-poet Yusuf Ali Kecheri, who also wrote the story, script, and dialogues. Produced under the banner of Anjana, the film was shot at AVM, Prakash and Venus Studios.
The rich Kerala landscape and folklore formed its backdrop. The outdoor scenes were canned at Deshamangalam Mana (a traditional mansion of Namboodiri Brahmins) and Cheruthuruthy village, located on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River.
Cinematography, which was by Martin Aloysius, Vasanth B.N. and Benjamin, supervised and controlled by noted cameraman U. Rajagopal, was outstanding. Editing by G.Venkitaraman, art direction by Konnanat, and music by G. Devarajan were the other highpoints of the film.
Madhu, Sankaradi, Muthiah, Premji, Jayabharathi, Prema etc. essayed important roles.
But the star of this somewhat violent film was the elephant Gopi. The elephant behaves and even thinks like a human, like his mahout, rebelling against ill-treatment and injustice. Some of the ‘star elephants’ of the time, such as Vishwakumar of Periyanampatta Devaswom, Lucky, owned by Bharat Circus and Ramachandran of Guruvayoor Devaswom, have been featured in this film.
The story revolves around an elephant and its mahout. Sankaran Nair (Sankaradi) is a mahout who lives in a remote village with his daughter Ammalu ( Jayabharathi) and wife (Prema). Sankaran is appointed as mahout of Gopi by its owner Namboodiri (Premji), a rich landlord. The village soothsayer, Kaniyan (JAR Anand) foretells that Gopi will kill three people. This prophecy instils fear in Ammalu’s mind. As a child she even attempts to kill Gopi by putting ants into his trunk.
Once, Sankaran in a drunken state annoys Gopi. He changes Gopi’s position in a temple procession allowing another mahout to place the thidambu (idol of the deity) on the top of his elephant. Humiliated, Gopi goes wild and kills two mahouts. The police team that arrives on the scene decides to shoot down Gopi. Kesavan, a wandering mahout, reaches the place and saves Gopi’s life by calming him down. Kesavan is appointed as Gopi’s mahout, and Sankaran as his assistant.
Ammalu falls in love with Kesavan and they decide to marry. Sankaran is dismissed from service by the landlord when he finds out he had been ill-treating Gopi. Sankaran turns against Kesavan. He decides to marry Ammalu to another person. Ammalu believes that Gopi was the cause for all her sorrow and bad luck. She attempts to kill Gopi once again. This time Gopi reacts and tramples Ammalu to death. Kesavan leaves the village throwing the mahout’s hook into the river, symbolic of giving up his profession in protest against cruelty to elephants.
Some of the scenes and the minor characters closely resembled those in Thomas Hardy’s novels. The village barber (Thodupuzha Radhakrishnan), tea shop owner (Bahadur) and the mad woman (Philomina) are examples.
The songs, written by Yusuf Ali Kecheri and composed by Devarajan, were well received. Some of them like Omalaale kandoo njaan (K.J. Yesudas), Ponnil kulicha raathri (Yesudas), and Thambraan thoduthathu (P.Madhuri) turned huge hits. The other popular songs included Thanneeril viriyum thamarappoo (Yesudas) and Mandachaare mottathalaya (Madhuri-Susheela Devi).
Will be remembered: As the first Malayalam film with an elephant and its mahout as main characters and for its excellent music.