Blast from the Past Cinema

Chitoor Rani Padmini (1963)

A star-studded movie featuring Sivaji Ganesan and Vyjayanthimala in the lead roles, Chitoor Rani Padmini was directed by Chithrapu Narayanamurthi who made films in Telugu and Tamil with a good measure of success. This film was produced under the banner Uma Pictures, a company owned by RM Ramanathan, who was also a sound recordist of the famous Newtone Studios. The story and screenplay were written by C. V. Sridhar, along with Elangovan. The story of Chitoor Rani Padmini of Rajasthan is well known among Indians, and somewhat interestingly, historians have found and gone on record that Rani Padmini was a figment of fiction. One historian in his blog has stated that there is no portrait of the queen anywhere in Rajasthan, and the ones seen are all based on the imagination of the painters.

The film, which is described as ‘historical fiction’ in write-ups, narrates the familiar story of the queen and the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s wild infatuation for her. The women of that period, especially of royal blood, did not appear in person and were in purdah. In one instance, the Delhi Sultan threatened to destroy Rajasthan if he wasn’t permitted to see Rani Padmini. Left with no option, Rana, her husband, permitted Padmini to stand in front of the palace pond and her reflection in the water could be seen in a mirror in a room. He, meanwhile, made a secret plan to kill Alauddin. As the palace women dressed in ceremonial robes were passing through in palanquins, Padmini, who had no interest in presenting herself before a stranger, jumped into the ceremonial fire, committing ‘sati.’ Sivaji Ganesan played the Rana of Chitoor, while Rani Padmini was played by Vyjayanthimala, an outstanding Bharatanatyam dancer. Because of her, the director had dance sequences for the queen. The Rajasthani queen never danced, which went against the grain of the film, thus affecting box office returns.

M.N. Nambiar as Khilji performed in his characteristic fashion, which was a plus point to the film. Maestro art director and production designer A. K. Sekhar of the immortal Ramnoth-Sekhar duo excellently designed the sets and costumes.

G. Ramanathan composed the music in his own style and the songs were rendered by Sirgazhi Govindarajan, P. Susheela, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi and S. Janaki. Though the songs were melodic, none of them became hits.

Despite the star-studded cast, the film failed at the box office, much to the disappointment of the actors, director and producer.

Somewhat interestingly, not many films in other languages have been made about the story. However, one television serial in Hindi about Rani Padmini sacrificing her life was made and it had a good reception.

Remembered for: the star cast, dances of Vyjayanthimala, pleasing music of G. Ramanathan and artistic sets of A.K. Sekhar.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 3:33:24 PM |

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