Pattanathil Bhootham 1964

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Fantastic Pattanathil Bhootham
Fantastic Pattanathil Bhootham

Jaishankar, K. Balaji, K. R. Vijaya, C. K. Nagesh, R. S. Manohar, V. K. Ramasami, V. S. Raghavan, ‘Javert’ Seetharaman, S. D. Subbulakshmi, Lakshmiprabha and Vijayalalitha

The Brass Bottle (1963) was a rehash of the Arabian Nights genie-in-a-bottle fantasy, based on a novel by well-known writer F. Ansley. Featuring comedy star Tony Randall (Pillow Talk, Send Me No Flowers and the hit TV serial, “The Odd Couple”), Burl Ives (Cat On a Hot Tin Roof) as the genie, and attractive Barbara Eden, it was about a young architect receiving an antique brass bottle as a gift from his fianceé’s father who is in a great hurry to get rid of it because it was bringing him ill luck. The hero and his friend open the bottle and the genie comes out and offers to help his benefactor but things seem to go wrong at every turn until the end when it all works out to the benefit of the young couple.

The Brass Bottle fared well in India, including Madras. ‘Javert’ Seetharaman, a lawyer-turned-film person, was an expert in adapting foreign novels and movies to the Tamil screen. Not surprisingly, he rewrote The Brass Bottle in Tamil as Pattanathil Bhootham and played the role of the ‘bhootham’ himself!

This movie was rehashed almost in toto by M. V. Raman, a successful editor-filmmaker (Konjum Salangai) for Venus Pictures with Jaishankar and K. R. Vijaya in the lead. Nagesh is his bosom friend who has a girlfriend (Ramaprabha). Into this story is woven the familiar theme of the partner (V. S. Raghavan) of the girl’s father (Ramasami) turning out to be a smuggler with an equally villainous son in sheep’s clothing (Balaji).

The bhootham (Javert) is given the same get up as in the Hollywood movie and even the bottle (an ornate brass jar) is similar. Vijaya looks slim and attractive and, in a sensational sequence, appears in a swimsuit, but her acting is full of rolling of the eyes and such gestures — known as “emoting in every frame!”, in Hollywood — which is jarring and even amusing.

In sharp contrast, Jaishankar’s performance is underplayed, befitting the role in spite of his Tamil theatrical background. Nagesh provides his usual brand of comedy and his tap dancing is excellent, reminding one of the Golden Age Hollywood musicals and Fred Astaire!

R. S. Manohar with shaven head as the villain’s henchman was his usual self, and interesting fight sequences with him and Jaishankar were well shot and edited.

Pattanathil Bhootham had good music (R. Govardhan, lyrics Kannadasan) and songs such as ‘Andha Sivakaami maganidam’ (voice T. M. Soundararajan-P. Susheela), ‘Kannaal kandathellam…’ (TMS-Susheela) and ‘Ulagathil…’ (A. L. Raghavan, picturised on Nagesh) became popular.

The movie had interesting trick photography like cars flying in the sky chasing a helicopter (special effects-camera, Ravikanth Nagaich, well known for his trick photography).

The film was interestingly narrated by M. V. Raman and the chase sequences in the second half were well-executed and crisply edited by the director who began his career as an editor at AVM.

Remembered for: Interesting onscreen narration, good performances by Jaishankar and Nagesh, Vijaya in a swimsuit, and popular songs.




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