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Sheriyo Thetto (1953)
This Malayalam film, released in 1953, was the first directorial venture of actor- producer-director-scriptwriter-lyricist Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair. The story and dialogues were by also by him. Widely advertised as a family drama with a social theme, the film did not deal with any specific social issues. The story was in line with some of the other language films of the time, in particular Tamil films like 'Andaman Kaithi' (1952), 'Vazhkai' (1949), etc. The film was shot at Udaya Studios. The film was jointly directed by Thikkurissi and V. A. Reynolds.
The film failed to impress and could not set the box office jingling. The camera was handled by M. R. Ranganathan, edited by S. Williams, the dances were choreographed by Ramunni and Damodaran.
The star cast included some of the popular artistes and also introduced some new faces to Malayalam cinema. While Thikkurissi, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar, S. P. Pillai, Miss Kumari, Sethulakshmi, Adoor Pankajam added star value, the film introduced Adoor Bhavani and Meena Sulochana, who later went on to become Thikkurissi's wife in real life. N. Damodaran, dance director also began his film career with this film.
The unusual story with strange twists and turns was far from real. The strange storyline is widely believed to be one of the main reasons for the film's failure. Technically the film was noted for its good camera work and editing.
Appu (Thikkurissi) returns from military service and gets employed in his hometown as a lorry driver. He lives happily with his mother (P. K. Kamalakshi) and younger sister Thankam (Meena Sulochana). Another sister of his, Sarada (Sethulakshmi), died while he was in military service. Her death left many unanswered questions. Sarada was a dance teacher and was in love with a rich landlord (Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar) who employed her to teach his daughter. Sarada was pregnant when she died. Rumours were that she committed suicide when she was betrayed by her lover, while others believed that she was killed by the landlord. Appu firmly suspected the landlord's hand in his sister's death.
One day Appu offers to give some school children a lift in his lorry. The owner dismisses him from service for this. Appu meets Geetha (Miss Kumari), the daughter of the cruel landlord and financier and they fall in love. Appu secures a job as her father's driver. Geetha becomes pregnant. She absconds and everyone think that she has eloped with her lover. The fact is that all these happenings were the doings of Appu. It was his plan to take revenge on the landlord who was responsible for his sister's death. Appu takes Geetha to an orphanage and leaves her there.
Meanwhile, Kalyani (Thankam), another woman who had fallen prey to the landlord's wicked machinations was awiting for her chance to get even with his wicked man. Kalyani roams around the town as a mad woman. Appu reaches the landlord's house at the head of a group of people who were subjected to his treacherous deeds. The terrified landlord climbs to the top of his house. Precisely at this moment Kalyani follows him and stabs him. The landlord falls to his death. Now Appu's revenge is complete. Geetha is brought back home along with her new born child. They donate a major part of their wealth to the orphanage and other poor people in the town.
Thikkurissi and Miss Kumari excelled in the lead roles. Deviating from his usual character roles, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar was impressive in the negative role. The comedy scenes, involving S. P. Pillai and Adoor Pankajam,were copies from earlier films. This film also saw the debut of Jose Prakash as actor. He was cast as the manager of the orphanage.
The 14 songs written by Thikkurissi were tuned by V. Dakshinamoorthy. Some of the songs, like the devotional sung by Meena Sulochana, 'Kamala lochana Kanna...' became very popular. The philosophical number sung by Jose Prakash 'Paadu pettu paadangalil...' introduced a new trend in Malayalam cinema. This song had the title 'Shariyo Thetto' that was repeated at the end of almost each couplet of this song. And this was used right through the film. The other hits from the film include the romantic number 'Vaarmazhaville vaa...' (Jose Prakash-P.Leela), 'Prathikara chintha ' (Dakshinamoorthy) and the comic song sung by Kuttappa Bhagavathar and Vijayalakshmi.
This song strung together almost all the titles of the Malayalam films released during that period along its lyrics. The song 'Balanaam Prahladaneppole...' had the titles of films released during the same year like 'Thiramala', 'Velakkaran', 'Lokaneethi' etc. This song pictured on S. P. Pillai and Omana was one of the highpoints of the film and a novelty too.
Will be remembered: As directorial debut of Thikkurissi. It will also be remembered as the debut film of Adoor Bhavani, Meena Sulochana, Jose Prakash as actor, and dance director N. Damodaran.
M. G. Ramachandran, B. S. Saroja, M .G. Chakrapani, Alleppey Vincent, T. S. Durairaj etc.
Released in 1953, this film was scheduled as an Easter release. But it finally hit the theatres 13 days after Easter. Despite the late release 'Genova' was a huge hit. 'Genova' was an adaptation of a musical opera (sangeeta natakam) that was staged in Kerala by prominent drama troupes under the titles 'Genova' and 'Genova Parvam'. Authored by one of the doyens of the Malayalam musical operas, T. C. Achutha Menon, this musical drama became very popular. The success of this drama and a Tamil film with a similar theme 'Gnanasoundari' (1948) might have prompted the producer-director F. Nagoor to make this film. The story is a mix of myth and history. It had scenes about the glory of Mother Mary, the kind mother who descends to Earth in order to save her devotees etc. The film was remade in Tamil and this version was released two months after the Malayalam release. All the main roles in both the languages were performed by same artistes, except for the villain role enacted by Alleppey Vincent, which was done by P. S. Veerappa in the Tamil version. The presence of MGR, B. S. Saroja, M. G. Chakrapani, T. S. Durairaj and others added star value.
