Viduthalai 1954


John Galsworthy (1867-1933), one of the leading figures of English Literature, belonged to the ‘old school tie' English upper middle class. After doing Law, he began to write, at first for his own amusement, but soon won recognition. Galsworthy had written a considerable number of novels, short stories and plays. As a novelist, he is chiefly known for his work, ‘The Forsyte Saga'. One of his noted plays is ‘The First and the Last', which consisted of a mere three scenes. His plays were mostly based on social grievances such as the double standard applied to the upper and lower classes in England. In 1932, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. A year later, he passed away.

K. Ramnoth, the one-man institution of South Indian Cinema, was a graduate in English Literature and a voracious reader. During the early decades of the 20th Century, the novels of Galsworthy such as ‘The Man of Property' and ‘The Forsyte Saga' were prescribed by Indian universities for Non-Detailed Study. Obviously familiar with the works of Galsworthy, Ramnoth ventured into production and took up the play ‘The First and The Last' for adaptation under the title Viduthalai.

He stuck to the basic theme of the play in his Tamil film, which was an offbeat story in those days. A lawyer soon to become a judge (Nagaiah) has a brother (Manohar) whose wife (Kumudhini) is forcibly taken away by a villain. The brother attacks him during which the villain dies. Anxious that the murder might affect his elevation, the lawyer finds a way for his brother to escape. He foists the case on a poor man (Peer Mohammed) who is sentenced to death by the judge (Nott Annaji Rao). Meanwhile, feeling remorseful, the brother and his wife commit suicide, leaving a confessional note. The lawyer is shocked by the double suicide and the note. Once again scared that it might upset his impending judgeship, he sets fire to the letter. Cops arrive and arrest the lawyer, under the impression that he had committed the double murder.

Ramnoth made the interesting storyline into a top class movie in which Nagaiah played the lawyer and Manohar, the ill-fated brother. Manohar who had created an impact as hero in his debut, Ramnoth's classic Ezhai Padum Paadu (1950, Gemini Ganesh was the villain!), and R. M. Krishnaswami's hit movie Rajambal (1952), later emerged as a stock villain of Tamil Cinema.

The dialogue was written by Velavan and the screenplay by Ramnoth. The music was by Lakshman Raghunath and the lyrics by Subbu Arumugam, Velavan and Angumangalam Subbu.

G. Ramakrishnan, Ramnoth's nephew, later a noted Tamil filmmaker, handled the production, learning the ropes under his illustrious uncle.

Shot at Film Centre Studio in Kodambakkam under the banner ‘New Era Productions', the movie bombed at the box office, leaving Ramnoth mired in legal cases. Sadly, the problems began to affect him deeply and he died on January 1, 1956 (curiously also the day of his birth — New Year's Day, 1912), when he was only 44.

Remembered for the offbeat storyline, excellent direction by Ramnoth and the brilliant performances by Nagaiah and Manohar.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:27:40 PM |

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