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Updated: February 15, 2014 17:34 IST
blast from the past

Athiroopa Amaravathi 1935

RANDOR GUY
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T.N. Sivakozhundhu, T.S. Velammal, K. Ranganayaki, P.M. Sundarabhashyam, ‘Komaali’ P.K. Sambandhan, ‘comedian’ V.M. Ezhumalai, F.M. Arumugam, M.M. Kanakasabhai, K.K. Thangavelu Pillai, P.S. Krishnaveni and P.R. Swaminathan

A familiar folk tale of yester decades, this film was produced by Sundaram Talkies of Coimbatore at its studio, Sundaram Sound Studio at Madras (changing hands many times, it became Sathya Studio owned by the MGR family, and now houses the MGR-Janaki College for Women in Adyar).

The film was directed by the forgotten filmmaker of yesteryears C.V. Raman, a lawyer by qualification who proudly referred to himself in the credits of his films as C.V. Raman, B.A. LL.B. Hailing from Sivaganga, he was a cousin of the pioneer filmmaker Ananathanarayanan Narayanan who founded the studio Srinivasa Cinetone in Kilpauk.

Raman made many attempts at making films, but did not succeed in any appreciable manner. He was one of the early producers who promoted a studio on the site of Sundaram Sound Studio, taking the land on long lease (used as horse stable) from the Nawab of Arcot. The Western boundary was Greenways Road of today and the other border was the Adyar River leading to the Bay of Bengal. It changed hands later many times as mentioned above.

The story was all about a king Vichitrarajan (Sundarabhashyam, a well-known stage actor of the day) and his son Athiroopan (Sivakozhundhu, another popular actor of 1930s). While his father is anxious to marry his son and crown him the king, the prince wishes to go around the world and educate himself by on-hands study in several countries. With his father’s permission, he goes on such adventure with his friend Maadavyan (Ezhumalai, later a popular comedian of many Modern Theatres’ movies and was one of the earliest comedians to own a — Vauxhall — car!).

Both pray to their family goddess Kalimatha, and with her blessings, they set out in high spirits. While resting in a garden, the prince sleeps and is seen by a lovely princess, Amaravathi (Velammal). She falls in love with him and slips her ring onto his finger, removes his, wears it, and goes away with the prince still asleep.

Waking up, Athiroopan finds a new ring on his finger and wonders who put it on, and begins his search. Meanwhile, he meets another princess Ratnavali (Ranganayaki, a popular actor of the day) who falls for him. He promises the princess that he will marry her as soon as the mystery of the ring is solved. She agrees to wait for him while he goes through several adventures. His friend Maadavyan falls for another woman and leaves the prince to pursue his beloved! Athiroopan is kidnapped by a gang of vicious robbers, including a tough woman (Krishnaveni who played many vampish roles). Amaravathi is also kidnapped by the same gang. The lovers meet, and the mystery of the rings is solved to their sheer delight! They plan to escape from the robbers, with both pretending to be mad and they do it effectively. After many adventures, they escape and return to the kingdom accompanied by Ratnavali. Athiroopan marries both the princesses. The delighted father crowns his son the king, and the new king leads a happy life with his two queens. S.S. Sankaralinga Kaviraayar, a noted scholar and poet of that era, believed to have composed the music, wrote the lyrics too. The film had as many as 45 songs in several ragas with some of them inspired by popular Hindi film tunes of the day. There were even words such as aeroplane, joker and cushy in the songs. Of course, the critics and the crowds of those days never bothered about such literary niceties in a movie!

Some old-timers told this writer that the film had a successful run in spite of the predictable storyline because of the interesting adventures of the couple, the comedy scenes, and also the settings and costumes, which were done at considerable expense.

Remembered For The interesting storyline and the comedy sequences of Ezhumalai and ‘Komaali’ Sambandhan.

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