Several Indian films were made with the river as the backdrop. The films talked about the lives of the people settled on the banks of the river, their lifestyles, their loves. The Hindi films Nadhi Kinare (1939) and Nadiya Ke Paar (1949) are examples of such films.
The Malayalam film Nadhi, released in 1969, was based on a story written by the noted stage and film actor P. J. Antony. Periyar provided the backdrop for the film. The dialogues were by Thoppil Bhasi.
The plot veers around two traditional Christian families and their long-standing feud that is rekindled when they occupy two rice boats anchored on the banks of the Periyar. The entire film was shot on the banks of the river at Aluva.
Produced by Supriya Productions and directed by A. Vincent , this was the first colour film of the director who created some of the best black and white classics like Bhargavi Nilayam (1964), Murappennu (1965), Ashwamedham (1967) etc. Music by G. Devarajan was the highpoint of the film.
Vincent won the Kerala State Award for Best Director, while Baby Sumathi won the award for the Best Child Star. The film went on to become a box-office hit.
Thomman (Thikkurissi) and Varkey (P. J. Antony) are heads of the two families who are war with each other. Baby (Baby Sumathi), daughter of Varkey’s widowed daughter Leela (Ambika), shares a special friendships with Thomman’s son Johny (Prem Nazir). Varkey’s daughter Stella (Sharada) falls in love with Johny. Stella’s love affair is not approved by her family, especially by her brother Sunny (Madhu). Sunny often gets into an altercation with Johny. The family feud reaches a feverish pitch.
Varkey’s alcoholism turns serious. His family decide to return home. The night before this Baby accidentally falls in the river and is drowned. Thomman’s family go over to Varkey’s boat and offer their sympathies. Both the families make arrangements for the funeral.
Suddenly, Varkey turns hysterical, grabs a rifle and shoots at Johny. But Sunny comes in between and is shot. Before he dies Sunny gives his sister Stella’s hand in marriage to Johny.
The songs written by Vayalar Rama Varma and set to music by Devarajan turned out to be immortal hits.
Aayiram paadasarangal…, Kayamboo kannil vidarum… , Puzhakal malakal…(K. J. Yesudas), Nityavishuddhayaam kanyamariyame… (Yesudas & chorus), Panchatantram kathayile…, Thappukottampuram thakilukottampuram… (P. Susheela) have stood the test of time.
Will be remembered: As a good family drama, for winning State awards for A. Vincent and Baby Sumathi and for its Excellent music