Prem Nazir, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, T. S. Muthiah, Pappukkuty Bhagavathar, S. P. Pillai, Adoor Bhasi, Sheela, Aranmula Ponnamma, Junior Padmini etc
The Tamil film Muthalali (1957), produced by M. A. Venu and directed by ‘Muktha’ Sreenivasan made on a small budget, was a huge hit. The film won the National Award for the best Feature Film in the regional language category. It was the screen version of a popular play by the same name written by A. K. Venkataramanujam.
The unprecedented success of the film was attributed to its good script combined with strong mass elements like songs and performances.
The producers remade the film in Malayalam with the same title. It was released on April 30, 1965. Directed by M. A. V. Rajendran, the film was shot at Rathna Studios, Salem.
The cinematography by K. Ramachandran and editing by E. Arunachalam was commendable.
Dance sequences choreographed by ‘Chinni’ Sampath were an attraction of the film. Music director K. V. Mahadevan who composed the music for the original recommended his assistant T. K. Pukazhenthi’s name to compose for the remake. Playback singer B. Vasantha made her debut in Malayalam films through this film.
Venu (Prem Nazir) who owns a glass factory in Ernakulam goes to America for higher studies. During Venu’s absence his mother, Saraswathi Amma (Aranmula Ponnamma), manages the factory with the help of the manager Vikraman Nair (Muthiah). Gradually Vikraman brings everything under his control and swindles the company taking advantage of Saraswathi Amma’s trust in him.
After a few years Venu returns after his studies. He lands in Bombay en route to Ernakulam where he meets Kesavan (Pappukutty Bhagavathar), a hotel employee.
Through Kesavan he comprehends the hardships faced by labourers and the need to understand the life is for a worker before becoming the owner of a factory. Venu sends telegram to his mother informing her that he has to go on a business tour and will reach home a month later.
Venu reaches Ernakulam, in disguise as Velu, and gets himself a job in his own factory with the help of Devaki (Sheela), a worker in the factory. Venu befriends her father, Raman Nair (Thikkurissi), and stays in their home.
Venu gets a clear picture of what Vikraman Nair is upto and how he manipulates the factory’s assets. Vikraman, in the meanwhile, is in love with Malathi (Junior Padmini) who Venu was supposed to marry. Venu falls in love with Devaki.
Within few days Venu gets a clear picture of the crisis the factory is passing through. Vikraman’s wicked eye falls on Devaki.
Venu decides it is time to return as himself. He leaves after writing a letter to Devaki saying that he will come back soon. Devaki becomes suspicious of Venu’s motives. Devaki is dismissed from her job in the factory.
She leaves the city in search of Venu and reaches Thiruvananthapuram. There she meets her brother Kesavan, the hotel worker who Venu met in Bombay.
Venu comes back and takes charge of the factory. He is disappointed when he comes to know that Devaki has been dismissed and that she has left the home.
He meets the workers in his factory, tells them that he is aware of what the manager has been upto and assures them that there will be a change in how the factory is run.
Unable to come to terms with being shown his place in the factory, Vikraman spreads a rumour that Venu is an impostor Velu. And now for the climax.
Venu, in the meanwhile, sets out in search of Devaki and brings her back. He is arrested on charges of impersonation on a complaint by Vikraman. All misunderstandings are cleared. Venu reveals the purpose behind coming back under disguise and exposes Vikraman Nair.
The police arrests Vikraman for swindling the factory. Venu marries Devaki. The workers of the factory are now under a ‘Muthalali’ (owner), who understands the hardships they face and acknowledges their rights. A happy ending to the film.
The film laid stress on the values a business owner should have. But when it came to illustrating the ideals it fell short, for instance an unbelievable situation like the hero’s mother being unable to recognise her son. Prem Nazir and Sheela impressed the audience as the romantic pair.
Five songs written by P. Bhaskaran and composed by T. K. Pukazhenthi became hits. Instant hits were
Mullappoo thailamittu…. (K. J. Yesudas, S. Janaki), and Panineer thoovunna poonilaave…. (Yesudas).
Other hits include Ethu poovu choodanam…” (Janaki), Punnaara muthalali… ( Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi and B. Vasantha) and Kaniyaanum vannilla… (Janaki).
Will be remembered: As debut Malayalam film of composer T. K. Pukazhenthi and singer B. Vasantha.
For its music, especially for the romantic duet Mullappoo thailamittu…