Cast M. G. Ramachandran, V.N. Janaki, M. G. Chakrapani, P. S. Veerappa, ‘Pulimoottai' Ramaswami, C. K. Nagaratnam, C. K. Saraswathi, ‘Kottapuli' Jayaraman, N.S. Narayana Pillai, M.S. Thirupathisami, ‘Vishnu' Ramaswami, C. S. D. Singh, T. M. Ramasami Pillai and K. Meenakshi

An M.G. Ramachandran-V.N. Janaki-starrer, this film attained cult status for a telling reason that it was during the making of this movie the romance between them intensified, culminating in their marriage. The lead players soon became top stars. But that was not all. The couple had the distinction of becoming the only movie star couple who became the Chief Ministers of a State, Tamil Nadu. The two met when they worked together — not as an onscreen couple — on the ill-fated M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar comeback movie, Rajamukthi (1948). It was shot in Poona soon after MKT came out of prison. He had served a 30-month sentence in connection with the sensational Lakshmikantham Murder Case. The romance between MGR and Janaki began here and strengthened as seasons rolled by. They came together again in Coimbatore when they joined the Jupiter Pictures rolls at Central Studios which Jupiter took over on long lease. Jupiter cast them as lovers in Mohini (1948), written by A. S. A. Sami and directed by Telugu comedian and filmmaker Lanka Satyam. However, in the film, their role was limited with the focus being on the other pair of lovers, played by Madhuri Devi and T.S. Balaiah. Then came Maruthanaatu Ilavarasi. Written by Mu. Karunanidhi, this was the first film in which his name appeared in the credits as the writer. It was shot at Navajyothi Studios in Mysore. Produced by G. Govindan & Company, A. Kasilingam directed the movie besides handling the editing. The lyrics were by C.A. Lakshmana Das and K. P. Kamatchi. M. S. Gnanamani composed the music. G. Dorai handled the camera with distinction.

Maruthanaatu Ilavarasi is a well-woven story about a king (Veerappa) with two wives (one played by Saraswathi and the other does not appear in the movie!) and an evil-minded Minister (Chakrapani) whose sister is the younger queen. The two become pregnant and the evil genius persuades the king to believe that the senior queen had poisoned the junior queen out of sheer jealousy which the king tends to believe, but does not take any action. The frustrated Minister tries to eliminate the pregnant queen but she is saved by a courtier whom the Minister kills. The pregnant queen escapes many trials and gives birth to a son (MGR). He grows up and meets a young woman (Janaki) and her friend (Nagaratnam) and falls in love unaware that she is a princess. Their love grows and when he comes to know that she is a princess, he begins to distance himself from her. After many trials, the two come together and live happily.

The love sequences featuring MGR and Janaki were well-conceived and shot. These included bathing in a pond and the hero teaching her how to fence. Both look impressive. Maruthanaattu Ilavarasi fared well at the box office and established MGR and Janaki as a star pair sure to go places. Janaki found her place in the sun, playing the female lead in the historic milestone movie, Velaikari, Devaki and others.

Remembered for the interesting storyline and impressive performances of the lead pair, MGR and Janaki.

Keywords: Tamil cinema