The dialogues of the Malayalam version were authored by the noted writer of musical operas, Swami Brahmavrathan. He also wrote the lyrics along with Peethambaram. The story, dialogues and even the comedy scenes of the film were exact copies of the successful musical opera 'Genova.' Produced jointly by Eapen and F. Nagoor under the banner of 'Chandra Pictures' the film was shot at Newton Studios, Madras. The film introduced MGR, the super star of Tamil cinema to Malayalam. And 'Genova' remains the only Malayalam film in which he acted. Music director M. S. Viswanathan, actor M. G. Chakrapani, lyricist and dialogue writer Swami Brahmavrathan, lyricist Peethambaram, and director F. Nagoor also made their Malayalam cinema debut in this film. The veteran actor of early Malayalam cinema and one of the pioneers of musical operas, Sebastian Kunju Kunju Bhagavathar dubbed for MGR. Probably, this was the first instance in Malayalam cinema where the voice of an actor was dubbed.
Cipresso (MGR), the brave king of Ardreena, weds princess Genova (B. S. Saroja). Soon after the wedding the king starts an expedition to the borders to suppress the enemies from the neighbouring kingdoms. Genova could not convey to the king the happy news that she is pregnant at the time when the king left for the war. Minister Golo's (Alleppey Vincent) wicked eyes are on Genova and making use of the situation he tries to molest her. The queen's faithful servant Garthoos intervenes and saves her. The minister manipulates the situation and the blame is put on the servant. Genova and Garthoos are imprisoned by the minister. Genova gives birth to a baby boy in the prison.
When Cipresso returns to the palace after a victorious war, Golo turns him against the queen framing the false charges against her. Cipresso believes Golo. Garthoos is sentenced to death and Genova is banished from the kingdom. In the forest, Mother Mary appears before Genova and blesses her. Genova leads the life of a saint. Golo plots to dethrone the king. He spreads the rumour that the king is insane and that the kingdom is in trouble. Cipresso is imprisoned and Golo takes over the reins of the kingdom. The army chief, Annas (M. G. Chakrapani) also lays hatches a plot to grab power. A few faithful servants of Cipresso free their king from the prison. Cipresso and his men attack Golo and in the ensuing fight Annas is killed and Golo escapes. Cipresso also comes to know that the queen is innocent.
Cipresso goes on a search for Genova. In the forest, Golo and his men attack Cipresso. In the ensuing sword fight Golo is killed and the wounded Cipresso falls down. The young prince, Genova's son, finds Cipresso and takes him to Genova's abode. All the misunderstandings are cleared, the king and queen are reunited.
MGR and B. S. Saroja excelled in their roles. Both Alleppey Vincent and M. G. Chakrapani impressed in their villainous roles.
The 11 songs penned by Swami Brahmavrathan and Peethambaram were composed by M. S. Gnanamani, T. A. Kalyanam and M. S. Viswanathan. Some of songs became hits, especially the duets sung by A. M. Raja and P. Leela, 'Kanninnu punyamekum divya...' and 'Leela lolithame ikkanum...' Other hits include the lullaby 'Omaney en anandakkambe...' and the devotional 'Gathi nee devamatha...', both sung by Leela.
Will be remembered: As the one and only Malayalam film in which MGR acted. As the debut Malayalam film of actor M. G. Chakrapani, music director M. S. Viswanathan, lyricist and dialogues writer Swami Brahmavrathan, lyricist Pethambaram, and director F. Nagoor.
Aasha Deepam (1953)
Sathyan, Gemini Ganeshan, T. S. Balaiah, Padmini, B. S. Saroja
The grand success of the film ?Amma' produced by T E Vasudevan in 1952 in Malayalam and Tamil simultaneously encouraged him to produce ?Ashadeepam'. Like his earlier film, this one was also simultaneously produced in Tamil under the title ?Ashaimakan'. Both the Malayalam and Tamil versions were released on the same day, September 18, 1953.
The main characters in both the language versions were performed by almost the same artistes, Satyan, Gemini Ganeshan (as R Ganeshan in the title cards), T. S. Baliah, Padmini, B. S. Saroja, and Girija. ? Ashadeepam' was the Malayalam debut of Gemini Ganeshan, the romantic hero of Tamil cinema, who played a negative role in this film. Music director V. Dakshinamoorthy also acted in a minor role, that of a school teacher in the film.
The story of the film was a repetition of the social movies released earlier. The script and dialogues were written by the noted Malayalam novelist Ponkunnam Varkey. And the dialogues for the Tamil version were written by a Tamil scholar, Nagercoil Padmanabhan.
The film was shot at Vauhini Studios, Madras. The dances choreographed by K. R. Kumar were one of the main attractions of the film. A special dance performed by Padmini and her group turned a topic of discussion. A rotating multi-storied, expensive set was designed for the dance sequence. Rajagopal, Adhi.M. Irani and Venkittaraman, three noted technicians of the time, handled the camera. Editing was by M S Mani, and this was his debut film.
The South Indian film version of the Sarathchandra Chatterji's immortal love story, ?Devadas' (Tamil/Telugu) directed by Vedantam Raghaviah and starring Nageswara Rao and Savithri was released just a week before the release of ?Ashadeepam'. ?Devadas' was running to packed audiences in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In spite of this ? Ashadeepam' and ? Ashaimakan' did well at the box office.
