M. G. Ramachandran, Serukalthur Sama, ‘Javert’ Seetharaman, M. N. Nambiar, Anjali Devi, Madhuri Devi, Pandari Bai and M. S. S. Bhagyam
Perhaps the most historically significant film of 1951 was K. Ramnoth’s Marmayogi, a Jupiter Pictures’ production made at Central Studios in Coimbatore. This film, a folkloric tale of kings, royal mistresses and rebellious princes was written by A. S. A. Sami who had planned it specially for M. G. Ramachandran.
MGR who made his debut as hero in Sami’s Rajakumari was aware that the success of that film was due to reasons other than himself. It had action, trick scenes, entertainment, sexy dances and the hero was only an auxiliary cause and nothing more. So MGR persuaded Sami to write a script built around him to boost his image as a social rebel, do-gooder, and a fearless fighter for the underprivileged. MGR was an ardent filmgoer and a fan of Hollywood action heroes such as Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. Fairbanks fascinated him more and he modelled himself after this famous American idol of the Silent Era. Sami worked on a script, a mix of literary and classical elements, for MGR. Inspiration was drawn from the novel “Vengeance” by Marie Correlli and the legend of Robin Hood! MGR was cast as the younger prince who rebels against a woman who usurps his father’s kingdom and lets loose a reign of terror. The king pushed off a boat by his mistress, and presumed to have drowned, escapes and lives in disguise as a mysterious saint (hence the title Marmayogi) and also parades as a ‘ghost’ at nights. The hero turns into a Robin Hood and leads the masses to victory. The name of the hero — Karikalan –— was deliberately chosen to impress and exploit the new feeling of ‘Tamilness’ among the people.
In films of this genre, names of heroes are mostly Sanskrit derivatives such as Veerasimhan and Pratapan. But Sami went for a typical Tamil name, after the name of the famousTamil king, Karikala Chozhan.
Initially the title of this film was Karikalan. Later it was changed so that people don’t mistake it for a historical film. Ramnoth revealed his talents with his technically slick direction. Sama as the king, Anjali Devi as the power-crazy mistress and Sahasranamam as the elder prince performed their roles well. But the movie belonged to MGR. Every word of his dialogue was planned and written to build a special image for him and the lines had multi-layered meanings. One of the lines summed up MGR’s ambitions, personal, and political … “Naan kuri vaithaal thavara maatten! Thavarumey aanaal kuri vaikka maatten!” This dialogue became popular and was greeted with gleeful screams in cinema houses. Strangely the Censors gave Marmayogi an ‘Adults Only’ certificate. Why? The film had a ‘ghost’ and hence the ‘A’ certificate!
Marmayogi’ received a warm welcome from the masses, especially the rapidly increasing rank and file of the MK party. With this film MGR’s image brightened and his career as a political figure was established. Soon he acquired a prefix to his name “Puratchi Nadigar”!
Remembered for The film that established MGR’s image of a rebel and do-gooder.