Blast from the Past: Chitra (1946)

K.L.V. Vasantha, T. S. Balaiah, T. S. Durairaj, K. K. Perumal, M. E. Madhavan and V. S. Susheela

July 01, 2010 07:03 pm | Updated 07:03 pm IST

Chennai: 25/06/2010: Cinema Plus Tabloid: T.S. Baliah in "Chitra" film.

Chennai: 25/06/2010: Cinema Plus Tabloid: T.S. Baliah in "Chitra" film.

A Modern Theaters-T. R. Sundaram production, Chitra was directed by Raja Wahab Kashmiri and launched soon after the Second World War (1939-1945) ended. The storyline has a senior police commissioner's motherless daughter (Vasantha) falling in love with a young, duty-conscious police officer (Balaiah). A hypocrite who donated money to the War effort secretly sends radio messages to the enemy thereby committing treason. Wondering how top secrets reach the enemy, the senior police officer assigns the task of unravelling the truth to the hero. He, along with two helpers, who are duffers (Durairaj and Madhavan), sets out to find the culprit. The rich crook traps the three and locks them up in a lonely bungalow. Unable to find her lover, the heroine is shattered. She and her father make several efforts to locate them without success. Then one of the dumb clucks finds a tiepin sticking to some clothing. It is a gift from the heroine to her lover, and the hero throws it out through a keyhole! The heroine finds it; the police officer and his men storm the bungalow, release the hero and capture the villain! The lovers are united.

Interestingly, the thematic line of a person sending secret messages to the enemy through radio was used later by S. Balachandar in his 1954 award-winning movie Andha Naal (1954, the first Tamil movie without song or dance, impossible even to think of today!).

In spite of the racy on-screen narration by Wahab Kashmiri, the movie did not do well mainly because of the wrong casting of Balaiah, who was famous for his roles as villain, as the hero. Balaiah going about smartly dressed in suits (and holding a pipe!) did not go down well with the moviegoers of the day.

Wahab Kashmiri moved out of his native state to Calcutta, where he worked in Bengali and Hindi movies, acting in some of them, and assisting in the direction. Later, he migrated down South, where he worked in Madras, Coimbatore and Salem. In the Jupiter Pictures production Rani (an unsuccessful rehash of the Rita Hayworth classic Loves of Carmen ), he played the villain with much impact. He also acted in movies such as Kannadasan's Sivaganga Seemai in which he played a European officer with considerable effect. He also played a major role in Jayakanthan's Yaarukkaaga Azhuthaan and worked for T. R. Sundaram, who gave him this movie to direct. He lived in Madras for many years undergoing health problems and passed away virtually unnoticed.

Vasantha was as glamorous as ever, and one of her songs, ‘Ahahahahaha…aanandham', became popular. After leaving Gemini Studios, she became part of the Modern Theaters' family and appeared in many of T. R. Sundaram's movies. Her popularity to this day rests on movies such as Rambayin Kaathal, Bhooloka Rambai and Madanakamarajan . Interestingly Vasan announced Vasantha as Chandralekha in the initial promotional ads for his magnum opus, but for some reason she walked out and in came T. R. Rajakumari to create movie history.

Remembered for the racy on-screen narration and Vasantha's impressive performance.

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