Panikkar (T. N. Gopinathan Nair), the wealthy landlord and his widowed sister Lakshmi Amma (Aranmula Ponnamma), live in the same town. Panikkar's son Shekhar (Gemini Ganeshan) is a city wastrel, one who is after wine, women and gambling. The company of Vikraman (T. S. Baliah) and a dancer Jayanthi (Padmini) only helps to make matters worse. They plays all sort of dirty tricks and loot Shekhar's wealth.
Lakshmi Amma struggles hard to bring up her children Chandran (Satyan) and Shantha (B. S. Saroja). Her wealthy brother and his wife Bhanu Amma (Pankajavalli) in no way help Lakshmi Amma. After completing his college studies, Chandran wanted to study Law and approaches Panikkar for financial help. Bhanu Amma insults him and sends him back empty handed. Chandran borrows money from his friends and leaves the town to study.
Bhanu Amma thinks that married life may change the character of her son Shekhar and with the help of her faithful servant Pankan (K. Ramaswami) go around searching for a match. But they find that no parents are prepared to give their daughters in marriage to a vagabond like Shekhar. Bhanu Amma plans to conduct the marriage of Shekhar with Shanta. A helpless Lakshmi Amma accedes to the request from her brother. Chandran rushes home when he comes to know about the secret plans of the marriage, but he fails to reach before the wedding.
Marriage does not change the character or Shekhar's way of life. All his wealth is manipulated and controlled by Jayanthi and Vikraman. Shantha is ill treated at her husband's house. She gives birth to a child, her health deteriorates and is falsely accused of having tuberculosis.
Chandran returns home after completing his studies. He brings Shanta back home. Chandran falls in love with Sarala (Girija), the daughter of the local postmaster. On the day of his wedding with Sarala, the palatial house of Panikkar, ?Kamalalayam' is attached by the court after people who had loaned huge amounts to Shekhar had moved the court. Chandran gives shelter to Bhanu Amma in his house. Shekhar who realizes the true nature of Jayanthi and Vikraman and their hidden agenda quarrels with them. In the ensuing fight Vikraman is killed. Vikraman's men murder Bhanu Amma. Shekhar is sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
A reformed Shekhar confesses before his wife Shantha and Chandran. Shantha forgives her husband and tells him she will wait for him to come back, giving Shekhar a flame of hope - Ashadeepam.
All the actors came out with impressive performances. Gemini Ganeshan in a negative role, and Padmini as a vamp were good in roles that were a total deviation from their usual roles. The film dispensed with comedy scenes.
The 10 songs written by P Bhaskaran were tuned by Dakshinamoorthy. Some of the songs became instant hits. The classical based numbers, ? Saranam mayilvahana?' (M. L. Vasantha Kumari) and ?Jananai kayak nee Malayalamey... (Vasanthakumari and P. Leela) became very popular. A lullaby sung by Leela, ?Kanmani VA VA VI...' was a direct copy of the popular Lata Mangeshkar number ?Dheere SE aaja re...' from the Hindi film ?Albela' (1951). The Malayalam copy of the Hindi tune composed by C. Ramachandra was also a hit. Another song, ?Gramathin hridayam..' is considered as one of Jikki's best in Malayalam. The romantic duet, ?Pandhalittu mele vaanam vishalmaai...' (A. M. Raja-Leela), and ?Poo veno pudu pookkal veno...' (Leela), and the dance number featuring the lovely sets specially designed for the song sequence ?Veeshi ponvala?' were other songs that went on to become popular.
Will be remembered: As the debut Malaylam film of Gemini Ganeshan and for the excellent music.
This film is one of the early hits produced by Kunchacko and the first produced under the XL Productions banner, which went on to create several box office hits in sixties and seventies. Released on Christmas Eve the film ran to packed houses at all the centerers for many weeks.
The film focused on a father's unreserved love and affection for his children. The major success of the film paved way for its Tamil version, 'Thanthai (1953) and Telugu version 'Thanri' (1953). Both the dubbed versions were huge hits. The story of the film proceeds through several strange twists and turns which was a common feature of the South Indian films of that time. The film included all the factors of an entertainer, melodrama, romance, dances, comic scenes etc. There were stage dramas, 'kathaprasangam' dances and melodious songs. The dialogs penned by Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair were precise. Unlike dialogs of the time, which were usually lengthy, those in this film were an exception.
The story revolved around a family. Chandran (Prem Nazir) and Balan (Gopinath) are showered love and affection by their father (Thikkurissi) and stepmother (Jayasree). But Chandran does not realize the value of this and grows into a bad boy. The fancy he takes to a street girl in his childhood transforms into a love affair later.
The girl Usha (B.S.Saroja) works as an artiste in a drama troupe owned by Nanukuttan (Sesbastian Kunjukunju Bhagavathar). Chandran marries Usha much against the wish of his father. He goes on to lead an extravagant life, gets into the company of a city rogue Mathu (S.P.Pillai) and his group.
Chandran's father, very considerate, accepts his son despite his wild escapades and misdeeds. But Chandran still does not realize the value of his father's affection. He demands his share of the ancestral property and his father accedes to this demand.
A drama troupe set up by Chandran flops and he all the money he put into it goes down the drain. To recover from this setback, Chandran contests in the Assembly elections but fails here too. Bankrupt Chandran becomes desperate. Meanwhile, Usha gives birth to a baby boy. But all these changes in life does not transform Chandran or his attitude towards his father. He even becomes suspicious of Usha and leaves home with his son.
This proves to be the turning point. Chandran struggles to bring up his son. He now realizes the worth of his father, his love and of course value of money. He returns home and falls at the feet of his father. The father, who never carried any sort of hatred for his son accepts him.
