Modern Theatres, Salem, pioneers of South Indian cinema produced several low budget as well as big budget films. ‘Kumudham' (1961) was a low budget Tamil social movie with S. S. Rajendran and Sowcar Janaki in lead roles. This low-budget movie went to become a huge box-office hit and also won the national award, in regional films category.
The success of ‘Kumudham' prompted the producers, Vadiva Pictures, to produce the Malayalam film ‘Suseela' (1963).
The film had characters and sequences adapted from ‘Kumudham'. The impressive script and dialogues written by Ponkunnam Varkey was, in fact, the highlight of the film. The story, with its unusual twists and turns, was jointly written by P. Ganesh and P.Subramaniam. The film was directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan.
The music composed by V. Dakshinamoorthy was excellent. Probably, this was the first Malayalam film to use ‘echo effect' for the songs. This technological innovation was first used in South Indian cinema for the first time, in the MGR-starrer ‘Sarvaadhikari' (1951).
Madhavi Amma (Pankajavally), a widow, has two children - Ravi (Sathyan) and daughter Suseela (Miss Kumari). Suseela is blind. Ravi is employed in a bank. Ravi's uncle Sankunni Menon (Thikkurissi) is rich and owns a factory in the town. Incidentally, Ravi's father was cheated by Sankunni Menon and had managed to get hold of his wealth. Ravi loses his job when the bank went on liquidation. He also loses the money he had deposited in the bank, which he had speciafically set aside for his sister's marriage.
Ravi gets a good job in Singapore with the help of his neighbour Unnithan. Unnithan also brings a proposal for Suseela. But the bridegroom backs out when he comes to know that Suseela is blind. Unnithan's friend Chandran (Prem Nazir) comes to their rescue. He agrees to marry Suseela. However, Chandran does this only because of Suseela's wealth. He runs away with her wealth and gets a manager's job in Sankunni Menon's factory. Menon's daughter Nalini (Ambika) falls in love with Chandran. But Menon dismisses Chandran from the factory when he comes to know about his daughter's affair with him. The lovers elope.
Madhavi Amma dies, while Suseela is in search of her husband. Ravi returns from Singapore. Menon requests Ravi to take charge of the factory. Ravi does so reluctantly. Nalini gives birth to a child and dies soon after. Chandran puts the child in an orphanage along with a letter addressed to Nalini's father. Ravi takes the child home.
In the meanwhile, Ravi meets his friend Chandran quite accidently and without knowing that it was Suseela's husband brings him home. Suseela recognises Chandran by his voice but keeps silent. She undergoes an eye surgery and regains her eyesight. Chandran reveals his identify to Suseela. Ravi who overhears their talk gets furious and attacks Chandran. Suseela tries to save her husband from her brother and in the melee falls down from the stairs. Suseela loses her vision again. Chandran repents for his cruelty. Suseela forgives him. They live happily along with Nalini's child. Ravi marries Hema (Sheela), daughter of Unnithan.
Despite its unusual twists and turns the film turned out to be a big success. The expert handling of the story by Sethumadhavan and brilliant acting by Miss Kumari were other highpoints.
The songs written by P. Bhaskaran and Abhaya Dev were set to tune by Dakshinamoorthy. The romantic number ‘Kandu njan nin mukham…' (S.Janaki) was recorded using the ‘echo effect.' The lullaby written by Abhaya Dev, ‘Thaalolam Thankam…' was included in the film as separate renderings by M. L. Vasantha Kumari and P. Susheela. Both the versions became hits. The other hits include, ‘Njan oru katha parayam…' (P. Leela, Kamukara Purushotaman), ‘Yathrakara vazhiyathrakara…' ( K. P.Udayabhanu), ‘Kandotte onnu kandotte…'(Susheela), and ‘Kulir kaate nee…' (Leela).
Will be remembered:For the music and for introducing ‘echo effect' for songs.
Keywords: Malayalam cinema