Sabhash Meena 1958

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Applause from all quarters Sabhash Meena
Applause from all quarters Sabhash Meena

Sivaji Ganesan, B. Saroja Devi, J. P. Chandrababu, Malini, B. R. Panthulu, S.V. Ranga Rao and V. R. Rajagopal

Actor-turned-producer-director B. R. Panthulu, who had many hits in Kannada, Tamil and Hindi to his credit, made a surprise package Sabhash Meena, an excellent situation comedy about mistaken identities. Popular singer-comedian J. P. Chandrababu virtually carried the film on his slim but strong shoulders, playing a dual role. The film was written by the Maharashtrian lawyer-turned-filmmaker Dada Mirasi who adapted interesting story material from Marathi literature and theatre for the screen and the dialogue was written bywriter-director Pa. Neelakantan who later became very successful.

Dadha Mirasi was active during the 1960s in Tamil cinema. A talented screenwriter and filmmaker, he made movies such as Rattha Thilakam, Poovum Pottum, and Puthiya Paravai, a suspense thriller starring Sivaji Ganesan. He also acted in some films.

Sabhash Meena had Sivaji Ganesan in the lead, but the way the film developed his role became somewhat secondary with the thunder being stolen by Chandrababu — the latter played a double role. A pretty young woman from Andhra with a new screen name Malini was introduced as Sivaji Ganesan’s heartthrob who lives in a slum. Their scenes added to the sentimental value of the film.

Saroja Devi plays a rich man’s daughter. She falls in love with Chandrababu, Sivaji Ganesan’s idle friend. His look alike, a rickshawpuller in Madras, speaks typical Madras Tamizh. The look alike roles naturally gave a lot of scope for comedy and Chandrababu speaking the Madras lingo was excellent. (A good friend of this writer Babu told him later that Chandrababu hired a rickshaw in Mylapore for some time and practised ‘the art and craft of rickshaw-pulling’, and also spoke to many rickshawpullers of the area to learn their lingo and ‘idiomatic expressions’! ).

Sivaji Ganesan revealed his flair for comedy too.

S. V. Ranga Rao as the rich father and B. R. Panthulu as the poor, blind father lent excellent support. Also in the cast were veteran P. S. Gnanam and V. R. Rajagopal who later came to be known by his popular prefix ‘Kuladeivam.’

The film was a big success and did well even in non-Tamil areas such as Karnataka. Panthulu dubbed it into Telugu as Sabash Pilla which however did not do very well.

Malini made a mark with this film and played the lead in quite a few movies. Sadly she ventured into production, ill-advised by her so-called friends and associates, which led to her financial ruin.

Another plus point was the film’s melodious music (T. G. Lingappa ). Two songs became popular — ‘Chithiram pesuthadi’ (sung by T. M. Soundararajan), and ‘Kaanaa inbam’ (sung by T. A. Mothi) — and both were picturised on Sivaji Ganesan.

Sabhash Meena was later remade into Hindi as Dil Tera Deewana with Shammi Kapoor, (Sivaji Ganesan’s role), Mehmood (Chandrababu), Mala Sinha (Malini) and Subha Khote ( Saroja Devi). Directed by Panthulu, this version too was received well.

Remembered for the scintillating comedy with Chandrababu excelling and Sivaji Ganesan contributing to the fun. And also for the tuneful music.




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