Thikkurissi's outstanding performance was one of the high points of the film. This was the only film in which veteran actor Sesbastian Kunjukunju Bhagavatahar did a comic role.
There were 17 songs in the film. Some of the songs became super hits. The most popular of them was 'Ambili Amara thirinju nin anpinodonnu chollu ...' sung by Thiruvananthapuram V. Lakshmi. This remains the only solo rendered by her. Later on she was heard as part of the chorus in several films. The other hits include 'Naame mudhalali namakkini...,' 'Madhuram madhuramee jeevitham...' (P. Leela), 'Madhumasa chandrikayay...' (A.M.Raja, P.Leela). A kathaprasangam by Pankajavalli, which also became very popular. Will be remembered: As one of the major box office hits of early Malayalam cinema. It will be remembered as the debut of Boban Kunchacko, the maiden venture of XL Productions, and first film of Thiruvananthapuram V. Lakshmi.
Produced by Sreeramulu Naidu under the banner of Pakshiraja Studios in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, 'Kanchana' was the screen version of a popular Tamil novel 'Kanchanayin Kanavu', authored by Tripurasundari, popularly known by her pen name 'Lakshmi'. The novel serially published in the Tamil weekly 'Ananda Vikatan' got widespread acceptance and appreciation from the readers for the morals it conveyed. The popularity of the novel prompted Sreeramulu Naidu to produce the film based on this story. All the three versions did well at the box office. The Malayalam version, released in October 1952, was a huge hit.
Prominent stars from Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu were part of the starcast. The legendary singing star K. R. Ramaswamy, and others like Miss Kumari, Padmini, Lalitha, Aranmula Ponnamma, M. N. Nambiar, P. A. Thomas added value to the film.
The film was shot at the splendid sets of the Pakshiraja Studios. Directed by Sreeramulu Naidu, the camera was handled by the renowned cameraman Sailen Bose. The dances choreographed by Guru Gopinath was an added attraction. Music composed by S. M. Subbiah Naidu dispensed with the practice of imitating popular tunes.
The film threw light on some social evils of the time like polygamy, injustice and discrimination towards women etc. The dialogues penned for the Malayalam version by Munshi Paramu Pillai, along with Manikyam, was impressive. The film dispensed with the usually irrelevant comic scenes.
Pushpanathan (K. R. Ramaswamy) takes over as Zamindar of Mathur. His widowed mother Ponnammal (Aranmula Ponnamma) wants her son to lead a peaceful life looking after the agricultural lands owned by the family. But Pushpanathan is persuaded by his college mate Manohar (M. N. Nambiar) to start a textile mill. Manohar's wicked eye is on the wealth of Pushpanathan.
Manohar introduces Pushpanathan to a dancer in the city, Bhanumathi (Padmini). Daughter of a prostitute Bhanumathi leads a honourable life, quite against the wish of her mother. Bhanumathi is in love with Pushpanathan. Manohar manages to manipulate and divert Pushpanathan's wealth in the cover of the setting up the textile mill.
Neelamegham Pillai (K. Doraiswamy), the former accountant of the Mathur Zamindar, now lives in utter poverty, struggling to bring up his grand children Kanchana (Lalitha) and Sabeshan (P. A. Thomas), who is studying for Medicine. Pushpanathan comes to help the old servant of his family and he becomes enamoured by Kanchana. Shortly afterwards, Pushpanathan weds Kanchana. He assures Bhanumathi that his marriage will not affect his love for her.
Kanchana who had dreamt of a luxurious and happy life as the Zamindar's wife is ill-treated by her mother-in-law. And she is heart-broken when she comes to know of her husband's relationship with Bhanumathi.
The financial crisis caused by the borrowings for the construction of the textile mill and domestic worries disturbs Pushanathan's peace of mind. At this juncture a young lady doctor, Seetha (Miss Kumari) comes to Mathur. Pushpanathan is drawn to her. But Seetha is in love with Kanchana's brother and her college mate doctor Sabeshan.
Kanchana burns with suspicion and jealousy. To add insult to injury, Pushpanathan beats Kanchana in the presence of Seetha. Disapproving of Pushpanathan's amorous approaches Seetha leaves Mathur. Pushpanathan vents his anger against Kanchana, who, unable to take it anymore leave home. Pushpanathan does not allow Kanchana to take her son with her.
Doctor Sabeshan misunderstands Seetha and leaves the village. Ponnammal gradually begins to realise what the value of Kanchana. She asks Pushpanathan to bring Kanchana back. Even Bhanumathi pleads with Pushpanathan to bring his wife back home.
Bhanumathi dies. All her wealth is transferred to Kanchana's son. Pushpanathan brings Kanchana home. All misunderstandings are cleared. Sabeshan weds Seetha.
The important characters were well handled by the experienced artistes like K. R. Ramaswamy, Lalitha, Padmini, Miss Kumari etc.
All the eight songs, penned by Abhayadev and tuned by S. M. Subbiah Naidu, became instant hits. A composition of Muthuswami Dikshithar , 'Maye thwam yaahi...' in Tharangini raga and sung by M. L. Vasanthakumari became a super hit. Another composition of Dikshithar in Kalyani raga and sung by Vasanthakumari, 'Shivakameswari...' also became a hit. The romantic number, 'O! Vaanin mele...' (P. A. Periyanayaki) and a prayer song sung by Radha-Jayalakshmi, 'Charana Pankajam...' were the other popular hits. Other songs that impressed were 'Vela cheyyu...' (Radha-Jayalakshmi) and 'Nirasha mathram aayi...' (Periyanayaki).
