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Konjum Salangai 1962

A fabulously mounted production, shot in Technicolor, Konjum Salangai was perhaps the only film made in this part of the country, which had Bharatanatyam as its theme. Konjum Salangai, loosely translated, means enticing anklets. Somewhat surprisingly, there is no credit for the story, and the dialogue was written by Ku. Ma. Balasubramaniam, a well-known scenarist of the day, while the songs were written by Kannadasan, Ku. Ma. Balasubramaniam, and V. Seetharaman. The film was shot in three studios — Newtone Studios and Narasu Studios in Madras, and Raman Studio in Bombay owned by M.V. Raman, a qualified commercial auditor.

Konjum Salangai had an impressive cast, comprising Gemini Ganesan, Savithri, R.S. Manohar and Kumari Kamala, who was a fine Bharatanatyam dancer. A king Parthiban (Ramadas) gifts a rare anklet ( salangai) to a dancer Aparajita (Kumari Madhuri). She incurs the displeasure of people who do not like a dancer having a hold over the kingdom. She begets the king’s son, Amarendran and hands him over to a priest along with the anklet. She dies after extracting a promise from him that the truth will be revealed at an appropriate time.

Amarendran grows into a strong young man (Gemini Ganesan) interested in music, dancing and martial arts.

One day, a special festival is arranged and the priest thinks it is time to reveal the secret. He carries the anklet in a wooden box, and while crossing a river in floods, he loses the anklet.

It is found by Amarendran, who also rescues a dancer Mallika (Kumari Kamala) from the floods. He hands over the anklet to the king. Amarendran also happens to meet a beautiful singer Shantha (Savithri), who falls in love with him. Mallika impresses the king, is subsequently appointed the court dancer and gets the anklet as a gift.

In another dance competition, Mallika dances with Kamavalli (Kushalakumari) and the anklet gets stolen due to a conspiracy. The villain Nagadevan (Manohar) lusts after Mallika. How Amarendran and Shantha are united forms the rest of the story.

The music composed by S.M. Subbaiah Naidu expectedly plays a major role in the film. One of the interesting sequences was the hero (Ganesan) playing the nagaswaram and Shantha singing. The nagaswaram was played by Karukurichi Arunachalam, while new entrant S. Janaki sang ‘Singara Velane Deva’. This song and the singer went on to create history.

Not many are aware that this song was shot in a different way. The singing by Janaki was recorded at the Raman Studio in Bombay, while the nagaswaram by Karukurichi Arunachalam was recorded in Madras, and the two tracks were mixed at a time when there were not many technical advancements.

The other singers were T.M. Soundararajan, P. Leela, P. Susheela and Rajalakshmi.

The film was processed in London under the direct supervision of Raman, an excellent editor, besides being a fine filmmaker.

Kumari Kamala rose to great heights with her performance.

Remembered for: the dance sequences of Kumari Kamala, the song ‘Singara Velane Deva’, and exquisite costumes and sets.

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Printable version | Jan 14, 2021 3:17:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/blast-from-past-konjum-salangai-1962/article7238859.ece

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