M.G. Ramachandran, B. Saroja Devi, T.R. Ramachandran, S.A. Asokan, Nagesh, Manorama, P.D. Sambandam, M.S.S. Bhagyam, S.V. Ramadas, T.P. Muthulakshmi and Madhavi

Come September is a popular Hollywood movie of 1963 featuring Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida. This movie, directed by the noted filmmaker Robert Mulligan, was a hit around the world, including India where it had a successful run in places like Madras.

One of the contributing factors for its success was the popular title music, ‘Come September,’ and the long-playing record, rendered by the famous American musician Billy Vaughn, was a bestseller even in Madras city.

The movie narrated the tale of Robert (Rock Hudson), an American millionaire, who arrives early for his annual vacation at his luxurious Italian villa. His long-time girlfriend Lisa (Gina Lollobrigida) has given up waiting for him to “pop the question,” and has decided to marry another man. Meanwhile, his sneaky villa manager Maurice secretly converts the villa into a hotel when the boss is away. The current guests of the “hotel” are a group of young American girls trying to fend off a gang of oversexed boys, led by Tony (famed singer Bobby Darin in his movie debut).

This interesting storyline was brilliantly adapted into a Tamil film by the multifaceted writer-director-producer A.C. Thirulokachandar, who was then working for the House of AVM writing screenplays and also making movies. ‘ACT’ hails from an upper middle-class family of Madras and after qualifying himself with an MA degree he worked hard to appear for the Indian Administrative Service without thinking of a job.

Even as a student he wrote stories and articles and was a voracious reader. His close friend and classmate P. Balasubramaniam, son of the South Indian movie pioneer R. Padmanabhan, introduced him to his father and soon he joined RP as his assistant and learnt the ropes of moviemaking, especially screenplay writing. Then he moved to the AVM unit where he made his debut as a filmmaker…

Anbe Vaa was all about JB (MGR), a wealthy industrialist, who decides to take a break at his Simla home away from business concerns. He lands there to find that his caretaker (Sambandam) has rented his house to Geetha’s (Saroja Devi) family, taken the rent and left for Kasi with his wife. His daughter Manorama and brother-in-law Nagesh are left in charge of the house and the guests. JB decides not to reveal his identity and pretends to be a wealthy man, Balu, willing to pay rent for a place in the house. Nagesh takes the money and gives him JB’s room.

Balu keeps playing practical jokes on Geetha and they keep clashing. She brings her friends who are on a trip to Simla and tries to drive JB from the house. After he gets the friends on his side, she gets angry and tells her parents to get her married to Asokan, a relative and an Air Force pilot.

By the time Balu confesses his love for her, Geetha’s engagement is already fixed. Asokan turns out to be a school friend of JB, but he also agrees to play along with the trick. Asokan discovers that Balu and Geetha are actually in love with each other and steps aside. When Balu’s true identity is known, Geetha thinks that the wedding plans are yet another of his practical jokes and tries to run away. He finds her and all misunderstandings are cleared. The two get married.

The screenplay was brilliantly written by ACT. MGR’s performance as the rich man posing as a tenant was impressive. Nagesh was inimitable. Saroja Devi looked glamorous in her glossy make-up and costume.

One of the major plus points was its melodious music (composer M.S. Viswanathan working on his own after separating from his erstwhile partner T.K. Ramamurthi). Many songs became hits. The opening song, ‘Puthiya Vaanam Puthiya Bhoomi’ (lyrics: Vaali and voice: T.M. Soundararajan) filmed on MGR sporting a red and black striped coat in Simla and other areas, had a political touch. It was brilliantly photographed by master lens man S. Maruthi Rao. ‘Rajavin Paarvai’ (TMS and P. Suseela) is another hit number.

The film was produced by the sons of AV. Meiyappan — Murugan, Saravanan and Balasubramaniam.

With so many plus points, Anbe Vaa turned out to be a box office hit….

Remembered for the impressive performances by MGR, Nagesh and Saroja Devi, melodious music, interesting storyline and screenplay, picturesque cinematography which captured the beautiful landscape of the Himalayan region, and the fabulous sets in true AVM style.