Moondru Pillaigal 1952

Moondru Pillaigal  

One of the much expected movies of 1952 was Moondru Pillaigal, a Gemini Studios offering produced by S. S. Vasan and directed by the multilingual film personality and idol of Kannada theatre of the early decades, Rattihalli Nagendra Rao.

The backstory of this movie is interesting and worth narrating. Nagendra Rao was keen on breaking into Tamil Cinema after his successful innings in Kannada as producer-director. His attention was drawn to a popular Hollywood movie of the day, The Way of All Flesh. (Contrary to popular belief, the movie had nothing to do with the celebrated English novel of Samuel Butler of the same title.)

The Hollywood film did well in India, and the family-oriented storyline not surprisingly attracted the attention of Indian producers. The first of such adaptations was in Hindi, (made at Lahore) titled Khazanchi in 1941. This film had the pretty star Ramola, and Manorama in lead roles and S. D. Narang, later producer-director, as hero. The film created history thanks to its scintillating music by Ghulam Mohammed. Almost every song sung mostly off screen by the later day melody queen of Hindi Cinema, Noorjehan, became a hit. Songs such as ‘Deewali phir aa gayi', ‘Sawan ki nazaare' and, the most popular of them all, ‘Laut gayee' were on everyone's lips and still enchant old-timers. Many are not aware that Khazanchi ran for 25 weeks in Madras city in 1941 at Sagar Cinema, later Odeon. An incredible record even by today's standards for a Hindi movie in the city. This film also made ‘salwar kameez' worn in the movie by the lead actresses popular.

The thumping success of Khazanchi in south India encouraged Nagendra Rao to produce it off his own bat in Kannada and Tamil. He took the Tamil project to Vasan. At first, Vasan was rather amused because with so many irons in the fire he had no desire to finance other producers.

During the late 1940s, Vasan was producing the Alexandre Dumas' novel-Hollywood movie, The Corsican Brothers to be adapted in Tamil and other languages. Titled Apoorva Sahotharargal (also known as ‘Strange Brothers'), the role of the villain could not be cast, for no one matched up to the expectation of Vasan and the director T. G. Raghavachari (Acharya). Many top artistes of the day were considered, but no one fitted the bill. The successful lawyer-turned-filmmaker Raghavachari, a shrewd observer had noticed Nagendra Rao come into Gemini Studios to meet Vasan for his project. TGR had known Nagendra Rao's involvement in theatre and it struck him that he could play the villain. After some hard thinking, Vasan gave his nod and Nagendra Rao walked into the movie ( Apoorva Sahotharargal) as villain. In spite of his not-so-perfect Tamil accent, he stole the movie, not only in Tamil but also in the Telugu and Hindi versions.

During the making of Apoorva Sahotharargal (1949), Nagendra Rao became quite close to Vasan who took up RNR's version of the Hollywood film The Way of All Flesh for production under the title Moondru Pillaigal in Tamil and Mugguru Kodukulu in Telugu. Nagendra Rao with P. Kannamba as the traditional wife played the protagonist and the head of the family of three sons. The sons were played by M. K. Radha, Gemini Ganesh, not yet famous, and Sriram, while the three wives of the sons were Suryaprabha, Kumari Vanaja and a pretty newcomer, Saraswathi. Also in the cast were M. S. Sundari Bai and the other Gemini regular L. Narayana Rao.

Brilliant comedian and singer J. P. Chandrababu virtually forced his way into doing a single sequence in this film by attempting to commit suicide in front of Gemini Studios! He was brilliant in this sequence and created such an impact that Vasan predicted a great future for him.

However, Moondru Pillaigal fared badly at the box office much to the disappointment of Nagendra Rao, Vasan and many others.

Remembered for: the fine performances of Nagendra Rao, Kannamba, and a stunning single sequence by the soon-to-be-star Chandrababu.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 3:08:38 AM |

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