Cinema

Deiva Neethi 1947

mythological Deiva Neethi  

A chapter of Saivaite mythology ‘Thiruvilayadal Puranam', this film narrated on screen the story of a Pandya king (Chellappa), a staunch devotee of Lord Somasundareswarar. A woman (Chellam) comes to his court and accuses a hunter (Ramasami) of being responsible for the murder of her only young daughter while they were sleeping in a temple. Finding the hunter guilty, the king sentences him to death. Now, the hunter's wife (Kannamba) comes to the king pleading for justice for her husband, but the king turns a deaf ear to her request. Strangely, while the king is fast asleep that night, a divine voice tells him that he has committed grave injustice and that the hunter is not guilty!

Ultimately, truth comes to light and it turns out that the hunter is none other than Lord Muruga (Shiva's son) and his wife is Valli! Happiness is restored thanks to divine blessings and the dead daughter comes back to life! Written by the first star Tamil screenwriter of the day, Ilangovan, the film had lyrics by Papanasam Sivan and the music was composed by M. S. Gnanamani. Many Carnatic ragas such as Mohanam, Simhendramadhyamam and Mayamalavagowla were used. The songs were well rendered by Ramasami, Chellappa and Kannamba. There was also a comedy number by Durairaj and Nagalakshmi.

The film was jointly directed by veteran M. L. Tandon and ace cinematographer Jiten Banerjee, assisted by S. G. Iyer and K. Vembu. (Later Vembu turned director and went on to make films such as Madanamala (1947) and a few in Malayalam.)

(The American Tamil filmmaker Ellis R. Dungan told this writer during the early 1990s when he came to Madras, after a lapse of nearly 40-plus years, that Iyer had worked with him as his script assistant translating the Tamil dialogue into English on all his projects. Today, very few remember Iyer.)The dances were choreographed by Nataraj (of Nataraj-Sakunthala fame) and the film was shot at Newtone Studio where Jiten Banerjee was one of the promoter-directors. Kannamba, a bi-lingual star, played the hunter's wife brilliantly. Her dialogue delivery, especially in the scene where she fights for justice for her husband, was superb, reminding one of her legendary performance in Kannagi (1942) — incidentally, it was Ilangovan who penned the dialogue for Kannagi too. Ramasami, who took his bow in cinema in the mid-1940s following his successful stint on stage, played the hunter in his own inimitable way.

This film was released in May 1947, just a few months before the country attained Independence. Though it was a mythological, in keeping with the spirit of the time, it had a song highlighting Gandhiji's favourite ‘charkha' (spinning wheel).

Remembered for the dialogue delivery of Kannamba and Ramasami, and tuneful music in Carnatic ragas.




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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 6:06:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Deiva-Neethi-1947/article15589269.ece

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