Jai Shankar, Jamuna, Kutti Padmini, G. Varalaskhmi, Nagesh, ‘Major' Sundararajan, ‘Malaysia' (Magic) Radhika
One of the many successful live-action movies of Walt Disney is The Parent Trap (1961), featuring famed Hollywood star Maureen O'Hara and noted British actor Hayley Mills (as the twins; she was then 15). The movie, which was all about family sentiment and twin girls bringing together their separated parents, had a long and successful run in India.
Noted actor and screenwriter ‘Javert' N. Seetharaman adapted the Hollywood movie in Tamil, making changes in the screenplay to suit the local milieu. It was produced by AV. Meiyappan in more than one Indian language.
Titled Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum (1965), it was directed by the successful director-duo Krishnan-Panju and had the Bond type hero Jai Shankar and the multilingual star Jamuna as the separated parents. Talented Kutti Padmini played the twins with the right mix of innocence and mischief. The film was a box-office success and enjoyed a 100-day run, the benchmark of success in South Indian Cinema, in many places. If a film scores a 25-week run, it is rated as a mega hit!
One of the major factors contributing to the success of the movie was its melodious music composed by M. S. Viawanathan. Many of the songs became hits and are still remembered today. The hits include ‘Kozhi oru koottiley' (lyrics: Kannadasan; voice: M. S. Rajeswari), ‘Pazhamudhir solaiyiley' (Kannadasan, P. Susheela), ‘Anbulla mannavaney' (Vali, Susheela, T. M. Soundararajan), ‘Kuzhandaiyum deivamum' (Kannadasan, Susheela), ‘Naan nandri solven' (Vali, Susheela) and ‘Enna vegam sollu bhamaaa (Vali, Soundararajan, A. L. Raghavan and chorus).
The film was remade in Telugu as Letha Manasulu (1966) with Jamuna, Haranath and Kutti Padmini in lead roles. Directed by the same duo, it, however, did not enjoy the same success as the Tamil original.
But Meiyappan hit the bull's eye with the Hindi version, Do Kaliyan (1967). Directed by Krishnan-Panju, it featured noted stars Mala Sinha and Biswajeet as the couple. The role of the twins was enacted by Baby Sonia who made a splash. Later as a young woman and known as Neetu Singh, she was a successful Hindi film star. Soon she married the top star of that day, Rishi Kapoor, and retired from films. Do Kaliyan was a silver jubilee hit and further brightened the radiant image of Meiyappan and AVM Studios.
Krishnan-Panju had many hits in many languages, including Hindi, to their credit. Both of them began in a modest manner in Coimbatore, with Krishnan working as a laboratorian and Panju (Panchapakesan) as an assistant director and script assistant. Panju had also worked with Ellis R. Dungan as one of his assistants. He was also a talented film editor and edited all his films and signed his name as ‘Panjabi!'
Remembered for the interesting storyline, Kutti Padmini's performance and melodious songs.