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Updated: May 31, 2014 17:04 IST
Blast from the Past

Kathanayaki (1955)

Randor Guy
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The poster of Kathanayaki.
Special Arrangement The poster of Kathanayaki.

Padmini, T.R. Ramachandran, M.N. Rajam, K.A. Thangavelu, K. Malathi, T.K. Ramachandran, K.S. Angamuthu, A. Karunanidhi, P.S. Gnanam, P.D. Sambandam, K.R. Jayagowri, K.K. Soundar, M.R. Santhanam, V.P.S. Mani, T.K. Kalyanam, Jayasakthivel, S. Ramarao, M.R. Sundaram, R.M. Sethupathi, Rajasekharan, Raju and Nagaratnam

K. Ramnoth was, with associate A.K. Sekhar, the Ramnoth-Sekhar team that contributed immensely to cinema in more than one language. One of the most brilliant film technicians of India, Ramnoth was a screenwriter, filmmaker, editor, producer and more. Hailing from Poojapura near Thiruvananthapuram, Ramnoth had an interest in photography and came to Madras looking for better opportunities. He met a kindred soul in Murugadasa (Muthuswami Iyer), also a man of many talents, who was then publishing Sound and Shadow, a monthly fine arts magazine for which Sekhar was art director and layout designer. Instantly impressed with Ramnoth, Murugadasa and Sekhar invited him to join their editorial team, and that’s how the famous Murugadasa-Ramnoth-Sekhar trio was born.

The Ramnoth-Sekhar duo promoted a studio on the banks of the Adayar river named ‘Karthikeya’ along with a financier, and it was around this time that they met the iconic Telugu filmmaker B.N. Reddi and the three became good friends. Reddi promoted Vauhini Pictures and the trio made Telugu classics such as Devatha and Sumangali. In the credit titles of those movies first appeared the moniker ‘A Reddi-Ramnoth-Sekhar Production.’ Later, Ramnoth-Sekhar joined Gemini Studios where Ramnoth was Controller of Productions. His contribution to the S.S. Vasan-Gemini Studios magnum opus Chandralekha was great and the circus scenes with T.R. Rajakumari in the movie were shot by Ramnoth. Then both joined Jupiter Pictures, then in Coimbatore, and made a few films before moving over to Pakshiraja Studios where their Ezhai Padum Paadu became a classic.

Ramnoth made the mistake of trying his hand at production with Viduthalai (based on writer John Galsworthy’s The First and the Last). The movie failed and the losses he suffered affected his health and he passed away when he was hardly 49.

Indeed, a book on the Ramnoth-Sekhar duo waits to be written.

Kathanayaki was one of Ramnoth’s films made for the Salem-based movie mogul T.R. Sundaram of Modern Theatres. The romantic comedy featured Padmini and T.R. Ramachandran, the famed comedian and character actor. The story is set in a drama company. Padmini leaves home and joins a drama troupe whose owner (TRR) falls in love with her. She faces many problems and how she and her boyfriend solve them forms the rest of the plot. M. N. Rajam plays her friend.

This film had an impressive cast. Thangavelu, then making his way to the top, A. Karunanidhi and S. Rama Rao provided the laughs and they were well supported by K.K. Soundar, M.R. Santhanam, T.K. Ramachandran and V.P.S. Mani.

The screenplay and dialogue were by T.K. Govindan. The lyrics were by Thanjai Ramaiah Das, Suratha and Kannadasan (who got his first break from Ramnoth in Kanniyin Kaathali). The music was by G. Ramanathan and the songs were rendered by P. Leela, A.M. Raja, Swarnalatha, Rani, S.C. Krishnan, D.B. Ramachandran and V.T. Rajagopal.

Thanks to the stage theme, there were quite a few drama scenes and dance sequences in the film. One song ‘Namma idly sambaaar….’ became popular. The duet ‘Karpanai Ulaginiley’ filmed on Padmini and Ramachandran was a big hit. The dances were choreographed by A. K. Chopra and Gopalakrishnan. Despite the impressive cast, pleasing music and fine direction, the film was only an average success and some critics attributed it to the predictability of the storyline.

Remembered for: The brilliant direction of Ramnoth, performances by Padmini, Rajam, Ramachandran and others, and the melodious music of G. Ramanathan.

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