K. J. Yesudas who completed 50 years of playback singing made his debut in Kaalpaadukal, which was released on September 7, 1962. Produced by R. Nambyath for Sree Narayana Cine Productions and directed by K. S. Antony the film was shot at Golden Studios, Chennai. The film was produced as a part of the 108th birth anniversary celebrations of Sree Narayana Guru (Chathaya Dinam).
The story and dialogues, written by the director himself, focused on the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru, the great saint and social reformer. His famous teaching, ‘One caste, one religion, one God’ was propagated in the story. In fact, Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asaan appear as characters in the film. Cinematography by E. N. C. Nair and editing by K. D. George were commendable.
Dharmatma (Marathi/Hindi, 1935), based on life of Saint Eknath, Nandanar (Tamil 1935 & 1942), Ramalinga Swamikal (Tamil -1939), based on lives of saints of the same names, are some of the other films that focused on the issues of untouchability and caste discrimination.
Kaalpaadukal was not a box office hit but won the National Award in the regional films category.
Apart from popular artistes like Prem Nazir, Prem Nawaz, P. J. Antony, Shanthi, Aranmula Ponnamma several stage and amateur artistes acted in the film. This was the debut Malayalam film of K. R. Vijaya.
Maakotha (P. J. Antony) is a Dalit tenant of the wealthy landlord Iravi Namboodiri (Nambyath). Maakkotha’s teenaged son accidentally happens to touch Iravi Namboodiri. In those days, untouchability was a burning social evil. In his fury Iravi Namboodiri drags the boy to his house and beats him. Helpless Maakotha and his young daughter Paaru (Shanthi) stand dumb witness to the cruel act. Kind-hearted Unni Namboodiri (Prem Nazir), Iravi Namboodiri’s son, rescues the boy. Unni Namboodiri falls in love with Paaru. They meet secretly and their love blooms.
Unni Namboodiri meets Kumaran Asan (Kollam Sukumaran) who, by his poetical works, protested against untouchability. Sree Narayana Guru (K. P. Paul) guides the people follow ‘one caste, one religion, one God.’ The monopoly of Brahmins comes to an end. Guru establishes temples throughout Kerala. Unni Namboodiri mingles with the Dalits and takes part in all progressive movements led by Kumaran Asan.
Unni Namboodiri is thrown out of this house when Iravi Namboodiri comes to know of his son’s love affair with Paaru. Iravi Namboodiri’s men also thrash Maakkotha. The people revolt against Namboodiri and communal riots break out. Guru intervenes and frays down tempers. Unni Namboodiri weds Paaru bringing the film to a happy end.
M. B. Sreenivasan composed the music for the lyrics penned by P.Bhaskaran and Nambyath. Yesudas started his playback singing career rendering the lines Jaathi bhedam mathadwesham ethumillaathe sarvarum… This was also the debut film of singer Kamala Kailasnathan. The duet she sang with K. P. Udayabhanu, Karunasagarame kaniyu Gurudeva… became a huge hit. Other hits include Attention penne kaanumbol njan oru kaarirumbu…(Yesudas-Shanta P. Nair), Enthu cheyyendathengottu…(P.Leela), and Maalika muttathe mavine mohichu...(Leela).
Will be remembered: As the debut film of playback singers K. J. Yesudas and Kamala Kailasnathan and actor K. R.Vijaya. And as a National Award winning regional film.