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Chilamboli (1963)

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Realistic, moving and tragic...
11 September 2014 | by (Kerala,India) – See all my reviews

This is another film by the great G.K Ramu. Based on the legend of Bilwa Mangal. In comparison with its follower "Chinthamani" (1937), G.K Ramu's "Chilamboli" (1963) provides a more realistic backdrop. The buildings, such as Vilwamangalam's and Sumangala's houses as well as the brothel in which Chinthamani dances are relatively simple, unlike their over-extravagant replicas in the old adaptation by Y.V Rao. Also, the costumes are simple and reflect the lifestyles of rural Malayalis in the past, much unlike Y.V Rao's adaptation that features too much jewellery, gold embroidery, rich brocades and fabulous fabrics. In addition to that, this film has great and subliminal histrionic performances by Prem Nazir, Ragini and Ambika. I was captivated by Prem Nazir's perfect picturisation of a drunk, lovesick Vilwamangalam. His dialogues are simple and easier to understand, in comparison with K.L Thyagaraja Bhagavathar's role, who speaks lots of flowery language. Apart from that, Prem Nazir's blurred glint in his eyes while playing the drunk Vilwamangalam scene with Ragini is simply natural. Leading Malayali-film tragedy queen Ambika played Sumangala in this film, and her performance was the greatest. In my opinion, Chinthamani's (Ragini) reaching out to a dying Vilwamangalam (Prem Nazir) towards the story's end in G.K Ramu's adaptation was merely a copy of Ashwathamma's act in the tamil film: the saris featured in the same scene from both films were exactly the same, too! I strongly feel that Ambika's performance was at its strongest during this scene, and no other actress can possibly duplicate it. Last but not least, the round of applause should also go to Mollywood's legendary Dancing Queen, Ragini. She was handpicked by G.K Ramu for her flawless dancing skills. Nevertheless, she not only spiced the film with her fluid Kathak; she also gave the audience a never-seen-before melodramatic side of herself when she played the converted Chinthamani. Ashwathamma's role was simply out of the question whereby she even met up with Chinthamani! Moreover, one ought to note that Chinthamani is just a courtesan, not a diva, as portrayed by Ashwathamma. In short, Ragini has successfully proved her versatility through Chinthamani in this film. On top of that, "Chilamboli" (1963) has a beautiful original musical score. The biggest credit should go to P.Leela, who was, at that time, enjoying early success. Her melodious voice made the mujras "Priya Manasa Nee Vaa Vaa" and "Poovinu Manamilla" as well as the touching "Oodi Vaava Oodi Vaava " all-time best-loved nostalgic hits. In a nutshell, G.K Ramu's "Chilamboli" (1963) will always rank as an evergreen classic in the charts of Mollywood, thanks to the unforgettable acting by Prem Nazir, Ambika and Ragini, P.Leela, Kamukara Purushothaman, and S.Janaki's melodious voices as well as the memorable direction of the great film-maker G.K Ramu.


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