Iravum Pagalum 1965

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Taut thriller: Iravum Pagalum
Taut thriller: Iravum Pagalum

Jaishankar (debut), TKS Vasantha, Asokan, Kanthimathi and Pandari Bai

Joseph Thaliath Junior, son of a high ranking Travancore judicial officer, relocated to Madras to make movies. He worked as assistant director under veterans such as S. Soundararajan (Tamil Nadu Talkies) before he joined hands with noted art director, filmmaker and studio owner F. Nagoor to promote a production company called Citadel Films.

But why Citadel? His favourite novel was A. J. Cronin’s classic “The Citadel” which he wanted to film in Tamil. A story about the medical profession in London, Nagoor told his young friend that such subjects in those days were risky, especially for a maiden attempt, and suggested a crime thriller which became Iravum Pagalum.

Thaliath named his company after the book and later when he built his studio in Kilpauk he called it Citadel Studios. The studio has vanished but today only the cement name board ‘CITADEL’ remains.

Iravum Pagalum being a low budget movie, he decided to cast new faces. That’s when he spotted a handsome, slim young man from theatre, Subramaniam Shankar. He cast him as hero giving him a new name, Jaishankar!

One of the most successful stars of the 1960s, Jaishankar played several action-oriented roles. It is indeed regrettable that despite his many achievements and rare qualities, he was sidelined not only by the Tamil movie world but also by the media. An excellent human being, he did many good deeds without seeking publicity.

Bitten by the drama bug, he joined Cho’s Viveka Fine Arts, which consisted mostly of Mylaporeans where he did insignificant roles. Obviously not happy, he moved out, and the break came with Koothabiran’s Kalki Fine Arts where he made a mark playing a lead role in Kalki’s “Amara Thaara”.

Expectedly he tried to enter the film industry. He was rejected by many producers who thought his eyes were too small for him to play hero in films. Somewhat disappointed, he took up a job with the Simpson Company and was posted in Delhi where he worked for some time. But his fascination for films didn’t die and he came back to Madras where he again acted on stage. An excellent performance in a historical play caught the attention of the adventurous film producer from Trivandrum, Joseph Thaliath Junior, who gave him the break in Iravum Pagalum.

As for the story… a well-to-do college student (Jaishankar) who lives with his widowed mother (Pandari Bai) leads a happy-go-lucky life. One night the family is robbed of all its wealth by a gang and his mother prevents him from reporting it to the police. Realising that there is some mystery behind it, he sets out to unravel it. In disguise he infiltrates into a gang of smugglers and robbers. Meanwhile, he falls in love with his college mate (a pretty, new face TKS Vasantha). All is well that ends well with the mystery unravelled and the lovers uniting…

The tautly told thriller turned out to be a surprise package and scored well at the box office. A slim, active movie star named Jaishankar was born and he never looked back… It also had melodious music (T. R. Papa) with some songs ‘Iravu varum…’ and ‘Ullathin kadhuvugal….’ becoming hits.

Remembered for Jaishankar’s debut, taut onscreen narration and melodious music.




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