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ANIYATHI: 1955

B. VIJAYAKUMAR
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Prem Nazir, T. K. Balachandran, T. N. Gopinathan Nair, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, S. P. Pillai, T. S. Muthiah. Miss Kumari, Kumari Thankam, etc.

Social films focusing on brotherhood and the sacrifices of brothers and sisters has been a favourite subject of Indian cinema. Mehboob Khan’s Bahen (1941), New Theatres’ My Sister (1944) are examples of such movies. This trend emerged in the 1950s with Hindi films like Bhai Behan (1950), Bhai ka Pyar (1951) etc. In the South Sivaji Ganesan’s debut movie Parasakthi (1952) and the MGR-starrer En Thankai (1952) also followed this theme. En Thankai was remade in Hindi as Chhoti Behan (1959), in Telugu as Na Chellalu (1953) and in Oriya as Punarmilan (1977). And all these films were hits.

The unusual success of such films prompted P. Subramaniam to produce the Malayalam film Aniyathi that told the story of a sister and her sacrifices. Released in 1955, on Christmas Eve, the film went to become a huge hit. Produced under the banner of Neela Productions and directed by M. Krishnan Nair, the film was shot at Merryland Studios. The script and dialogues were by T. N. Gopinathan Nair.

Shekhara Pillai (T. N. Gopinathan Nair), once a rich landlord, now depends heavily on his son Appu (Prem Nazir), who is employed in Bangalore, to take care of the family. Appu’s sister Ammini (Miss Kumari) is a college student and his father is plagued by ill health. Appu loses his eyesight and returns home. Ammini hides this fact from Pillai.

On his journey back home Appu meets Pachu Kurup (Kottarakara) who worked in Burma but had now returned home. His brother Bhargavan (Muthiah) runs a restaurant, which is fully financed by his brother Kurup. Soon, Kurup takes possession of the restaurant throwing Bhargavan and his wife out.

Kurup’s evil eye falls on Ammini. When Shekhara Pillai comes to know that his son Appu is blind, he dies heart-broken. Pillai’s house is confiscated. Appu and Ammini move to a small hut. Ammini is forced to sell flowers and garlands for a living. Appu accompanies her. One day Babu (T. K. Balachandran), a police constable, saves Appu from being run over. He falls in love with Ammini.

Kurup befriends Appu and supports him financially. He then spreads scandals about Babu and Ammini and Appu believes them. Babu proposes marriage to Ammini. She tells him that he will have to wait till her brother regains his eyesight. Babu suspects Ammini when he comes to know about Kurup’s frequent visits to her house. One night Kurup attempts to molest Ammini. Babu reaches in time to save her. He comes to know of Kurup’s evil designs and misunderstandings are cleared. Appu regains his eyesight; Babu weds Ammini. There is sub-plot to this film involving Jayanthi (Kumari Thankam), Ammini’s college mate, and SP (S. P. Pillai). Jayanthi is mentally challenged. Doctors suggest that a marriage will help her get over this. She gets married to SP. This leads to some hilarious comic scenes.

Prem Nazir and Miss Kumari impressed. This was one of those rare occasions where Prem Nazir was not paired with a heroine.

The songs written by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair were set to tune by Brother Lakshmanan. Poomara kombathu … (P. Leela), Kochu kuttathi …(Santha P. Nair), Bahu bahu sukhamam … (Cochin Abdul Khader) became quite popular. Ananda nandakumara … (Kamukara Purushotaman- Leela) based on Yamuna Kalyani raga and Paahi sakala janani … (Leela-Rajalakshmi) based on Gauda Malhar are perhaps the earliest semi-classical film songs in Malayalam. Paadedi paadedi penne … (Santha P. Nair) is considered as the first parody in Malayalam cinema. It was a parody of some of the Hindi film hits of the time.

Will be remembered : As a successful social film; for its music, especially the classical-based songs and for the first ever parody song in Malayalam cinema.

B. VIJAYAKUMAR

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