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Updated: July 15, 2010 20:44 IST

Chitrangi (1964)

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AVM. Rajan, Pushpalatha, R. S. Manohar, Sheela, Ramadas, A. Karunanidhi, Pushpamala, Kannan, Navamani, Sulochana, Arunadevi

When Modern Theatres announced this film, many thought it would be a rehash of the old folk myth, Sarangadhara. However, it was quite different, coming from the house of T. R. Sundaram. Chitrangi was the tale of a king, princes and poor women, deftly directed by editor-turned-director R. S. Mani.

The king has a brother (AVM. Rajan) and an ambitious commander eyeing the throne (Manohar). Escaping from the kingdom, the brother meets with an accident and is saved by a young woman (Pushpalatha) who takes him to her humble home and looks after him. The two fall in love. The young woman who has no knowledge of her lover's identity marries him and he leaves her even before their wedding night. She suffers in silence, and then sets out to find her husband. She undergoes many trials and tribulations and finally reaches the capital of the kingdom where she is shocked to find that the king is none other than her husband! More intrigues follow preventing her from joining her husband. However, the problems are solved and the two live happily thereafter...

R. S. Mani, a native of Salem, began his career as editor and had the privilege of working with the American Tamil filmmaker Ellis R Dungan on his film Kalamegam (1938) which featured nagaswaram legend T. N. Rajaratnam Pillai in the lead. Later, Mani joined Jupiter Pictures where he worked as editor and got his break as director with the Jupiter box office bonanza Kannagi (1942). Immediately, he directed another Jupiter film, Kubera Kuchela (1943), a surprise hit featuring P.U. Chinnappa and T. R. Rajakumari.

There was no looking back after these hits, and Mani went on to make many popular movies such as Krishna Bhakthi and Devaki, and turned producer with the successful film, Maman Magal.

Surprisingly, he took to religion later and moved away from the world of films, forgetting all about lens and lightsHe passed away some years ago.

AVM. Rajan and Pushpalatha met during the AVM production, Nanum Oru Penn, fell in love and got married. They appeared in many movies together and one of them was Chitrangi. However, they were not as successful as they were expected to be.

A. Karunanidhi, the talented in-house comedian of Modern Theatres, and Pushpamala provided comic relief. Pushpamala was popular for some time but later faded into oblivion.

Chitrangi was a characteristic Modern Theatres production with fast-paced storytelling — it was sharply edited, which is not surprising, considering Mani was a top-class editor.

However, the film did not prove successful at the box office. It was released after the sad demise of Modern Theatres boss and South Indian movie mogul T. R. Sundaram in 1963 during the making of Konjum Kumari featuring Manohar and Manorama in lead roles.

Remembered for the fast-paced narration and deft direction of R. S. Mani.

Keywords: Chitrangi

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