Starcast: Anandan, Natarajan, S P Pillai, Vaikom Mani, Geetanjali, Shanthi etc

Jungle movies, like those that had characters like Tarzan were extremely popular worldwide. Several such movies, with the jungles as the backdrop, were produced in various Indian languages. And most of them proved to be very successful too. Aana Valarthiya Vaanambaadi (1959) and Kaattu Maina (1963), films in the genre produced by Neela Productions, also set the box-office ringing.

Prompted by these earlier successes Neela Productions came up with another jungle movie, Kaattu Mallika in 1966, which also turned a huge hit.

Shot at Merryland Studios,the film was directed by P. Subramaniam. The story and dialogues were by the noted novelist Kaanam E. J. A few sequences and characters in the film resembled the Tamil movie Vanamohini (1941) produced by South India United Artists Corporation and directed by the noted Hindi film comedian Bhagwan.

The stunt scenes, shot under the direction of Pulikeshi, were highpoint of this adventure movie. Cinematography by E .N. C. Nair and editing by M. Gopalakrishnan were commendable. Also impressive were the folk dances choreographed by Parthasarathy. The film marked the debut of lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi. The music was by M. S. Baburaj.

The hero of this film, Anandan, a Tamil actor, stood out in his adventurous role. This was also the Malayalam debut of the popular South Indian actress Geethanjali. Comedian S. P. Pillai acted in double role.

The other artistes in the film included Paravur Bharathan, Vaikom Mani, and Shanthi.

The story of the film veers around two tribal groups settled in two mountain ranges in Kerala. Chemban (Natarajan), the chief of Pulippara Mountain takes a fancy in Mallika (Geetanjali), the daughter of the chief of Aanappara Mountain. But Mallika does not like Chemban, who is an enemy of her father. Mallika is saved from Chemban several times by an unknown person. And Mallika falls in love with this Unknown Hero, who is actually Vikraman (Anandan).

Veeran (Paravur Bharathan) supports Chemban in all his wicked plans. At the insistence of Veeran, the chief priest of Aanappara lays down a condition for Mallika’s marriage. The bridegroom has to fight and win over a hungry tiger. This is seen as a trap to kill Vikraman. The wicked plan fails. Vikraman kills the tiger in the fight. But the people begin to play dirty tricks and manage to send Vikraman away from the mountains.

Mallika and her father are trapped by Chemban and kept under custody. Mallika manages to escape with the help of her friend Thamara (Shanthi). Vikraman returns to find Mallika all alone and struggling in the jungle.

Disguised as tribal fortune tellers, Kuravan and Kurathi, Vikraman and Mallika, enter Chemban’s camp. Vikraman takes on Chemban and his men in combat and defeats them. All the innocent tribal men kept under custody by Chemban, including Mallika’s father are freed. Vikraman marries Mallika bringing the adventurous jungle story to a happy end.

Anandan impressed in the fight scenes. The comedy scenes involving S. P. Pillai were also appreciated.

Ten songs written by Sreekumaran Thampi were tuned by Baburaj. Thamarathoniyil aalolamaadi…(K. J. Yesudas-S. Janaki) , Avalude kannukal… (P. B. Sreenivas ), Penney nin kanniley… (Kamukara Purushotaman-B.Vasantha), Pandathe paattukal… (Kamukara ) became very popular.

The other hits include Kalyanamakaatha….(Janaki) and Maranathin nizhalil…(Kamukara).

Will be remembered: As the debut film of lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi and popular South Indian actor Geethanjali.