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Updated: May 4, 2013 16:23 IST
BLAST FROM THE PAST

Maappillai (1952)

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Good vs. evil. A still from Maappillai
Special Arrangement Good vs. evil. A still from Maappillai

T.R. Ramachandran, P.K. Saraswathi, T.K. Ramachandran, P.V. Narasimha Bharathi, P.S. Veerappa, M.N. Rajam, M. Lakshmiprabha, V.K. Ramasami, K.A. Thangavelu, M. Saroja, M.S.S. Bhagyam, K. Lakshmikantham, Ragini, ‘Kaka’ Radhakrishnan, C.S. Pandian, R. Balasubramaniam and T.K. Pushpavalli

T.R. Raghunath was one of the successful Tamil filmmakers of yesteryears. The younger brother of another noted filmmaker Raja Chandrasekhar, Raghunath started his career as a sound recordist in Srinivasa Cinetone working under the first woman audiographer of South Indian cinema, Meenakshi Ananathanarayanan. (Apparently, Meenakshi, the wife of A. Narayanan who established the first sound recording studio in Madras city, worked at the audio console dressed in her ‘madisaar’!)

Raghunath then went to Bombay, where he joined his brother Chandrasekhar and learnt the ropes of filmmaking. One of the successful films of Raghunath was Maappillai (1952) produced by National Productions. V.N. Sambandam, writer and actor, wrote the screenplay and dialogue. His wife P.K. Saraswathi was a prominent star in those years and played the lead role in this movie. Lyrics were by noted lyricist and screenwriter Thanjai Ramaiah Das while they were set to tune by T.R. Papa and N.S. Balakrishnan. The film was shot at Newtone Studio, one of the most active studios then. Sadly, the studio does not exist today. P.S. Selvaraj and R. Sampath handled the camera. Noted playback singers such as P. Leela, Jikki, Rani, Ratnamala, (Radha) Jayalakshmi, A.M. Raja and Jayasakthivel lent their voices to the songs.

The film narrated the tale of a Madras city-based businessman (R. Balasubramaniam) in whose printing press T.R. Ramachandran works as an office boy. Fortune favours him, and he becomes a rich man and is hated by the son of the printing press, the villain (T.K. Ramachandran) who vows to destroy the new rich man and take away his wealth. Kumar (Narasimha Bharathi) is a popular medical practitioner of the city and a do-gooder. The villain’s sister Nalini (P.K. Saraswathi) is attracted to the doctor, but the villain gets her married to the hero. The villain plans to kill the hero and shift the blame to the doctor. What happens to his evil designs and how justice triumphs form the rest of the story.

The film had a formidable cast. T.R. Ramachandran, the saucer-eyed actor known as ‘The Eddie Cantor of India’ gave an impressive performance, as did Narasimha Bharathi. P.K. Saraswathi who was mainly playing vamp roles then, did her role well as the heroine. T.K. Ramachandran, the well-known villain of the day, was his competent self. M.N. Rajam, not yet a star, played the minor role of the doctor’s nurse and was paired with ‘Kaka’ Radhakrishnan. ‘Sariyana Dose Kodukkavenum’, a duet featuring Rajam and ‘Kaka’ Radhakrishnan, was a satire on men, mores and morals, and proved to be hit.

Remembered for the performances of T.R. Ramachandran, Narasimha Bharathi and P.K. Saraswathi, and the satirical duet.

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