Visappinte Vili (1952)
Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Muthukulam, Nanukuttan, S.P.Pillai, Kumari Thankam, Pankajavalli, Adoor Pankajam, Ambika
Released in August, 1952, this is one of the earliest box office hits in Malayalam Cinema. Produced by K.V.Koshy and Kunchacko in Udaya Studios, the film was remade in Tamil and subsequently a dubbed Telugu version was also made. Though publicised as a 'social' film it had nothing to do with any social issues. It was a family melodrama with strange twists and turns far removed from reality. In spite of all this the film was a huge success.
Photography by E.R.Cooper and editing by P.V.Varghese enhanced the quality of the film. It ran to full houses for weeks and months.
Mohan (Prem Nazir), the only son of the rich landlord of 'Lakshmi Bhavanam loses his father in childhood. The manager (Nanukuttan) manages to secure all the wealth of the family, throwing Mohan and his mother out on the streets. Soon, Mohan loses his mother also. Adopted by a kind hearted land lord of 'Ananda Bhavanam,' Mohan is brought up along with his children Venu (Thikkurissi) and Sarojam (Kumari Thankam) After the death of the landlord, Venu takes charge of the household.
Kamalam (Pankajavalli), the daughter of the wicked manager who cheated Mohan and his family, is married to Venu. Kamalam's lecherous brother Ramu, who is in love with Sarojam, plays all kinds of nasty tricks to get married with the support of Kamalam. But Sarojam, who is in love with Mohan, staves off his advances. Pressurised by his wife Venu expels Mohan from the house. Ramu and his gang beat up Mohan. He seeks refuge in a nearby estate.
Meanwhile, Kamalam hatches a plot for the marriage between Ramu and Sarojam. Venu is poisoned and Sarojam donates blood to save her brother. Venu is saved. He realises his mistakes and understands the misdeeds of his wife. Mohan returns to the village. Venu gives his sister in marriage to Venu bringing the film to a happy end.
The film had all the ingredients of a typical entertainer songs, dances, comedy scenes etc. Though the story was absolutely unrealistic it did not in anyway affect its success. The dance dramas 'Swargavaathil' and 'Ramanan' that were included were added attractions.
Prem Nazir and Thikkurissi excelled in their roles. Kumari Thankam, the glamour girl of the time was the main attraction. The comedy team of S.P.Pillai, Adoor Pankajam, Muthukulam and Vanakkutti, were reduced to mere repetitions of the usual comic scenes.
The grand success of the film encouraged the producers to remake it in Tamil, 'Pashiyin Kodumai.' It had Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi and Kumari Thankam in the lead roles along with other leading stars of Tamil cinema like M .S .Draupadi, and Madhuri Devi in important roles. The success of the Tamil remake paved way for a Telugu dubbed version titled 'Aakali Piluppu.'
The Malayalam film had 12 songs penned by Abhayadev and tuned by P. S. Divakar. Some of the songs became super hits and a few have stood the test of time. Though noted actor Jose Prakash made his debut as playback singer in the film 'Shariyo Thetto,' released in 1953, 'Vishappinte Vili' was the first to be released. A duet 'Chinthayil neerunna jeevitham ' sung with Kaviyoor Revamma turned a super hit. Another duet sung by A.M.Raja and P.Leela, 'Mohiniye, enn athma Mohiniye ' was also very popular.
Will be remembered: For the songs, 'Chinthayil neerunna
and 'Mohiniye enn athma Mohiniye
' Also, Jose Prakash's first released film song was in this movie. It will also be remembered as the film in which Ambika, who later went on to reign supreme as heroine in the late 50s and early 60s, made her debut.
Sathyan, M. N. Nambiar, T. S. Muthiah, B. S. Saroja, Miss Kumari, Kumari Thankam, N. R. Thankam, Pankajavalli.
'Atmasakhi' was the first film produced by P. Subramaniam and the first to be shot at the famous Merryland Studios. This film company which Subramaniam established at Nemom, near Thiruvananthapuram, has the credit of having introduced many new artistes to Malayalam cinema. The most prominent among them was Sathyan. Though Sathyan first faced the camera in the film 'Tyagaseema,' a project that never saw the light of day, it was in 'Atmasakhi' that he made his debut. The glamour girl of the fifties, Kumari Thankam and N. R. Thankam, later known as Miss Chandni, entered films through 'Atmasakhi.'
Also making their debut in this film were lyricist Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair and music director Brother Lakshmanan. This was also the first film to be produced by Neela Productions.
The story, script and dialogues of 'Atmasakhi' were by K. P. Kottarakkara, who also acted in the film. The story of the film was in line with the then preferred formula of social films. The wicked step mother, ill treated children, g47ood hearted servants, were all there, along with the eternal love triangle. 'Atmaskahi' was dubbed into Tamil and released under the title 'Priyasakhi.'
Raghu (Sathyan) and Leela (Miss Kumari), children of Chandrasekhara Pillai (Veeran), a wealthy landlord, lead a miserable life. Ill- treated and humiliated by their step mother Kamala (Pankajavalli). Their father is helpless, and the children do not get any love or care from him. The only consolation for the children is the family that stays close by. Raghu falls in love with the girl of that family, Santha (B. S. Saroja).
Raghu gets absolutely no support from his father when he decides to pursue medical studies. It is his friend Hari (K. P. Kottarakkara) who stands by him during that crucial phase. Kamala begins to play her dirty tricks to separate Raghu and Santha and also to turn her husband against them. At college, Indira (Kumari Thankam), unaware of Raghu's affair with Santha, nurses an affection for him. This completes the love triangle.
