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Updated: April 19, 2013 16:21 IST

Blast From the Past — Puthumai Pithan 1957

Randor Guy
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predictable storyline Puthumai Pittan
predictable storyline Puthumai Pittan

M.G. Ramachandran, T.R. Rajakumari, B.S. Saroja, T.S. Balaiah, J.P. Chandra Babu, E.R. Sahadevan, R. Balasubramaniam, C.S. Pandian, K.S. Angamuthu, E.V. Saroja, C.V.V. Panthulu and P.S. Venkatachalam

Written by Mu. Karunanidhi, this story of kings, princes and ambitious courtiers was essentially a traditional cloak-and-dagger costume drama with interesting elements that contributed to sustaining the interest throughout, though, at times, plot twists and turns were somewhat predictable. Mu. Ka’s pungent dialogue with subtle political innuendoes was spoken with much punch by MGR with both then being on the same side of the fence!

The king (Panthulu) is imprisoned by his ambitious brother (Balaiah) who creates the impression that the king died during a hunt. The crown prince (MGR) is away on a sea journey, and returns to the king’s fake funeral! However, during the funeral he comes to know the truth, thanks to a secret message conveyed to him by a bearded messenger who is really the daughter (B.S. Saroja) — in disguise — of the palace doctor (Balasubramaniam). Expectedly, she falls in love with the prince! The king’s brother plans to get rid of the prince too, by giving him a drug (provided by the palace doctor) to drive him mad.

The prince, of course, does not drink it, but pretends to, and behaves like a madman to fool everybody. An attractive woman (Rajakumari) who runs a drama group helps the hero, and, of course, falls in love with him. But in the end sacrifices her life and love, and unites the hero and the doctor’s daughter. The king is saved and the villains are destroyed by the hero and his sidekick (Chandra Babu).

MGR plays the adventurous role in his characteristic style and verve. Well-known singer C.S. Jayaraman lends his voice for MGR — it was before T.M. Soundararajan came on the scene. B.S. Saroja as the heroine gives a good performance, including in the sword fighting sequence with the masked hero. Not many are aware that Saroja trained in a circus troupe before she entered films.

Balaiah as the greedy king’s brother impresses, as usual, with his own style of dialogue delivery while Sahadevan — a good actor not much remembered today — plays the villainous commander. Chandra Babu too was in his element, and even sang the song ‘Thillana….’, which became quite popular. His sequences with another underrated comedian C.S. Pandian (a regular member of the N.S. Krishnan’s famed team) raises laughter. E.V. Saroja as the palace maid also makes an impact.

Directed by Ramanna, Rajakumari’s brother, the film was produced under the banner of K. Muniratnam and his Sivakami Pictures. Music was composed by G. Ramanathan with lyrics by Thanjai Ramaiah Das and most of the tunes were of the ‘light music’ variety.

The film had good cinematography, especially the outdoor sequences, shot well by the talented G.K. Ramu. Despite an impressive cast and Mu.Ka’s writing, the film did not fare well as expected, mainly because of the predictable storyline.

Remembered for MGR’s screen presence and charisma, impressive performances by the cast, and Mu. Ka’s writing.

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