K. E. Mathai, popularly known as “Parappurath”, is well known for his social novels and short stories set in the backdrop of the military. Ninamaninja Kalpadukal (1963), Adya Kiranangal (1964), Anveshichu Kandethiyilla (1967) are National Award winning films in the category of regional films. These were film versions of his novels with the same titles. Aranazhikaneram (1970) based on his eponymous novel went on to win laurels at the Kerala State Film Awards in various categories.
Pani Theeratha Veedu released on January 19, 1973 was based on a social novel with the same title and this film also won the National Award in the regional films category.
The film won the Kerala State Award for best direction (K.S. Sethumadhavan), best story (Parappurath), best playback singer (P. Jayachandran), best child artist (Baby Sumathi) apart from the award for the best film of the year.
Produced under the banner of ‘Chithrakalakendram’ and directed by K.S. Sethumadhavan, the dialogues written by the novelist ‘Parappurath’ were noteworthy.
Shot at Prasad Studios, the main outdoor location, the film showcased beautiful landscapes of Ooty. The cinematographer, Mehli Irani, impressed the audience with his brilliant work. Music composed by M. S. Viswanathan was excellent.
The film tells the story of a simple and kind-hearted young man, Jose (Prem Nazir), who is employed in an office in Ooty. His father (S. P. Pillai) is a drunkard and neglects the family comprising his mother (Philomina) and sister Kunjumol (Junior Sheela).
Jose’s ambition in life is completing the construction of his pani theeratha veedu (unfinished house) in their village in Kerala. Thankayyan (Govindankutty) arranges for Jose’s accommodation in Ooty in the outhouse of a landlord (Abbas). The gardener Kunjikkannan’s (Veeran) adopted daughter Leela (Shobhana) loves Jose as an elder brother.
Kunjikkannan’s wife Rosy (Adoor Pankajam) forces Leela to flirt with the landlord. Jose tries to protect Leela from getting ensnared in Rosy’s trap.
Jose saves Rachel (Nanditha Bose), a school teacher from drowning in the lake. Rachel is an unwed mother. Her lover Hari (Prem Prakash) abandoned her when she was pregnant. Rachel’s daughter Roshni (Baby Sumathi) loves Jose and the emotional bond between them is very strong. Jose loves Rachel and Roshni and dreams of a family life with them.
But fate intervenes and thwarts Jose’s hopes and dreams. Leela is violated by landlord and his henchmen. Jose cannot realise his dreams of a family life with Rachel because she loves him as she would a brother.
The sub-plot of the film tells the story of Moideen (Bahadur) and his disturbed family life, the turbulence in Vasu’s (Alamoodan) family because of his quarrelsome wife Sarasu (Saraswathi) and his father (E. Madhavan). Jose brings peace to Vasu’s family , but is unable to help Moideen before his death by providing financial assistance.
Jose’s drunkard father dies and his wish of seeing his son before his death remains unfulfilled.
The emotional setbacks and disappointments change Jose’s attitude towards life. Jose decides to join the army and offers the rest of his life to the country.
The film ends with Jose leaving Ooty by train, Rachel and her daughter bid goodbye to him. Nandita Bose and Prem Nazir impressed the audience by their histrionic skills.
The film dispensed with the usual comedy scenes which were included in films those days to attract audiences.
Picturisation of the song ‘Kannuneer Thulliye Streeyodupamicha…’ was impressive. The injustice towards women was depicted by paintings of scenes from mythology. The rendering of the stanzas and the interlude prose in the tenor voice of M.S. Viswanathan was a novel experience to the audience. Songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and tuned by M.S. Viswanathan became super hits. Instant hits were ‘Suprabhatham, Suprabhatham…’ (Jayachandran), ‘Kannuneer Thulliye Sthreeyodupamicha…’ (M.S. Viswanathan) and ‘Kaattumozhukkum Kizhakkottu…’ (Jayachandran, Latha). Other hits include ‘Aniyam Maniyam Poykayil…’ (Suseela), ‘Vaa Mummy Vaa Mummy…’ (Latha) and ‘Maaril Syamanthakarathnam…’ (L. R. Easwari).
National and State award winning film under various categories and its excellent music
Correction: The Old is Gold column dated May 6, 2013 erroneously stated that the producer of the film, ‘Anubhavangal Palichakal’, M.O. Joseph, had passed away. It was Joseph Manjila who had passed away. The error is regretted.