Sathyan, Prem Nazir, K.P. Ummer, Bahadur, Adoor Bhasi, Sankaradi, Sheela, Jaybharathi, Adoor Bhavani etc.

‘Kadalpaalam' was a very popular professional play authored by the renowned dramatist K. T. Mohammed. The play, with a social theme, was written in early 1960s for the Kollam-based troupe Kalidasa Kalakendram and staged throughout the state and outside before being published in book form in 1965. The book was also a best seller.

The wide popularity of this family drama prompted M. O. Joseph to produce the screen version of the play. It was produced by Manjilas and used the same title. It is considered as one of the most successful screen adaptations of a stage play in Malayalam. Directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan, the script and dialogues were written by K.T. Mohammed. The film won for KT the Kerala State Film Award for best dialogue in 1969. The camera was by Melli Irani and editing by M. S. Mani.

The play had a pier (kadalpaalam) prominently visible through the windows of the mansion. It is here that the important incidents in the story take place. The film also used a pier as a very symbolic property. It symbolised the life of the central character, the central theme of the film. The pier allows traffic only from one side unlike the common bridges. The story line matched with the symbol and this was a very novel experience. The film was successful in projecting the idea behind such a symbol through impressive dialogues.

Popular stars of the time starred in the film. Sathyan acted in double role; as the stubborn father and the equally rigid son who fights against the injustice of his father. Prem Nazir, K. P. Ummer, Bahadur, Sheela , Jayabharathi, Adoor Bhavani etc. were the other popular stars who acted in the movie.

The story revolves round the family of Narayana Kaimal (Sathyan), a leading advocate who loses his eyesight. Kaimal is a strict disciplinarian and always tries to impose his thoughts and principles on his children and fellow beings. This creates a conflict with others. Kaimal's elder son Raghu (Sathyan) dislikes the obstinate nature of his father leading to constant conflicts between the two. Kaimal's younger son Prabhakaran (Ummer) who is an advocate and daughter Geetha (Jayabharathi) try to obey their father, but at times they only pretend to obey him. Kaimal now sees the world through the eyes of his faithful servant Appu (Bahadur).

Prabhakaran is in love with Sarala (Sheela), daughter of Kaimal's servant Sreedharan Pillai (Sankaradi). Geetha is in love with Murali (Prem Nazir), the adopted son of Kadeeja (Adoor Bhavani), who lives in the neighbourhood. Appu is warned against telling anything about the love affairs to Kaimal. Raghu believes that they lost their mother at very young age only because of the arrogance of their father. Raghu is married to Prashanthi (Vijayachandrika) who was his father's choice.

Raghu shows his protest by his rude behaviour towards his wife. Kaimal demands to give back the tile factory which he had given to Raghu. But Raghu refuses to part with the factory. Kaimal files a court case against his son.

Geetha marries Murali and Raghu supports them. Kaimal regains his eyesight and is thunderstruck to know about the happenings that took place while he was blind. He decides to pretend to be blind so as to know more about his children. Only Appu is aware that Kaimal is now not blind. Kaimal plots to stop the marriage of Prabhakaran. He offers partnership of the factory to the manager Nanukuttan Nair (Adoor Bhasi) if he could help conduct the marriage of his son, who is a police inspector, with Sarala. Nair agrees to carry out the crooked plan.

The verdict of the court goes against Kaimal. But Prabhakaran hides this from his father. Prabhakaran does not allow Geetha to meet Kaimal and when Kadeeja come and raises voice for justice, Kaimal hits her. Murali attacks Kaimal and now all come to know that Kaimal is not blind. Prabhakaran comes to know about the crooked plan of his father. All the children turn against Kaimal. Unable to stand the setback and the thought that he had failed in his attempts to control his children with an iron hand he suffers a heart attack and dies.

Sathyan excelled in his double role. The film dispensed with comic scenes. Deviating from their usual comedy roles, Bahadur and Adoor Bhasi performed character roles in the film. Bahadur's performance as the faithful servant who is under pressure to act against his conscience is considered as one of the best he has essayed. Prem Nazir, Sheela, Jayabharathi and Adoor Bhavani also performed their roles impressively.

In the 1940 Hindi film ‘Prem Nagar', produced and directed by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani, there is a similar situation. The hero of the film becomes blind and regains the eyesight subsequently. He pretends to be blind to test the real attitude and behaviour of others towards him. This box office hit was the first film of music composer Naushad. The script and dialogues of the Hindi film was by the German screenplay writer Willy Haas, who was associated with world classics like ‘The Burning Soil' (1922), ‘Joyless Street' (1925) and ‘One Does Not Play With Love' (1926).

Four songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma were tuned by G. Devarajan. The music was excellent. All the songs turned super hits. The film introduced playback singer P. Madhuri and the song sung ‘Kasthuri thailamittu mudi minukki...' was an instant hit. This was the first Malayalam film of S. P. Balasubramaniam. He rendered the haunting solo ‘Ee kadalum marukadalum...' P Leela got the Kerala State Award for the best playback singer for the song ‘Ujjayaniyile gayika...' The folk-based duet sung by K. J. Yesudas and B. Vasantha, ‘Inney poy inney poy...' was another popular hit.

Will be remembered: As the debut film of singers P Madhuri and first Malayalam film of S. P. Balasubramaniam. For the excellent music. And as a very successful screen adaptation of a stage play.

Keywords: Kadalpaalam