Blast from the past Cinema

Ammaiyappan (1954)

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S.S. Rajendran, who recently passed away at the age of 86, played the hero in Ammaiyappan. A top hero who once held his own against the likes of M. G. R., Sivaji, and Gemini Ganesan, he was known for his good looks and his remarkable dialogue delivery. So good was he at dialogues that he was even later on roped in to dub for Telugu actor Mukkamala Krishnamurthi.

A versatile artiste, he made his debut in cinema not as an actor but as a playback singer in Sri Andal, a mythological film with music by G. Ramanathan. How ironical that this Usilampatti actor should go on to make his debut in Parasakthi, a film that also marked the arrival of a future contemporary and rival actor — Sivaji Ganesan.

Ammaiyappan was also famous for being the directorial debut of A. Bhim Singh, who went on to have an illustrious career in Indian cinema. Spotted by legendary comedian N. S. Krishnan when working for a Madras-based Telugu daily, the director, following Ammaiyappan’s good reception, made a string of hits with Sivaji Ganesan before making his own films that shared the quirk of having their names begin with ‘Pa’ — Pava Mannippu, Pasamalar, Palum Pazhamum etc. Interestingly, his son, Lenin, is today a leading film editor in South India, having worked in films such as Nayagan, Gentleman, and Chennai 600028.

Ammaiyappan, produced by National Pictures and written by the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, dealt with three main tropes — power of love, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a cow in search of its calf. Actress G. Sakunthala plays Rajendran’s pair in this film that was shot at Newtone and Citadel Studios.

With music by T.R. Papa and lyrics by Karunanidhi himself and Suratha, M.K. Atmanathan and N.M. Muthukuttan, the film’s tracks were sung by M.L. Vasanthakumari, Tiruchi Loganathan, Sirgazhi Govindarajan, and Nagoor Hanifa. Shot by cinematographer G. Vittal Rao, the film’s striking feature is the lengthy alliterative dialogue by Karunanidhi.

Remembered For: the alliterative Tamil dialogue by Karunanidhi, and a fine performance by Rajendran.

S.S. Rajendran, G. Sakunthala, S. Varalakshmi, D.V. Narayanasami, D. Balasubramaniam, V.K. Ramasami, M.R. Swaminathan, M.N. Krishnan, M.A. Ganapathi, K.A. Ramakrishnan, E. Krishnamurthi, ‘Master’ Muthumanickam, N.S. Natarajan, ‘Nagoor’ Hanifa, P.A. Dakshinamurthi, K. Rathinam, Saraswathi

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 9:45:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/blast-from-the-past-ammaiyappan-1954/article6796876.ece

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