In the meantime, Santha's mother dies and she leaves home in search of Raghu. The story from now on races to a climax. Santha falls into the hands of ruffians but is saved in the nick of time by Indira and Hari. Santha becomes a nurse. Mohan (M. N. Nambiar), the wicked son of Kamala, is shot dead by his own mother by mistake. Kamala turns insane; Raghu marries Santha, while Leela weds Hari; Kamala is back to normal, reformed, providing a happy ending to the film.
Most of the 13 songs of the film were imitations of popular Hindi and other language film songs. Most of these songs have faded into obscurity. The lyrics of the imitated songs did not gel with the tunes in most cases. One such song, imitation of an immortal Marathi song composed by Vasant Desai in Lavni style, 'Lat pat lat pat......' for the film 'Amar Bhoopali' sung by Lata Mangeshkar and chorus, sung in 'Atmasakhi' by N. L. Ganasaraswathi and beginning 'Jayam jayam sthana jayam...' failed to create an impact. So was the fate of the other imitations.
But one of the songs, in spite of being an imitation of a very popular Hindi film song, became a hit. The song, 'Aa nila vaanilen aashakal, kaniyidum tharake...' rendered by P.Leela and T. A. Mothi was a direct imitation of the Hindi song 'Duniya hamare pyar ki...' from the 1949 film 'Lahore' sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Karan Dewan.
Will be remembered: 'Atmasakhi' will be remembered as the first film of Neela Productions. It will also be remembered as the debut film of Sathyan, Kumari Thankam and the musical duo Thirunainarkurichi- Brother Lakshmanan.
M. P. Manmathan, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, S. P. Pillai, S. J. Dev, Miss Kumari, Aranmula Ponnamma etc.
'Yachakan' was the last Malayalam film released during the year 1951. The film reached the theatres during Onam but the storyline had nothing to do with the festival. It did have a few dance and song sequences related to Onam. The film bombed at the box office.
Produced by K. S. Akhileswara Iyer under the banner of Kairali Productions, the film was the first directorial venture of R. Velappan Nair, a noted cinematographer of the time.
The film was an adaptation of the Malayalam novel 'Paradeshi' authored by Dr. P.S. Nair. The novelist himself wrote the script and dialogues for the film. It was edited by K. D. George. Shot at Rathna Studios, Salem, the film had few dances choreographed by Tripunithura Madhavan Menon, which were the highlights.
Freedom fighter, leader of the Sarvodaya Movement in Kerala, and former General Secretary of Nair Service Society (NSS), M. P. Manmathan starred as hero, the only film he acted in. Popular artistes like Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, S. P. Pillai, Miss Kumari, Aranmula Ponnamma, Muthukulam and others provided the star value.
'Jeevitha Nauka,' released the same year, had a sub plot relating to the rehabilitation of the mendicants. The country was slowly achieving economic progress and poverty was a burning issue. The heroine of 'Jeevitha Nauka' is one who struggles for the rehabilitation of beggars and the film had scenes where she strives to get justice for them.
'Yachakan' stressed on the problems faced by the society due to poverty and begging. In fact, the protagonist was a beggar. But the film failed to attract the audience. Sudhakara Prabhu (S. J. Dev) a wealthy landlord lords over 'Padmalayam'. The film opens with Prabhu conducting an elaborate Onam feast in his palatial house. Sathi (Miss Kumari) is the daughter of an old servant of this house who was given refuge by Prabhu when her father fled away from the city. Gopi Mohan (Kottarakkara) is the manager of 'Padmalayam'. He has an eye on the wealth of 'Padmalayam' and manages to win the heart of Sarojam (Ambalapuzha Meenakshi), sister of Prabhu. He is even able to manipulate the wealth with Sarojam's support.
Sathi falls in love with Chandran (M. P. Manmathan), a beggar who is engaged in a struggle for their welfare and rehabilitation. Prabhu appreciates the noble cause for which Chandran works and supports him with generous donations. But he turns against Chandran when he comes to know that Chandran is in love with Sathi.
Sarojam becomes pregnant and Gopi Mohan betrays her. He now tries to win over Anandam (Aranmula Ponnamma), a prostitute, and her friend Meenu (Thankam). He misleads Anandam and makes her believe that he is the landlord of 'Padmalayam'. Gopi Mohan is expelled from the house when Prabhu comes to know about his misdeeds.
Gopi Mohan tries to molest Sathi but the timely intervention of a masked man saves the girl. Sarojam gives birth to a child and out of shame runs away from the house leaving her child at 'Padmalayam'.
Prabhu changes his mind when he comes to know about the true love of Sathi and Chandran. He promises to conduct their marriage. Sathi leaves home in search of Chandran. Now, a misunderstanding springs up between the lovers. Chandran suspects that Sathi is in love with Prabhu and begins to spurn her. Gopi Mohan reaches Chandran's hut and attempts to kill him.
Again the masked man appears and saves Chandran's life. Gopi Mohan's vengeance does not end. He attacks 'Padmalayam' with his gang and tries to molest Sathi in the presence of Prabhu. The masked man appears again and beats back Gopi Mohan.
Now to the climax of the film, which is reconcilation and clearing of all misunderstandings. Sarojam finds Gopi Mohan on the streets, seriously ill and brings him home. Chandran's foster father reveals to him on his death bed that he is none other than the elder brother of Sudhakara Prabhu, who was kidnapped by Madhu Pillai (Muthukulam) while he was a child. The child was handed over to the beggars by Madhu Pillai.
