Blast from the past - Kaattumaina 1963

February 12, 2012 04:12 pm | Updated 04:12 pm IST

Sheela and Prem nazir in a scene from the film. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sheela and Prem nazir in a scene from the film. Photo: Special Arrangement

Indian films with the jungle as backdrop were inspired by Hollywood. Films like the adventures of Tarzan, a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, were very popular.

‘Jungle movies' in India started with the silent movie ‘ King of Forest' (1926), produced by Royal Arts, with Jilloobai and Udwadia in lead roles. The Tamil film ‘Vanaraja Karzan' (1938) produced by Wadia Movietone jointly with Madras United Artists Corporation was the first film in this genre from the South. ‘Vanamala' (1951), the first jungle movie in Malayalam was followed by another one in this series, ‘Aana Valarthiya Vanambadi' (1961) produced and directed by P. Subramaniam under the banner of Neela Productions.

The unusual success of this Malayalam-Tamil bilingual film prompted Neela Productions to make ‘ Kaattumaina' in 1963.

The film was a huge hit. The Tamil version of the film, with the same title, was also a success. Shot at Merryland Studios and some forest locations in Kerala, the film was directed by P. Subramaniam..

Popular artists like Prem Nazir, S. P. Pillai, Jose Prakash, S. P. Pillai, Santhi, Sheela etc. starred in the film. C. L. Anandan, who became a star in South Indian cinema with his performances in Tamil films ‘Vijayapuri Veeran' (1960) and ‘Veerathirumakan' (1962), played the main role in the film. A master in wrestling and martial arts, Anandan impressed in his debut Malayalam film. An elephant, named Velayudhan, that featured in the film also proved a hit. The music composed by Brother Lakshmanan was excellent.

The story revolves around the tribal groups who inhabit two mountain ranges, Thenmala and Vanmala. They live peacefully under the rule and order of their chiefs. Maina (Santhi) is the adopted daughter of the Thenmala chief. She is in love with Veeran (Anandan), son of the Vanmala chief.

Neeli (Sheela), niece of the Vanmala chief, and Maina are good friends. The peaceful life here ends when dispute arises between the tribals.

Veeran and Maina meet each other secretly despite orders not to meet. Maina and Neeli also manage to retain their friendship. Prabhakaran (Prem Nazir), a young geologist, and his assistant Kadan Narapillai (S. P. Pillai) reach the mountain ranges in their search for mica deposits along the mountain ranges. Prabhakaran and Narapillai happen to save the life of the Thenmala priest from an accident. They become guests of Thenmala.

Maina supports Prabhakaran in his exploration and becomes attached to him like her brother. Prabhakaran is saved from an accident by Neeli. And they fall in love.

The Vanmala chief keeps Prabhakaran and Narapillai in prison when he comes to know that they are guests of their enemy. Veeran frees Prabhakaran at the request of Maina. Neeli is suspected for this and she is held captive by Vanmala. Veeran begins to suspect Maina's relationship with Prabhakaran.

Misunderstandings are cleared when Maina is identified by Prabhakaran as his own sister, separated in childhood. Prabhakaran finds rich mica deposits in the some caves of Vanmala. Neeli and Maina are married to Prabhakaran and Veeran respectively.

The enmity between the two groups melts and they unite.

The songs written by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair were tuned by Brother Lakshmanan. Some of them became very popular like, ‘Malamukalil maamarathil…' (Kamukara Purushothaman), ‘Vaa vaa vaa vaa vanarajavey…' (K. P. Udayabhanu-P.Susheela), ‘Kaattikurinji kaattikurinji…' (Susheela), ‘ Paadaan chundu vidarthiyathey …' (P. Leela) are some of the hits. The other songs include ‘Naanathal paathi virinja (Kamukara-Gracy), ‘Mayappetti undu…' (Mehaboob), and ‘Kazhuthil chippi undu…' (Leela-Renuka).

Will be remembered: As the Malayalam debut of actor C. L. Anandan, for its excellent music, immortal songs and as a successful ‘jungle movie.'

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