Blast From the Past Columns

Punarjanmam (1961)



A sentimental melodrama highlighting the dangers of alcohol addiction is a familiar theme in Indian cinema. Punarjanmam, which was produced by N. S. Draviam (N.S. Krishnan’s brother), under the banner of Vijaya Films, deals with such a theme. The film was directed by R.S. Mani, who trained under the American Tamil filmmaker, Ellis R. Dungan. This film was written by C.V. Sridhar, and it had Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini playing the lead roles.

Music was composed by noted music master, T. Chalapathi Rao, and the lyrics by Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram, Kavignar Kannadasan, Marutha Kasi, and Subbu Arumugham. Songs were rendered by P. Susheela, S. Janaki, T.M. Soundararajan, Sirgazhi Govindarajan, P. B. Srinivos, A. M. Rajah, Jikki and Saraswathi.

Shankar (Sivaji Ganesan) is a successful artist and lives with his mother (Kannamba). He takes to alcohol, and as a result, messes up his life. A beautiful young woman in his village, Parvathi (Padmini), is in love with him, but she is unable to make him give up alcohol. Her loving brother’s wife Kamakshi (Sundari Bai), however, hates Parvathi, and when she wins Rs. 1 lakh in a lottery, it only makes her headstrong. Parvathi suffers the brunt of her ill-treatment. Kamakshi’s daughter, Pushpa (Ragini), meanwhile, falls in love with her music teacher. The mother decides to get them married even though her son does not approve.

In order to change himself, Shankar goes to Madras, leads a reformed life, and earns well with his artistic skills. Kamakshi, meanwhile, brings his family house to auction. Shankar’s mother is shocked and later passes away. However, just in time, Shankar comes with his earnings and stops the auction. He leaves his village once more. Parvathi, who is engaged to marry someone, is heartbroken and consumes poison. Shankar rushes to save her and gives her a new lease of life. Hence, the title in Tamil, Punarjanmam (Rebirth). The lovers are united.

Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini excel in their roles. Padmini carried the film on her shoulders with her outstanding performance.

The screenplay and dialogue written by Sridhar was much appreciated, and coupled with R.S. Mani’s able direction, the film created a good impact.

However, as the storyline was familiar, the film did not do as well as expected. There were quite a few song and dance duet sequences, with Padmini herself rendering a song.

The film was produced at the Vijaya Vauhini Studios, Madras.  Aloysius Vincent was the cinematographer while the choreography was handled by Madhavan, Hiralal and Sohanlal.

Remembered for: The brilliant performances by Padmini and Sivaji Ganesan, its interesting screenplay, the dialogue of Sridhar and the deft direction of the experienced filmmaker, R.S. Mani.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 2:06:01 pm |