Kubera Kuchela narrates a concocted tale inspired by Hindu mythology — how impoverished Kuchela (Papanasam Sivan), Lord Krishna’s boyhood friend, acquires wealth, which goes to his head. Driven by greed and ambition, Kuchela transforms himself into Kubera (Chinnappa).
In the film, there are three Kuberas — Kubera the Lord of Wealth (D. Balasubramaniam), Kuchela who transforms himself into Kubera (Chinnappa) and the third one, a demon transformed into Kubera (Chinnappa again). Meanwhile, Krishna (Govindan) creates a lovely woman (Rajakumari) out of a flower. Complications ensue with more than one Kubera falling for her. The ‘original’ Kubera steps in to establish his supremacy and more complications arise. However, Lord Krishna has his own bag of tricks and settles the confusion bringing the lovers (Chinnappa and Rajakumari) together.
Written by well known writer-playwright who also made a few movies, B. S. Ramaiah worked on the sets with the director of the movie R. S. Mani. Indeed their names appear jointly in the credits.
The film had excellent music by Carnatic musician Kunnakudi Venkatarama Iyer, assisted by N. S. Balakrishnan, with lyrics by Papanasam Sivan and Udumalai Narayana Kavi. The background music was composed by famed composer and sometime actor S. V. Venkataraman, and T. K. Ramanathan. The movie had 17 songs, including comic ones. ‘Nadai alankaaram kanden…’ (sung by Chinnappa and written by Narayana Kavi), composed in raga Karaharapriya, became a super hit. The other songs that became popular were ‘Maalai chooda vandhen Mallika…’ (voice Chinnappa, raga Khamaas) and ‘Ennai vittu engey senreer…’ (voice Rajakumari, raga Harikambodhi).
Papanasam Sivan as Kuchela sang a song which he composed himself ‘Kanna kanna kanna…’ in raga Kaapi. But no gramophone disc of this rare song by the icon was recorded.
The dances were choreographed by the celebrated Bharatanatyam guru, Vazhuvoor B. Ramaiah Pillai.
Chinnappa and Rajakumari made an excellent pair, and ‘the Dream Girl of South Indian Cinema’, then in her early 20s, was sensuous.
Noted stage and screen actor of the day P. S. Govindan played Lord Krishna and the comic relief was provided as usual by N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram and T. S. Dorairaj.
In one comic song, NSK plays a female role, while Mathuram plays Krishna.
Kubera Kuchela had excellent cinematography (Marcus Bartley) with impressive art direction by F. Nagoor and was shot at Newtone Studios, Kilpauk, Madras (now Rajaji School).
A little known fact about the histroy of Madras City — The film was released during the height of the Second World War when soldiers were milling around the city on motorbikes, heavy army trucks and cars. To attract them, the producers came up with an innovative poster, a first of its kind, a horizontal strip which contained the lines only in English — “Who Is Rich? Kubera or Kuchela? Watch The Movie!”
Remembered for: Chinnappa and Rajakumari’s excellent performance, great music, impressive cinematography and art direction.
Cast: P. U. Chinnappa, Papanasam Sivan, P. S. Govindan, T. R. Rajakumari, S. R. Janaki, R. Balasubramaniam, D. Balasubramaniam, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, M. K. Meenalochani, ‘Pulimootai’ Ramasami, L. Narayan Rao, T. S. Durairaj, P. G. (‘Alwar’) Kuppusami, T. V. Annapoorani and E. Krishnan