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Updated: August 10, 2013 16:30 IST
blast from the past

Nallavan (1955)

RANDOR GUY
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Nallavan, Cast: Manoharan, Rajasulochana
The Hindu Nallavan, Cast: Manoharan, Rajasulochana

R.S. Manohar, Serukalathur Sama, P.K. Saraswathi, Rajasulochana, M.N. Nambiar, V.K. Ramasami, C.K. Saraswathi, M.K. Musthafa, M.R. Santhanam, V.N. Sundaram, S. Revathi, ‘Baby’ Rajakumari, ‘Baby’ Sabitha, N. Thiruvengadam, K. Sayeeram, Bhoopathy, Nandaram, S.V. Shanmugham, ‘Master’ Pradeeshkumar, ‘Stunt’ Swaminathan, Ramaiah Sastry, Thoti Kannan

One of the finest actors of Tamil cinema, R.S. Manohar (originally Lakshminarasimhan), a graduate of the Madras University, was active in Tamil theatre during his college days and later, as the staff of the General Post Office, Madras. He was discovered by Tamil playwright, writer-director-producer A.T. Krishnaswami (ATK) and took his bow in the successful filmmaker R.M. Krishnaswami’s hit movie Rajambal, written by ATK. In that movie, he was paired with P.K. Saraswathi, a dancer-actor.

Manohar was a favourite of the South Indian movie mogul and Modern Theatres’ boss T.R. Sundaram — he acted in as many as 18 of Sundaram’s films. A well-deserved tribute to Manohar’s acting talent, especially his dialogue delivery, which TRS admired the most. Nallavan was one of his films in which Manohar played the hero (Interestingly, he was also the hero in movie wizard K. Ramnoth’s hit movie Thaai Ullam (1953) in which Gemini Ganesan played the villain!).

Produced by Sunrise Productions with story by O.K. Dorai and S. Raghavan and dialogue by veteran screenwriter A.L. Narayanan, the film was directed by M. Thiruvengadam. It was shot at Film Centre and Star Combines (neither exists today). M.S. Gnanamani provided the music, with lyrics by Thanjai Ramaiah Das. Gnanamani was active during a certain period, but is hardly remembered now except by old-timers.

It is all about a poor man who dies leaving two children, a boy and girl who wander the streets looking for food. They are separated, and the girl is brought up by a rich man (Ramasami) who names her Sundari (Rajasulochana). The boy is given shelter by a Christian priest (Serukalathur Sama) who names him Peter and brings him up as a Christian. The two study in a city college and fall in love. The priest’s neighbour Raghu (Nambiar) has mental illness and is married to Mallika (Saraswathi). She falls in love with Peter and they meet often until both are caught. Raghu’s illness becomes severe and he is admitted to an institution. Mallika decides to be by her husband’s side and forgets Peter. Soon wedding is fixed between Peter and Sundari, invitations are printed, and at the wedding, the truth comes out that. How the tangle is solved forms the rest of the film.

Manohar came out with an excellent performance as Peter while Rajasulochana as Sundari was her usual impressive self. Saraswathi as Mallika also gave a good performance. Sama was in top form in a role he had done in his earlier movies. Nambiar as Raghu too impressed. Seasoned veterans like Ghantashala, V.N. Sundaram, Tiruchi Loganathan, P. Leela, N.L. Ganasaraswathi and G. Kasturi lent their voices for the songs, but the music did not become popular. Kerala Sisters Leela and Vimala performed a fine dance number choreographed by T.C. Thangaraj and K.K. Sinha. In spite of the formidable cast, the unusual storyline, Nallavan did not do well at the-box office.

Remembered For The impressive performances of Manohar, Rajasulochana, Sama, Ramasami Saraswathi, Nambiar and others.

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