Kandhan Studio owned by Kandhan and Company was one of the old studios of Coimbatore of which no trace remains today. One of its prestigious productions was Arayichimani or Manuneethi Chozhan . This movie with two titles (common during those decades), was directed by the sadly neglected pioneer of Indian cinema P.K. Raja Sandow, assisted by Raghbhir Ramye.
E.R. Cooper, a noted cinematographer of the day, handled the camera while the editor was ‘Panju’, who signed his name as Panjabi. Krishnan, later, part of the famed ‘Krishnan-Panju’ team, was then in charge of the laboratory of the studio. Krishnan-Panju went on to create history in Indian cinema as directors, making over 90 films in many languages, including Tamil and Hindi, with many of them proving to be box-office hits and cult movies. M.D. Rajaram was the sound recordist, fairly active during that period, but today he is forgotten.
The film had an impressive cast with noted character actor of the day R. Balasubramaniam playing the king Manuneethi Chozhan and popular actress of her day M.R. Santhanalakshmi playing his queen.
Interestingly, the multitalented ‘Veena’ S. Balachandar, who was only 15, played the Chola prince Vitangan. The prince is born to the childless royal couple after performing a yaga to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi.
While hunting in the forest, the prince meets a young woman named Kalavalli (Varalakshmi), the daughter of the minister and they fall in love and meet in secret. Coming to know of the love affair, the girl’s father advises the prince to forget her, but he does not agree. Meanwhile, the Chola king conducts his heir’s crowning ceremony in style. Subsequently, the obstacles are removed and the lovers marry…
The most popular story involves the king and his prince. A calf is being run over by the prince, and the mother cow rings the Bell of Justice, drawing the attention of the king to rectify the injustice done to her. The king comes to know that his son was responsible, and orders a similar punishment to the son. The gods appear and render justice, restoring the calf back to life. This part of the story was underplayed for reasons not known.
The story was by Kavi Kunjaram while the lyrics were by Kambadasan, both forgotten today. The music direction was by Srinivasa Rao Shinde about whom little is known today. The music was composed in Carnatic music with ragas such as Karaharapriya, Mohanam, Saraswathi and several others.
Balachandar and Varalakshmi also sang duets while Varalakshmi rendered solo songs in her melodious voice. Comedy pair N.S. Krishnan and T.A. Mathuram provided comic relief and sang a duet too.
R. Balasubramaniam, who acted in several movies during his long innings in Tamil cinema, fitted the role well showcasing a regal bearing and impressive personality. Santhanalakshmi played the lead role in many movies and her most successful film was Ambikapathi in which M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar played the male lead. With advancing years, she switched to playing roles as a mother, at which she was equally successful.
A statue of the famed king adorns the compound of the Madras High Court, and attracts many visitors. The film was only a reasonable success.
Remembered For The popular story of the celebrated Chola king and his sense of justice.