P. U. Chinnappa, P. Kannamba, M. N. Nambiar, R. Balasubramaniam, M. R. Swaminathan, Yogam Mangalam, N. S. Krishnan, T.A. Mathuram and V. Gopalakrishnan (debut)
The story of King Harishchandra, the personification of truth, has been filmed in several languages with more than one title - Raja Harishchandra, Ayodhya Che Raja, Harishchandra, Satya Harishchandra and Harishchandra Taramathi. It was filmed twice in Tamil in the 1940s; one of them created history as the first film dubbed into Tamil from Kannada by AV. Meiyappan and R. Nagendra Rao in 1943. The original Tamil version was also made in the same year, but released early in 1944. It had the popular pair of that era P. U. Chinnappa-P. Kannamba who had acted together in many movies such as Kannagi, Mahamaya and Tulasi Jalandhar. This version was produced by the multitalented star Pasupuleti Kannamba under her production banner Sri Rajarajeswari Films and directed by her husband Kadaru B. Nagabhushanam. The film, a reasonable success, was written by the sadly forgotten stage and screen personality of the early decades of Tamil cinema, T. C. Vadivelu Naicker, who had also directed a few Tamil films. Besides Chinnappa and Kannamba, the film has an immpressive cast which includes Nambiar and R. Balasubramaniam.
Kannamba began her creative career in Telugu theatre during the early 1930s and left a lasting impact as Chandramathi in the successful play Harishchandra. It was filmed in Telugu in 1935 and its Tamil version appeared in 1944. Famous for her superb dialogue delivery and emotiondrenched style of acting, her most memorable role was in the 1942 Tamil classic Kannagi in which she played the title role. During that period she did not know Tamil. Her dialogue was transcribed in Telugu and she spoke it phonetically, coming up with one of the finest performances ever. Ironically today in Tamil cinema, most actresses do not speak Tamil and their voices are dubbed.
The music by S. V.Venkataraman was a plus point. The song 'Kasinadha Gangadhara karunai seidhiduvai.' rendered by Chinnappa and Kannamba became popular. The cinematography by Kamal Ghosh added to the visual appeal.
One of the highlights was the comedy track of N. S. Krishnan- T. A.Mathuram. They also sang a lengthy duet, 'Aanpillaikkeedo adi asadey.'. This song is a challenge thrown at Mathuram by NSK that the male is superior to the female, a charge she refutes. The lyrics (C. A. Lakshmana Das) were brilliant and finally NSK is forced to give up his stand and sings "Aanum pennum onnu, adhai ariyadhavanmoolai adhu kalimannu." This song became a hit and sold well as 78 rpmdisc, then popularly known as 'plates'.
A little known fact is it was in this film that noted stage, screen and television actor V. Gopalakrishnan (Gopi) made his debut as a playmate of Lohidasan, Harishchandra's son.
Remembered for: the lead pair, NSK's comedy and tuneful music. RANDOR GUY