T.R. Mahalingam, ‘Sowcar’ Janaki, ‘Kuladeivam’ Rajagopal, M.N. Rajam, N.S.K. Mathuram, C.S. Pandian, ‘Stunt’ Somu, Rushyendramani, Karikol Raju, Leela Bai, Goperaj and R.M. Manorama
Cinematographer, screenwriter, director, producer and studio owner, the multi-talented R. M. Krishnaswami made movies in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. His most successful film was the Sivaji Ganesan-starrer Thookku Thookki which kept the producer-director happy and financially comfortable all his life.
Trained by veterans such as R. Prakash and T.R. Sundaram, he promoted his own company under the name Aruna Films and made his debut film Rajambal which introduced the amateur stage actor R.S. Manohar as the hero. The film was a hit, and soon Manohar became a successful character actor and villain. Abalai Anjugam was a social melodrama written by the successful short story writer of his day, Ki. Ra. Gopalan (he also wrote under the pen name ‘Kaattur Kannan’). The screenplay and dialogue were by A.L. Narayanan who penned many successful Tamil films.
The lyrics were by noted movie poets Kannadasan, Marudhakasi, Suratha, Thanjai Ramaiah Das, Udumalai Narayana Kavi and A.L. Narayanan. The icon of south Indian film music, K.V. Mahadevan, assisted by the talented Pugazhendi, composed the music.
Well-known off-screen singers P. Susheela, P. Leela, S. Janaki, Rajalakshmi, Ratnamala, S.C. Krishnan, and A.L. Raghavan lent their voices. There was a dance sequence by noted dancer and actor L. Vijayalakshmi, choreographed by Dandayudhapani Pillai and P.S. Gopalakrishnan. P. Madhusudhan Rao handled the camera and the film was shot at Paramount and Golden Studios, which have vanished today.
R.M. Venugopal, the producer’s brother, edited the movie.
This film earned a footnote in the history of Tamil Cinema as the one that introduced the star actress of a thousand movies, C.R. Manorama, whose name appeared in the credit titles as ‘R.M. Manorama.’
Anjugam, a young woman, is the daughter of a boxer Govindan. She goes to prison for a month for a petty theft. On being released from jail, she goes to meet zamindarini Parvathi Ammal for a recommendation letter to get a job. While on her way, a rowdy, Sokkan, stops her and takes her back to her modest house.
A mysterious woman snatches the letter from Anjugam and tells her that she should stay in her own home and not go anywhere else. Somehow getting hold of the letter, Anjugam goes to meet the zamindarini, but once again, she is stopped in her tracks by Sokkan. However, a case of theft of a jewel is foisted on her…
The zamindarini has a nephew Vijayan who goes missing and another villain in her bungalow tries to pass off Sokkan, who bears a resemblance to the missing man! More complications arise and finally, the villains are exposed, and everything ends happily.
T.R. Mahalingam, who made a splash as a boy actor in Nandakumar produced by AV. Meiyappan, played the dual role of Vijayan and Sokkan. Possessing a melodious voice, which resembled that of the iconic singer S.G. Kittappa, Mahalingam was a much sought-after actor for some time. Later, he launched his own production house in the name of his son Sukumar. Sadly, his ventures landed him in trouble.
Abalai Anjugam, directed by RMK (as he was popularly known), fared fairly well at the box office.
Remembered For: the interesting narration of the talented director, good performances of ‘Sowcar’ Janaki, M.N. Rajam, and T.A. Mathuram (credited as NSK Mathuram), and as the debut film of Tamil Cinema’s iconic star Manorama.