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Updated: March 3, 2012 18:57 IST

Kumara Raja 1961

Randor Guy
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A still from Kumara Raja.
A still from Kumara Raja.

J. P. Chandrababu, T. S. Balaiah, M. N. Rajam and Suryakala

Chandrababu, the talented singing star and comedian, was one of the leading figures of Tamil Cinema in the bygone era. Following his brilliant double role in the B. R. Panthulu's Shabash Meena, he became a sought-after actor. Producers and directors saw potential in him as a hero instead of a mere comedian. In some films such as Annai and Sahodari, he was brought on board late in the production to save the films which he did with his portrayals, natural and, of course, laugh-raising. There was a touch of the West in everything he did, including his singing, and he remains till today the only artist in Tamil Cinema who could ‘yodel.' One of the films in which he played the hero was Kumara Raja. He excelled in the song and dance sequences. The film was directed by G. K. Ramu, the talented cinematographer and filmmaker, and was produced by Muniratnam of Sivakami Pictures who also produced the MGR-starrer Puthumai Pitthan written by Mu. Karunanidhi.

Kumara Raja (Chandrababu) is the playboy son of a wealthy man (T. S. Balaiah). The father dreams of getting the right wife for his son whose only interests in life are to sing and dance with women. He has a young friend (Suryakala) with whom he sings and dances, while his father finds a modest girl to become his wife (Rajam). Life changes unexpectedly and, as it often happens in the movies, the hero turns over a new leaf thanks to his wife.

Kumara Raja became a memorable movie mainly because of its melodious music. Its popular songs include ‘Naan vandhusendha idam' (P. Leela), ‘Manamagalaga varum' (V. N. Sundaram) and ‘Onnumey puriyaley' (Chandrababu).

The composer who set to tune such songs was T. R. Papa. A violinist with great knowledge of Carnatic music, he began composing after gaining experience as an orchestra player in movies and his music in Joseph Thaliath's Iravum Pagalum won him much recognition.

The vamp in the movie was played by the Telugu starlet Suryakala. She rose to prominence with the Tamil film Anbu Engey, starring K. Balaji, Pandari Bai, Devika and S. S. Rajendran. In this film, the song picturised on Suryakala, ‘Minnal poochi jacket' became a hit. However, Suryakala did not make it to the top and sadly slipped into oblivion, eventually picking up whatever roles came her way.

The father's role was played by the brilliant character actor T .S. Balaiah. Interestingly, he sings a song ‘Manamagalaga varum' in the movie with voice lent by the Carnatic singer V. N. Sundaram, and it became a hit.

Remembered for the melodious music by T. R. Papa, with some songs becoming hits, and the impressive performances by Chandrababu and Balaiah.

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