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Updated: May 21, 2011 19:07 IST

Thangamalai Rahasiyam 1957

Randor Guy
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Interesting screenplay Thangamalai Rahasiyam
Interesting screenplay Thangamalai Rahasiyam

Sivaji Ganesan, T. R. Rajakumari, Jamuna, M. N. Nambiar, P. S. Veerappa, T. R. Ramachandran, M. V. Rajamma, B. Saroja Devi, K. S. Angamuthu, C.V.V. Panthulu, Ganapathi Bhat, Indra Acharya, M. S. Karuppaiah, K. Sarangapani and ‘Kottapuli' Jayaraman

Produced and directed by B. R. Panthulu, who gave hits in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, Thangamalai Rahasiyam had an impressive star cast led by Sivaji Ganesan. Panthulu began his life as a stage actor in Kannada and made his way to the top thanks to sheer guts and perseverance.

A folktale of kings, queens, princesses and ambitious young women, Thangamalai Rahasiyam had many twists and turns. Chinna Annamalai and Ve. Lakshmanan wrote it with dialogue by noted filmmaker Pa. Neelakantan. The screenplay was by one of the noted personalities of Tamil cinema, ‘Chitra' S. Krishnaswami. (For a while, he edited and published a movie magazine, Chitra, and hence the prefix for his name.)

Krishnaswami began his career in Delhi and came down to Madras to act in movies. He did play a major role in a forgotten film, Minmini, which was inspired by the sensational Lakshmikantham Murder Case. Due to many problems, financial and otherwise, the film was long in production and had a limited release and did not meet with success.

Krishnaswami later became a successful screenwriter and production controller, working for Panthulu. This association resulted in his becoming close to MGR and for many years he was handling his business affairs in India and abroad.

A well-read man, he wove the Greek tale of ‘King Midas and his Donkey's Ears' into this film — Ramachandran plays the character, a compulsive eavesdropper, and a magician gives him the donkey's ears!

Rajakumari as the princess is disappointed when a visiting prince mistakes her companion (Rajamma) for the princess, falls for her and marries her.

Frustrated, the princess sends the pregnant woman to a forest where she begets a son (Sivaji Ganesan). The kid goes missing. He is brought up by a herd of elephants! Growing up in such company, he has no knowledge of human language — he expresses himself in grunts and growls. Another princess (Jamuna) visiting the forest meets him and grooms him into a normal human being, falling in love with him in the process.

After many complications, goodness is rewarded and evil punished. The film has melodious music (T. G. Lingappa, one of the leading music composers of Kannada Cinema) and the lyrics were written by Ku. Ma. Balasubramaniam and Ku. Sa. Krishnamurthi. T. M. Soundararajan, P. Leela, V. N. Sundaram and P. Susheela sang the songs. ‘Amudhai pozhiyum nilavey,' rendered by Susheela, became a hit.

The film had excellent photography (G. K Ramu) and some sequences were shot in colour by noted lens man W. R Subba Rao.

Panthulu had S.R. Puttanna Kanagal as one of his three assistant directors who later rose to become one of the top filmmakers of India and indeed the best of Kannada Cinema. The film had a successful run and was also dubbed in other languages. Sivaji Ganesan in a ‘Tarzanish' role was impressive.

Remembered for the well-woven storyline, excellent locations, melodious music and fine performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Rajakumari and Rajamma.

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