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Updated: July 8, 2010 18:41 IST

Naveena Vikramadityan (1942)

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Naveena Vikramadithan
Naveena Vikramadithan

N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, S. V. Sahasranamam, T. S. Durairaj, M. R. Swaminathan, P. S. Gnanam, T. S. Krishnaveni and P. R. Mangalam

Well-known Hollywood comedian Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) made several successful musical comedies. With his saucer eyes (which were his trademark), wisecracks and singing, he made people happy during the Depression Years of the early 1930s.

(While leaving a party in Los Angeles, the valet brought his old car and handed over his keys. Cantor told the man, “Buddy, sell the car and keep the change!”]

(Incidentally, the Tamil movie star of yesteryear, T. R. Ramachandran, with his big eyes was known as the ‘Eddie Cantor of India!')

One of Cantor's hit movies was Roman Scandals (1933) in which the hero (Cantor) goes to sleep, dreams that he is back in the Roman Empire, and becomes the toga-clad emperor himself! N.S. Krishnan rehashed this storyline and introduces a ‘katha kalakshepam' about King Vikramaditya, his role model. One day, his friend (Swaminathan) disagrees with him and knocks him down unconscious. Now NSK dreams that he has become the legendary King Vikramadityan himself! He undergoes many adventures along with Patti (Durairaj). He falls for ‘Pesamadanthai' (a princess who never talks and hates men, played by Mathuram!) and sets about to make her his own.

As the king, he roller-skates to travel faster along with Patti! During the 1940s, skating was unknown in this part of the world, and NSK with his passion for learning things underwent rigorous training in skating, practising for hours, unmindful of the falls, bruises and sprains he suffered!

(S. V. Sahasranamam told this writer years later that NSK skated around his home while talking to friends and visitors, and even had breakfast on roller-skates, driving his wife Mathuram and others around mad!) That was NSK, the perfectionist.

During those years, quite a few ‘packaged comedies' were released. N. S. Krishnan came out with his two-in-one, Naveena Vikramadityan – Buddhiman Balawan Avaan. In this package, one could notice the strong influence of Laurel and Hardy and their body language. As his fame grew, NSK promoted his own production unit, Ashoka Films, which had its office at Central Studios, Coimbatore, from where he turned out comedy shorts steadily. He released some, like this one, as a package and sold some to producers who released their films with NSK's short as a ‘side reel'. Often NSK's comedy short proved to be the major attraction in the films, helping the producers save their product!

During those years, there was a famous cartoon in a Tamil magazine…a movie like Harishchandra where everybody is shedding tears copiously on screen, when suddenly some people sitting in the balcony get up and shout, “Stop this sob stuff and screen an NSK comedy!” Such was NSK's popularity.

Buddhimaan Balavaan Avaan was about NSK realising that brains are more powerful than brawn, which helps him use a catchword to teach his friend, (Swaminathan), a lesson, pressing him to return the money due to him.

In all his comedies, NSK wrote the story and screenplay. He engaged the star writer Elangovan to write the dialogue for this film.

NSK's film unit was supported by his friend S. M. Sriramulu Naidu who was then associated with Central Studios, financially backed by Narayanan And Company, Madras.

More than five decades have elapsed since NSK passed away, and yet no artiste of his calibre has surfaced on the horizon of Indian Cinema till today.

Remembered for: NSK's skating and meaningful comedy.

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