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Blast from the past: Prema Bandhan 1941

A popular film of its day , Prema Bandhan, produced by Famous Films, featured three popular personalities of Tamil cinema, M.K. Radha, T. Suryakumari, and R.B. Lakshmi Devi. The film was directed by another important personality of Indian cinema, Bhagwan, who also played the lead in most of his films. Despite his stocky physique, he was an excellent dancer and a good comedian. His big, expressive eyes added to his performances.

Though he hailed from Bombay, he made films in the Madras Presidency. The first film of his that became a huge hit was Vana Mohini, a rehash of the Hollywood movie, Jungle Princess, starring Dorothy Lamour (1936). Vana Mohini had Thavamani Devi known as ‘Singalathu Kuyil’ because she hailed from Sri Lanka. A feature of this hit movie was that the music composer, Ram Chitalkar, also hailed from Bombay. Soon after, he created history in Hindi cinema under the name C. Ramchandra. Bhagwan’s biggest hit was Albela, in which he played the hero with Hindi star Geeta Bali.

T. Suryakumari, who plays one of the female leads in Prema Bandhan, hailed from a prominent family in the Madras Presidency, and was the niece of the Congress leader, patriot, and top lawyer, Tanguturi Prakasam. Slim, tall and attractive, she sang her way into movies. The song ‘Aiyaa sirupenn’ she sang in Adrishtam was a super hit in which she plays a young girl begging for food. She did some Hindi films too. During the 1950s when a beauty contest was introduced for the first time in Madras city, she was chosen as ‘Miss Madras’. She was also one of the early female artistes to play Sage Narada after the legendary M.S. Subbulakshmi played it in Y.V. Rao’s Savithri (1941).

R.B. Laxmi Devi, the other actress in the film, hailed from one of the richest families of North Madras. She was far ahead of her times and was often found riding a horse on the famed Marina beach road. She also did stunts in her Hindi films without using a body double. The story of Prema Bandhan was written by Padhuk Bhat, and the screenplay, dialogue and the lyrics were by S.G. Chellappa Iyer, brother of the Tamil theatre icon, S.G. Kittappa. Chellappa also played a role in the movie. Another popular actor of the day was S.R. Sandow, so named because of his physique. K.S. Angamuthu was an actress who came to studios in Kodambakkam and Kilpauk in a double bullock cart from her house in Georgetown, and people used to wait in front of the studios to cheer her. The music was composed by Shanthikumar Desai, and P. Pullaiah supervised the making of the film.

The story is a rather predictable love triangle — a man Ananthu (Radha) falling in love with two women, Lalitha (Suryakumari) and Neela (Lakshmi Devi). A wealthy man Bhaskar (Swami) is also in love with Neela and tries to sabotage the romance. A car driven by Neela meets with an accident and, to everybody’s surprise, she says, before breathing her last, that she has planned it deliberately so that Lalitha can marry Ananthu.

The film was a reasonable success mainly because of the performances of Radha, Suryakumari and Lakshmi Devi.

Remembered for: the performances of the lead artistes, and the deft direction of Bhagwan.



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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 3:43:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/blast-from-the-past-prema-bandhan-1941/article6818674.ece

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