Blast from the past: Kannika 1947

T. E. Varadan, M. S. Sarojini, D. Balasubramaniam, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, Kali N. Ratnam, Harini, Hemamalini and Lalitha-Padmini (dance)

March 12, 2011 05:39 pm | Updated 05:39 pm IST

A working still of the film Kannika

A working still of the film Kannika

S. M. Sriramulu Naidu made Kannika , his first movie, at his new studio, Pakshiraja, in Coimbatore.

Kannika is a folk tale about a despotic demon (D. Balasubramaniam), whose life is inside a pigeon kept in a faraway place! His daughter (M. S. Sarojini) tries to reform him in vain. A divinely blessed young man (T. E. Varadan) with magical powers falls in love with her and after many interesting adventures to obtain the bird, he destroys the demon and marries the princess. He also saves his foster mother (M. R. Santhanalakshmi).

T. E. Varadan, a handsome Science graduate, got to play the hero, thanks to Naidu. Later, he played the hero in Naidu's multi-starrer, Pavalakodi, in which the heroine was the ‘Dream Girl of South Indian Cinema', T. R. Rajakumari. He appeared in a few movies such as Ulagam which were not successful. After a few films, he bade goodbye to movies, and entered business, where he did much better! (Well-known cricketer T. E. Srinivasan was his son).

Kannika was written by the star screenwriter of Tamil Cinema, Ilangovan, and its lyrics and music were contributed by the iconic composer, Papanasam Sivan. The music was quite impressive and a duet, ‘yaro vanthen iru kann pothinaar... anbudan kai patrinaar…,' by Sarojini and S. S. Mani lending his voice to Varadan was a major hit.

Mani was Papanasam Sivan's nephew and assisted him in his films. He also sang songs that were played against the credit titles. Sadly, Mani is hardly remembered today.

There was also a dance-drama sequence, “Siva-Mohini”, by Lalitha-Padmini choreographed by Vazhuvoor B. Ramaiah Pillai. N. S. Krishnan-T. A. Mathuram provided comedy in their characteristic style.

Kannika had impressive cinematography with trick scenes of the hero flying on ‘gandaberunda', a gigantic bird, a novelty in those days. Such sequences were shot by the talented but sadly underrated cinematographer, V. Krishnan, who also directed some movies. During that period, there were only two sophisticated BNC movie cameras imported from the U.S. at an exorbitant cost of Rs. 1,00,000 during the 1940s. Naidu had one, while the other was owned by noted Hindi filmmaker A. R. Kardar. However, Kannika fared badly at the box office.

Remembered for the melodious music, impressive cinematography and the interesting onscreen narration.

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