Jupiter Pictures had more than one movie on the anvil at any given time, and, during 1948, this unit released another film besides Mohini, a mythological, Abhimanyu. This film introduced a new director A. Kasilingam, who was an editor at Jupiter. A new hero also made his debut as Abhimanyu. His name was S. M. Kumaresan. The success of this film brought him laurels but sadly he faded fast from the scene. Lack of discipline and such factors were alleged to have been the causes for this. In Abhimanyu, a young man, blessed with wit, brilliance, a facile pen and silver tongue, wrote the dialogue, then assisting A. S. A. Sami, who was credited for the script in the titles. This man who got no credit, was a man of destiny, who would create history not only as a script-writer but also as a political leader, a man of the masses, a person of rare charisma. His name was Muthuvel Karunanidhi!

(Sami told this writer years later that Karunanidhi, then unknown, used to spend the entire day with him at his residence and work on the script, writing the dialogue for Abhimanyu. He received a nominal three-digit salary per month during that period though his contribution was immense. This writer made a TV documentary on Sami during the 1980s when he narrated these details during the shooting breaks.)

Even a cursory study of the dialogue will reveal that the man behind the lines was Mu. Ka. His later day trademark alliterations, cascades of Tamil language and the clinching evidence of his penmanship in a single line of dialogue say it all — MGR who plays Arjuna, a minor role in the movie, gives a funeral oration after the death of his son in the battle. He describes him as “Anbu Tamizh magan!” In one stroke, Karunanidhi made Abhimanyu a son of the Tamil soil and shifting Mahabharatham to this part of the country!

MGR’s name appears fourth in the credits as ‘M. G. Ramachandar’. Indeed, he appears in the film only after the Kurukshetra war breaks out between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Handsome Narasimha Bharathi plays Lord Krishna with conviction and charm, while Vatsala, Balaraman’s (M. G. Chakrapani) daughter, was played by the then popular heroine U. R. Jeevaratnam.

The music was a plus point (S. M. Subbaiah, C. R. Subbaraman, lyrics: Papanasam Sivan, Bhoomi Palakadas, Sundaravathiyar). ‘Pudhu vasanthamaamey vaazhviley?’ (voices: Jeevaratnam and Tiruchi Loganathan) became a hit.

(This popular song was actually composed by a lad who was working as an office boy under Subbaraman. For obvious reasons, his name never appeared in the credits. That youngster later created history in Indian Cinema as M. S. Viswanathan!)

The famed ‘Maya Bazaar’ episode was woven into the film with Pulimoottai Ramasami playing Gatodhgaja. Another excellent feature of this film was the fascinating cinematography by noted lensman of his day, W. R. Subba Rao, who was well known for his trick photography.

The dances were choreographed by T. C. Thangaraj, K. R. Kumar and the later day successful filmmaker Vedantam Raghavaiah.

The later day successful filmmaker M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar appears in this film without credit, playing more than one role. His brother who directed his films, M. A. Thirumugam, worked in the movie as an assistant editor on the staff of Jupiter Pictures, which then had the Central Studios on lease in Coimbatore. Well known character actors of the day played supporting roles — D. Balasubramaniam (Duryodhana), S. V. Subbaiah (Sakuni), M. R. Santhanam (Indra in disguise as a Brahmin), M. R. Santhanalakshmi (Subhadra) and M. S. S. Bhagyam (in the ‘Maya Bazaar’ episode.

Interestingly, the ‘Maya Bazaar’ episode does not find a place in the original version of the Mahabharata and, according to some scholars, was interpolated into the narrative by some of the Parsi drama companies of Bombay during the 19th Century.

M.G. Ramachandran, S. M. Kumaresan, U. R. Jeevaratnam, P. V. Narasimha Bharathi, Malathi, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, M. G. Chakrapani, M. N. Nambiar and M. S. S. Bhagyam

Remembered for: the melodious music, impressive cinematography and rich Tamil dialogue.