M. G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, B. S. Saroja, Kushalakumari, K. Sarangapani, E. R. Sahadevan, T. P. Muthulakshmi, ‘Friend’ Ramaswami, G. Sakunthala and K. S. Angamuthu
Goondukili was the only film in Tamil cinema featuring both the top heroes, MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, which expectedly made history at many levels, some of it not so complimentary. Bringing the two stars together was indeed an achievement for Ramanna (T. R. Rajakumari’s brother, sound recordist-turned-producer-director). Written by Vindhan, a socially and politically conscious writer of his day, the film is a love triangle in which a man (Sivaji Ganesan) loses his mental balance as he cannot marry the girl of his dreams (Saroja). She becomes the wife of his best friend (MGR), who has no clue about his earlier disappointment in love. He provides solace to his disturbed friend in his home where the latter is shocked to see his heartthrob. It was a villainous role for Sivaji Ganesan who did similar anti-hero characters during the early 1950s in films such as Andha Naal, Thuli Visham, Thirumbi Paar and now Goondukili.
Though the film was well made, the casting of the two top heroes did not go down well with their fans who caused problems for the makers. The film was long under production due to differences of opinion between the actors and, as a result, certain scenes written by Vindhan could not be shot. When the film was released, it ran into more problems from the respective fan clubs of the heroes. It had to be withdrawn from circulation in many places. As a result, Ramanna and the production company, RR Pictures, lost heavily. Learning a bitter lesson from the sad experience, he launched a film based on folklore, Gulebakavali, which turned out to be a box office hit and compensated him for his earlier losses. (Ramanna told this writer later that his lack of experience — he was quite young at that time — in film direction and handling strong personalities such as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan were the main reasons for the debacle even though the film had an interesting storyline, good dialogue and music).
The film had excellent photography (M. A. Rehman assisted by Rajabathar, Ramanna’s brother). The music was by K. V. Mahadevan. Not many are aware that the tune composed for this film by Mahadevan, ‘Mayakkum maalai pozhudhu...’, could not be used for many reasons and was subsequently used by Ramanna in Gulebakavali for which the music composers were Viswanathan-Ramamurthy. This song is still popular. (The lyrics were by Thanjai Ramaiah Das, Ka. Mu. Sherif, Maruthakasi and Vindhan.) ‘Konjum kiliyaana pennai….sariyaa thappaa?’, written by Vindhan and rendered by T. M. Soundararajan, became a big hit. B. S. Saroja (Mrs. Ramanna in private life) as the wife caught in a vortex of emotions enacted the role admirably.
Remembered for: Being the only film featuring Tamil cinema icons M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan, a casting that was never repeated!