Muthal Thethi is a tear-jerker (also made in Kannada) produced by B. R. Panthulu, as the maiden venture of his Padmini Pictures. The film is based on a story by Dada Mirasee and the screenplay and dialogue are by P. Neelakantan, who directed the Tamil version.
The story revolves around the life of a middle-class bank employee Sivagnanam (played by Sivaji Ganesan) and his family. Sivagnanam works as a clerk and looks forward to the first of every month for his salary. He has three children, a girl Kamala, of marriageable age, and two young school-going children, Mohan and Susheela. His wife, Lakshmi (Anjali Devi), manages the family on his meagre monthly salary.
Once, when Sivagnanam goes to the bank on his salary day, he is shocked to find that the bank has been closed down permanently. Desperately, he searches for jobs but without success. In despair, he jumps into a well and commits suicide.
His spirit is produced before Lord Yama, who accuses him of committing an inexcusable crime. Yama then sends him back to earth as a spirit, for him to see how his family is struggling. Back on earth as an invisible spirit, he sees his wife struggling, but as he is a spirit, he is unable to console her. He also witnesses his friend swindling away the insurance money that was given to his family after his death. His young son, as he finds out, has started selling newspapers.
His eldest daughter is raped and she too jumps into the well and commits suicide. His wife, who comes to know about her daughter, kills the person who raped her daughter and she too ends her life.
Now suddenly, Sivagnanam wakes up, realises that he is very much alive and finds that all the events were just a dream.
Sivaji Ganesan, as usual, is in top form in the role of a suffering bank clerk and is ably supported by Anjali Devi. N. S. Krishnan and T.A. Madhuram provide comic relief with a satire track on the problems of the middle-class. One song, written by Udumalai Narayana Kavi and sung by N. S. Krishnan, ‘Onnilirunthu iruvathu varaikkum kondaattam…’ was a hit.
Muthal Thethi was based on a Hindi film, Paheli Tarikh . There was also a dance drama featuring children. The film was only an average success.
The music was composed by T. G. Lingappa and the lyrics were penned by K. D. Santhanam and Udumalai Narayana Kavi. V. Ramamurthi was the cinematographer, with audiography by V. S. Raghavan.
Art direction was by the veteran A. K. Sekhar, and make-up and costumes were by Hari Babu and M. G. Naidu respectively. The film was edited by Devarajan.
The film was shot at Revathi Studios, and was backed by the veteran A. L. Srinivasan, under his banner, Madras Pictures.
Remembered for : Fine performances by Sivaji Ganesan, and for the comedy track and songs of NSK and T. A. Madhuram.