A. Bhim Singh was one of the most successful filmmakers of India. Known for his 'Pa' films ( Pava Mannippu, Pathi Bhakthi, Palum Pazhamum, Pasamalar and Paarthaal Pasi Theerum), Bhim's films generally dealt with domestic problems, one of the reasons for their tremendous success. He did not believe in incredible stunt sequences or ‘item numbers’ in his films, and ensured that his movies always had family at its centre. Interestingly, this ace director never made a film with M.G.R.
Bhim Singh’s films starred several top names of Tamil cinema at the time, and Bhagapirivinai is no exception. Besides the cast, the film had excellent dialogues by M.S. Solamalaithat which weren't preachy.
Another strong point of his films were their melodious and meaningful songs. In Bhagapirivinai, the composers were Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, with lyrics written by Kannadasan, A. Marudhakasi, and Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram (who passed away just before the release of the film). The singers included T. M. Soundararajan, Sirgazhi Govindarajan, P. Leela, P. Susheela, A. L. Raghavan, Jamunarani, G. S. Mani, and D. L. Rajeswari (who later became L. R. Eswari).
The film was produced by G. N. Velumani from Gobichettipalayam, who began life as a costume maker before rising to become a top Tamil producer.
Bhagapirivinai tells the story of two brothers who live in a happy, joint family. The younger brother (Subbaiah) and wife Meenakshi (M.V. Rajamma) have two sons, Kannayan (Sivaji Ganesan) and Mani (Nambiar). Mani studies in Madras, while Kannayan unfortunately loses the use of his left hand and feet. Akilandam (C. K. Saraswsathi), meanwhile, is the elder brother’s (Balaiah’s) wife. They have no children and this makes Akilandam envious of her brother-in-law’s wife and sons. Her brother Singaram (Radha) and sister Amutha (Tambaram Lalitha) from Singapore come to stay. Singaram, a crook, begins to sow seeds of disunity in the joint family.
Much to the shock of the physically challenged boy and his parents, the family is broken up and the property divided. To help the family, the housemaid (Saroja Devi) comes forward to marry Kannayan. With Singaram, the family wealth slowly melts away. Kannayan comes to Madras for medical treatment where electric shock therapy cures him. He now realises how Singaram has been cheating everybody. How he takes up the cudgels with the help of his wife to save the family and reunite them forms the latter half of the film.
Sivaji’s performance as the physically challenged person ranks as one of the finest in his career. The songs ‘Thangathiley oru kurai’ and ‘En piranthai maganey’ became big hits.
The film was shot at Neptune Studio (later Sathya Studio) in Adyar. G. Vittal Rao was the man behind the camera and Bhim Singh himself edited the film. Hari Babu and Gajapathi were in charge of make-up, while G.S. Mani, a musicologist, assisted in composing the music. The dances were choreographed by Madhavan, Chinnilal and Sampath.
The film won the President’s Silver Medal for the Best Regional Language Movie. Remade in Hindi as Khandaan by Bhim Singh, it was a major hit again. The film was also made in Telugu, Malayalam and Sinhalese.
Remembered for: the family-based storyline, Sivaji's performance and good music.