Blast from the past Cinema

Thamarai Kulam 1959

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TAMILSowcar Janaki, V. Gopalakrishnan, M.R. Radha, N.N. Kannappa, K. Sarangapani, V.S. Raghavan, S.A. Asokan, ‘Kaka’ Radhakrishnan, S.N. Lakshmi, Padmini Priyadarshini, and Nagesh (debut)

Thamarai Kulam was produced by Kalyani Pictures, which was formed by a group of like-minded people to promote cinema with Leftist leanings. It was directed by V. Srinivasan, who later became popular as Muktha Srinivasan with an enviable track record of films to his credit.

The film has an interesting back story which was narrated by Muktha himself a few days ago when he spoke to this writer about the making of this movie. Thamarai Kulam earned a footnote in the history of Tamil cinema as the movie debut of the icon of Tamil film comedy, C.K. Nagesh. He was struggling to get a break in movies and was seen only in some stage plays. Muktha watched him perform a comedy role in a play at a popular theatre in Mylapore. Impressed, he engaged him for a comedy role on a salary of Rs. 2, 500, a windfall for Nagesh at that time. However, in an interview that appeared in The Hindu, Nagesh mentioned that his debut was in Sridhar’s Nenjil Ore Alayam and made no mention of this film. Muktha contacted The Hindu and apprised them of the fact. They in turn contacted Nagesh and asked him to convey his apologies to Muktha which he did!

Interestingly, the song book does not carry the name of Nagesh, nor does it carry the names of the lyricists. The songs were sung by P. Susheela, T.A. Mothi, P. Leela, Sirgazhi Govindarajan, S.C. Krishnan, A.P. Komala and ‘Nellore’ Janaki (Janaki was not yet a famous singer. She married in Nellore and lived there for sometime before she got a break in movies).

Thamarai Kulam, written by S. R. Natarajan, one of the producers, had a Leftist theme. The camera was by S.R. Veerabahu, also one of the producers. The music was composed by noted Kannada film music composer H. Padmanabha Sarma and T.A. Mothi, who was a noted playback singer.

A greedy zamindar prohibits the villagers from using the village tank, Thamaraikulam. The villagers organise a revolution under the leadership of Chellaiah, the son of a landowner, who goes to Madras to seek the help of his friend, Sekhar. Complications then occur, including kidnapping, torture of the heroine, and the murder of Sekhar. How these problems are solved by the hero and the villagers is narrated in the second half of the movie.

The dances were choreographed by S.M. Ramkumar and Kameswaran. The film was shot at Golden Studios which does not exist today. The film did not go down well with the moviegoers of that period, as Tamil cinema was then dominated by movies of Sivaji Ganesan with accent on high-flown, alliterative dialogue.

Remembered as: the debut film of ace comedian Nagesh and the early movie of the talented filmmaker Muktha Srinivasan.



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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 3:15:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/blast-from-the-past-thamarai-kulam-1959/article7214015.ece

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