Sivaji Ganesan, Savithri, M. N. Rajam, Serukalathur Sama, J. P. Chandra Babu, P. Kannamba, T. S. Balaiah, O.A.K. Thevar, E. V. Saroja, E. R. Sahadevan, Mohana, Kamalamma, Gopikrishna and Kamala Laxman (Shiva-Parvathi dance) and Joshi and Gopal (hunter, hen and chickens dance)
Produced under the banner R.R. Pictures and directed by T. R. Ramanna, this film was written by Thuraiyur K. Murthi (who wrote most of Ramanna’s movies) and was virtually a rehash of the 1941 super hit Aryamala which elevated the hero P.U. Chinnappa to the heights of stardom.
This film narrated the popular tale of Kaathavarayan and Aryamala, and was all about Parvathi being cursed by Lord Shiva who creates a third son, Kaathavarayan, (besides Muruga and Vinayaka).
He is brought up by hunters and protected by Parvathi who prays to Shiva on a riverbank. Seeing a celestial beauty, Ilankanni, bathing in a river, the hero (Sivaji Ganesan) is drawn towards her and tries to make love to her, and she drowns herself….Lord Shiva curses his son that he will be impaled to death.
Ilankanni is reborn to a rajaguru who predicts a tragic life for her, but the king adopts her and names her Aryamala (Savithri). Kaathavarayan falls in love with Aryamala and tries to win her heart using several disguises. He turns himself into a parrot thanks to a magician friend (Balaiah)! Aryamala takes the bird and plays with it! Changing form again at night, he ties a ‘thaali’ around her neck which she is fast asleep. On waking up, she is shocked and tries to drown herself again when Lord Krishna saves her and changes her into a stone. It will regain life only when touched by Kaathavarayan! The hero is arrested by the king and taken to be impaled when Parvathi prays to Krishna who saves him. Kaathavarayan and Aryamala live happily thereafter…
The film had melodious music by G. Ramanathan. The lyrics were by Thanjai Ramaiah Das and the songs were rendered off-screen by T. M. Soundararajan, P. Leela, P. Suseela, Jikki, Jamuna Rani, K. Rani, S. C. Krishnan, A. P. Komala, Ghantasala and C. S. Jayaraman. Some of the songs such as ‘Vaa kalaba mayiley’ by TMS and ‘Vidhiyaa …sathiyaa’ by C. S. Jayaraman became huge hits.
To make this film different from the successful 1941 P.U. Chinnappa version (Aryamala), Ramanna added several song and dance numbers. There was a classic Shiva-Parvathi dance rendered by the famous Gopikrishna and Kamala Laxman (later Kamala Lakshminarayanan) which was choreographed by dance maestro Vazhuvoor B. Ramaiah Pillai. There was also a chorus dance known as ‘Kozhi Natyam’ (hen, chickens and hunter), executed at great expense.
As it usually happened in those days in Tamil mythological films, words such as ‘Dungara suppanna…..gumkaara kuppanna’ were used in the songs in this film too!
The film had pleasing cinematography with the camera being handled by T. K. Rajabathar, Ramanna’s brother. There were also dance numbers rendered by Chandrababu, E. V. Saroja and M. N. Rajam.
After the thumping success of Parasakthi (1952), Sivaji Ganesan’s films tended to have dialogue in high flown Tamil with alliterations galore. This film too had the same characteristics which made it look like a filmed play in many places. Indeed, the noted Tamil weekly, Kumudham gave a one-line remark, calling the film ‘Kattharavaayan!’
Remembered for the pleasing music, song and dance numbers and the performances by Sivaji Ganesan and Savithri.