Sathyan, Madhu, Ambika, Prem Nawaz, Adoor Bhasi, Sukumari etc.

Chavittikuzhacha Mannu, a stage play written by Pulaakkattu Achutha Warrier, popularly known as P.A.Warrier in 1958, won the award for the best drama at the All Kerala Drama Festival held the same year at Trichur. The play was staged successfully at all the main centres in Kerala and various parts of the country. In 1965, it was made into a film titled Ammu by M. Kesavan under the banner of Vasanthi Chithra. Warrier wrote the script and dialogues for the film. But the film was a ‘poor’ performer at the box office. The box office failure of screen versions of successful stage plays was not new.

The screen versions of exceptionally successful plays like Puthiya Akasam Puthiya Bhoomi (1962) and Atom Bomb (1964) are examples. The change in the title of the drama for its film version is attributed as a reason, to some extent, for the failure by some film critics.

The emotional family drama was reminiscent of Norwegian playwright Henrik Isben’s social dramas. Directed by N. N. Pisharady, the film was shot at Venus and Prakash Studios. Some of the songs tuned by M. S. Baburaj became hits.

A multi-starrer, Ammu had popular artistes like Sathyan, Madhu, Prem Nawaz, Adoor Bhasi, Ambika and Sukumari acting in it.

Shekharan (Sathyan) lives in a remote village in Kerala with his brother Bhasi (Madhu) and sister Sarada (Sujatha). The peaceful family atmosphere is thrown out of gear with the entry of Achumman (Adoor Bhasi), a distant relative of the family.

Bhasi and Sarada who loved Shekharan’s wife Ammu (Ambika) as a mother now turn against her because of the tricks played by Achumman.

Soon after, Shekharan leaves the family with his wife and daughter Thankam (Baby Saru) and they take refuge in Ammu’s house.

But ill fate follows Ammu to her home. Kalyani Amma (P. K. Saraswathi) is not happy with her elder daughter Ammu who is married to a poor farmer. Kalyani Amma is fond of her younger daughter Saroja (Sukumari) who is married to a rich man. Her brother Appu (Prem Nawaz) also supports their mother. Quite helpless, Ammu continues at her home facing all humiliation.

Though her father Sankunni Nair (Premji) loves Ammu and her family, he was helpless before his wife. Shekharan is humiliated by Kalyani Amma in public during the marriage of her youngest daughter. This forces Shekaran to leave his in-law’s home with his wife and daughter.

The split between Shekharan and Bhasi results in partition of family assets. Shekharan moves to his portion of the land and builds his home there. With the support of other farmers in the village, Shekharan becomes a very successful farmer.

He succeeds in developing irrigation facilities of agricultural land in the village. By this time Bhasi had become a drunkard in the company of the wicked Achumman and loses all his wealth.

Sankunni Nair is unable to bear the separation of his beloved daughter Ammu and grand daughter Thankam. On a rainy and stormy night, he leaves home to meet his grand daughter.

Kalyani Amma repents for her cruelty towards Ammu. Bhasi, repenting his actions, also reaches Shekharan’s house. Shekharan and Ammu receive all of them happily, and the family drama reaches a happy ending.

Sathyan and Ambika impressed the audience with their natural acting. Deviating from his comic roles, Adoor Bhasi performed the villainous character quite impressively.

Eight songs written by Yusuf Ali Kechery were composed by Baburaj. Thedunnathaare ee shoonyathayil…. (S. Janaki) was an instant hit. Other hits include, Mayakkara manivarna… (P. Leela), Ambili mama va va…. (P.Susheela), Konji konji paattu paadum….. (K. P. Udayabhanu, Janaki), and Aattinakkare aalin kombile... (Thankam).

Will be remembered: For some of the songs, especially for Thedunnathaare ee Shoonyathayil…. (Janaki) and as a good family drama.