Cinema

Sethu Bandhanam 1937

epic success Sethu Bandhanam

epic success Sethu Bandhanam  

P. B. Rangachari, Nott Annaji Rao, M. D. Parthasarathy, M. S. Mohanambal, M. A. Sandow, Kulathu Mani, M.R. Subramaniam, T. K. Kannammal, K. S. Angamuthu and Bhagirathi

R. Padmanabhan made quite a few memorable movies in Tamil and Telugu and was active till the late 1950s. Not many are aware he was the person who brought the iconic figure of Indian Cinema, Raja Sandow, from Bombay to make films at Madras. Padmanabhan was also responsible for bringing another iconic filmmaker, K. Subramanyam, to movies — he took his bow as screenwriter for the silent movies of Padmanabhan.

One of Padmanabhan's most successful films was Sethu Bandhanam (it also had an alternative title, Sethu Bandhan, in tune with the times). This movie narrated the familiar story of Rama waging a war against Ravana to rescue Seetha. The film begins after the familiar episode of Lanka Dahanam, and Hanuman (Parthasarathy) returning to Rama carrying the signet ring of Seetha.

Noted star P. B. Rangachari played Ravana in style. Another noted actor of that period Nott Annaji Rao played Rama. M. S. Mohanambal played Ravana's wife, Mandodhari. Her younger sister M. S. Sarojini who appeared in minor roles in her sister's movies later became a popular star of the 1940s, playing lead role in the productions of S. M. Sriramulu Naidu of Pakshiraja Studios.

Parthasarathy, a trained Carnatic musician, was also active in Tamil theatre being associated with the famed Suguna Vilas Sabha. Besides, he acted in many movies of the early decades, and later became a successful music composer joining Gemini Studios where he was an in-house composer along with Saluru Rajeswara Rao.

Parthasarathy's performance as Anjaneya came in for praise and proved a plus point for the film's box office success.

The popular artiste of yesteryear, K. S. Angamuthu, played the role of a demoness standing guard over Seetha in the Ashoka Vana where Ravana kept her prisoner.

(Angamuthu since the first day of her movie career always travelled to the studios in a bullockcart and continued to do so until her last film. The bullock cart travelling from Mint Street to Kilpauk and Kodambakkam was a familiar sight in those days!)

Padmanabhan directed the film and produced it under his banner ‘Oriental Films.'

M. D. Parthasarathy composed the music for the lyrics penned by Chidambaram Vaidyanatha Sarma. Almost everybody sang in the movie, including Rangachari (Ravana) and the demoness (Angamuthu). There was also a song and dance sequence by the demonesses, sprinkled with words such as ‘bullacku' and ‘sungudi pudavai.' Anachronism? But then, nobody cared!

In keeping with the trend of the day, Padmanabhan produced and directed a comedy short ‘Aasai', released along with the main movie, in which T. N. Kamalaveni and Puliyur Duraiswami Ayya (a noted actor of that day) played the lead roles.

Regrettably, except for a few stills of Sethu Bandhanam that are with M. D. Parthasarathy's family, very little material is available today about this successful film of 1937. Of course, no print exists today.

Remembered for: Padmanabhan's interesting onscreen narration of the familiar epic and the impressive acting by Rangachari, Parthasarathy and Mohanambal.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 2:50:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Sethu-Bandhanam-1937/article16048624.ece

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