Maragatham (1959)

Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, S. Balachandar, Sandhya, T.S. Balaiah, T. S. Durairaj, J. P. Chandra Babu, O.A.K. Thevar, P. S. Gnanam, T. P. Muthulakshmi, Lakshmirajam, Lakshmiprabha, M. R. Santhanam, ‘Ennathey' Kannaiah and Lakshmirajam-‘Baby' Sacchu (dances)

Published - April 29, 2010 06:58 pm IST



Based on an interesting crime thriller by T.S.D. Sami, the film has a sub-title ‘Karunkuyil Kunrathu Kolai' within brackets.

Totally fiction, the title was obviously inspired by the sensational ‘Karunkuzhi Parcel Murder Case', though the content was completely different.

The film was well-directed by the Coimbatore movie mogul, S.M. Sriramulu Naidu who made many memorable movies such as Jagathalaprathapan, Pavalakodi, Kannika and Malaikallan . His studio in Coimbatore, Pakshiraja, was a hive of activity during the 1940s-1950s. The screenplay was by Naidu himself and the dialogue was by Murasoli Maran.

Maragatham narrated the happenings of a rich zamindari family in which the maharaja is murdered and the crime foisted on his innocent brother (Balachandar) and his lovely wife (Sandhya, Jayalalitha's mother). The wife waits for her husband who had escaped from prison. She pines for her daughter (Padmini) who is believed dead. Not knowing Padmini is her daughter, Sandhya saves her life in a boat accident and the girl comes to live with her. Noted comedian of Tamil cinema of yesteryear T. S. Durairaj plays the interesting role of the villain planning the murder, but the real killer is Balaiah. The prince (Ganesan) falls in love with his sister's daughter without knowing who she is!). Ultimately as it always happens in movies, the truth is revealed, the killers are exposed, the parted couples and the young lovers are united, and all's well that ends well.

Balachandar excels with an underplayed performance, while Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini make a delightful pair. Ganesan is a treat to watch in the guise of a servant who tries to find out the truth behind the murder. Chandra Babu as the lovelorn butler is his usual comic self. Sandhya is lovely and plays her role well.

The film had excellent sets (A. K. Sekhar) and the outdoor locations were picturesque. The cinematography by Sailen Bose was fine. S. M. Subbaiah Naidu's music was catchy, with one song, (a duet between Chandra Babu and Jamuna Rani) ‘Kunguma poovey konjum puraavey', becoming a hit — the song is popular even after half a century. Maragatham sustains interest even after five decades, and is worth watching even today.

Remembered for: excellent on-screen narration and direction by Naidu, impressive performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, Balachandar and Durairaj, and tuneful music.

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