The masked man is Kunju, who has been pretending to be the faithful servant to Gopi Mohan in order to save others from his cruel deeds. Sathi and Kunju are children of Raghu Raman, the faithful servant of 'Padmalayam' who was forced to leave the household due various reasons. Gopi dies of illness and Madhu Pillai becomes a lunatic. Sudhakara Prabhu invites his elder brother Chandran to take over charge of 'Padmalayam'. But Chandran refuses for his life's mission is welfare of the beggars. He leaves home with Sathi.
Though a new comer, M. P. Manmathan impressed in the lead role. Deviating from her usual roles, Aranmula Ponnamma was cast in a negative role but did not impress. Kottarakkara performed well as the villain.
There were 18 songs in the film. The songs included the popular poem 'Komala Keralamey...' written by the noted poet Narayanan Nair, popularly known as 'Bodheswaran' and another one written by G. Sankara Kurup, 'Innu njaan naale nee..' The other songs were written by Abhayadev. Music was by S. N. Ranganathan. A romantic duet sung by V. N. Rajan and P. Leela, 'Veeshuka neele, veeshuka neele...' became a hit. A solo sung by Rajan, 'Swantham viyarpinaal..' also became popular.
This was the debut film of Rajan, brother of Vaikom Saraswathi, a popular classical singer of that time. Soon after the recordings of the songs for the film, Rajan died of illness and Malayalam cinema lost a gifted playback singer.
Will be remembered: As the only film acted by M. P. Manmathan. And as the debut film of poet Bodheswaran, producer Akhileswara Iyer and singer V. N. Rajan.
P. A. Thomas, Neyyattinkara Komalam, S. P.Pillai, Kanchana, Kandiyoor Parameswarankutty etc.
'Vanamala' is considered the first 'jungle movie' in Malayalam. Movies of this genre were hugely inspired by Tarzan created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The silent movie 'King of Forest' (1926) produced by Royal Arts with Jilloo Bai and Udvadia in the lead roles was probably the first Indian movie in this genre. 'Jungle Queen' (1936), 'Jungle King' (1939), 'Jungle Princess' (1942) etc. are some of the early Hindi films with similar plots. Most of these adventure movies did well at the box office. Stunt actors like John Cawas and 'Fearless' Nadia were integral parts of such movies.
The Tamil film 'Vanaraja Karzan' (1938) produced by Wadia Movietone jointly with Madras United Artists Corporation was the first 'jungle movie' from the South. The film was a hit and remade in Hindi as 'Jungle King.' John Cawas acted as hero in both the films. 'Vanamohini' (1941) produced by South Indian United Artists Corporation,' directed by the Hindi comedian-producer Bhagawan was a runaway hit. The glamor girl of the time K. Thavamani Devi's performance was a highpoint. The Tamil film 'Toofan Queen' (1940), though not strictly a 'jungle film' had a story set in the backdrop of the forest. The success of such film must have inspired the producers, V&C Productions, to make the Malayalam film 'Vanamala.' The story of the film was written by its director, G. Viswanath. The dialogs were by the popular playwright Munshi Paramu Pillai. The lyrics by the eminent writer P. Kunjukrishna Menon and music was composed by P. S. Divakar.
'Vanamala' had P. A. Thomas and débutant Neyyattinkara Komalam, who was cast in a Lady Tarzan kind of role. Stage artistes essayed the other important roles. The comic track that had S. P. Pillai was impressive. The film also had an elephant 'Baby Lakshmi' and most of the billboards of the film featured this elephant.
The film was shot at Udaya Studios using sets. Only a few scenes were shot near Pechippara Dam, near Marthandam. Most of the scenes involving wild animals were lifted from foreign films.
The story of the film revolved around the Zamindar of 'Vasantha Vilas' (Kandiyoor Parameswarankutty) and his daughter. The girl, named Mala, was born after many years of marriage. When Mala was born her father had a chain put on her neck with a locket engraved with her name. The Zamindar had once promised his Secretary Prasad (Muthukulam Karthikeyan Nair) that he would adopt his son Ashokan as his heir. But the birth of Mala changed the equations. Prasad engages his faithful servant Babu to kill Mala. But instead Babu abandons the girl in a forest.
Here Mala is looked after by a tribal couple and an elephant. They girl grows up as Nalini (Neyyattinkara Komalam). The elephant becomes her companion.
The Ramonda shifts his residence to his Sivalokam estate on the outskirts of the forest. Prasad and his son Ashokan (P. A. Thomas) also accompany the Zamindar. Ashokan and Nalini meet each other in the forest and fall in love. Prasad recognizes Nalini by the locket on her chain. He fears that if Nalini is left to live his son Ashokan would lose the right of inheritance. Prasad also comes to know that Ashokan and Nalini are in love. All his attempts to separate them are in vain. Prasad requests Ashokan to leave the estate but he stays in the forest in disguise.
Prasad makes an attempt to kill Nalini but is thwarted by Ashokan. In the melee that ensues Nalini stabs Prasad to death. Before he dies Prasad reveals to the Zamindar that Nalini is none other than his daughter Mala. The Zamindar gives his daughter's hand in marriage to Ashokan.
There were nine songs in the film. Most of them were copies of Hindi tunes. The solo by Jikki, 'Thalli thalli haa ...' was a direct lift of the popular duet 'Gore gore O baanke...' by Lata Mangeshkar and Ameerbai Karnataki from the Hindi film 'Samadhi' (1950). And incidentally this was Jikki's first Malayalam film song. The other hits were, 'Ullam thulli vilayodiyithu...' (Jikki), 'Aho vidhiyo...', 'Haa imbam kolka naam...' (by Jikki and Mehboob). .
Will be remembered: As the first 'jungle movie' in Malayalam. As the debut film of Neyyattinkara Komalam, director G .Viswanath, lyricist P. Kunjukrishna Menon, singer Jikki and cameraman Arumugham.
Kerala Kesari (1951)
Vaikom Vasudevan Nair, Thankam Vasudevan Nair, 'Akbar' Sankara Pillai, K.K.Aroor, Durga Varma etc.
The 31th death anniversary of Vaikom Vasudevan Nair falls on February 11, 2016. 'Kerala Kesari,' the 14th film in Malayalam was released on May 17, 1951 was produced by Vaikom Vasudsevan Nair under the banner of Star Combines.
Vasudevan Nair entered into film production when Malayalam cinema was at its infant stage and majority of the earlier films were not very successful. The film producers in the State, other than film companies like Udaya Studios, were not enthusiastic about entering the field. Vasudevan Nair and his wife Thankam, two of the brightest stars of musical opera (sangeeta Natka) and whose fame spread all over the country with the success of their musical drama 'Yachaki', had virtually no screen experience. Vasudevan Nair took the bold step of producing a Malayalam film, and that too ignoring the failure of 'Nirmala' (1948), a film produced by another artiste from musical operas, Artist P. J. Cherian.
The brave attempt of Vasudevan Nair to produce a Malayalam film at a time when very few films were being made in the language deserves appreciation. But 'Kerala Kesari' failed.
The film was a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood kind of character portrayed in some of the early Indian films. The success of such films might have prompted the producer to select a similar theme deviating from the regular social stories which he used to present on the stage, like 'Yachaki', 'Sasidharan BA,' etc.
Several stage artistes played roles in the film. Vaikom Vasudevan Nair and his wife Thankam took the lead roles. Others like 'Akbar' Sankara Pillai, Vaikom Raju etc. were seen on the silver screen for the first time. The film, when released faced severe criticism from critics like M. Vasudevan Nair popularly known by his pen name, 'Cinic'. While Tamil films with similar themes fared well at the box office, 'Kerala Kesari' failed to repeat this feat. One is not sure whether this criticism had an adverse effect, overshadowing the merits of the film.
The melodious tunes composed by Gnanamani were rendered by musical talents like Vasudevan Nair, Thankam, Kaviyoor Revamma, Periyanayaki etc. The failure of the film forced Vasudevan Nair and his wife Thankam bid goodbye to films forever and return to the stage. This was a loss for Malayalam cinema could not exploit the musical talents of these singing talents. It must be noted that both of them were sensations on the stage and the audience enjoyed their singing.
'Kerala Kesari' is a costumed adventure fantasy, the hero being an Indian version of Robin Hood. The king of Maninagaram (P. Mahadevan) is cheated, dethroned and banished from the country by Regent Chandra Varma (Sankara Pillai). The royal priest (K. K. Aroor) and army officer Prathapan (Vaikom Raju) lend support all the treacherous plans of the Regent. When the noble army chief Rajendran (Vaikom Vasudevan Nair) voices his protest against the Regent and the priest, he is imprisoned.
Rajendran escapes and seeks refuge in the house of the royal maid, Hema (Durga Varma). The Regent's men shoot Rajendran when he tries to escape from the trap set to capture him. Wounded, Rajendran falls into the sea and is believed to be dead. But Rajendran emerges as Kerala Kesari who makes the forest as his hideout, becomes the Saviour of the downtrodden and the hapless victims of the Regent's evil rule.
Bhavani (Thankam Vasudevan Nair) who had lost her father, again a prey of the Regent's cruelty, joins hands with Kerala Kesari in his mission. Kerala Kesari falls in love with Bhavani.
Meanwhile, the Regent arrests Hema and keeps her captive in his palace. Kerala Kesari reaches the palace and rescues her. Hema's house is set to fire and she rushes to the place to save her father. Hema is arrested and later freed. This is part of a plan to find the hideout of Kerala Kesari. The army reaches the forest hideout and in the ensuing battle between the two forces, Hema dies. Kerala Kesari, Bhavani and their followers, are captured and brought before the court of law.
The banished ruler appears before the court and reveals the facts behind the evil drama enacted by the Regent and his men. The people come to know that Kerala Kesari is not a traitor. They hail him as a patriot who fought against the evil rule in Maninagaram. The king takes over the reins of the country. Rajendran weds Bhavani.
There were 11 songs, penned by Thumpamon Padmanabhankutty and set to tune by Gnanamani. They were all based on classical ragas. The song based on Desh raga, sung by Vaikom Vasudevan Nair, 'Neethiyitho bhuvaney...' became a huge hit. Another popular song was a devotional on Lord Ayyappa, 'Ayyappa akhilandokodi nilaya ' (Vasudevan Nair and chorus) and is considered the first devotional on Lord Ayyappa in Malayalam cinema. There is a lengthy 'virutham' and the song is of almost six minutes duration, quite rare those days. Other melodies include 'Janmamo hathamaay vyamohathale...' and 'Venal kaalam poye...' (Thankam Vasudevan Nair). A Hindi ghazal 'Aaj kaho museebathiya...' was also included in the film.
Will be remembered: As the only film in which Vaikom Vasudevan Nair and Thankam, acted. As the film in which a devotional song on Lord Ayyappa was included for the first time. And, of course, for its music.