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Ezhandha Kaadhal (1941)

(Part 1)

During the early decades of Tamil cinema, there was a trend of doing more than one film as a single package. This trend was introduced by pioneer filmmaker K. Subramanyam. One personality who regularly made such two-in-one films was the cult figure and icon of Indian cinema N.S. Krishnan. Based in Coimbatore, he had a film production company named Asoka Films under which banner he made these movies, bankrolled by the South Indian film pioneer S.M. Sriramulu Naidu of Pakshiraja Films. Interestingly, along with many films in that period, there was a short film, a comedy made by N.S. Krishnan and released as one package. The short film often attracted greater attention than the main movie! Such was the genius of the ace comedian… One such two-in-one film was Ezhandha Kaadhal -Chandrahari released in 1941. Ezhandha Kaadhal was a stage play performed by the Tiruchi Amateur Sangam with some measure of success and was written for the screen by the now-forgotten Tamil cinema personality ‘Yadhartham’ Ponnusami Pillai (who was responsible in bringing V.C. Ganesan, later ‘Sivaji Ganesan’ to theatre).

In later years, NSK Nataka Sabha performed this as a stage play. V. Sahasranamam played the lead, because N.S. Krishnan was imprisoned for 30 months as an echo of the sensational Lakshmikantham murder case, in which he was charged along with M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. The play was more successful than the movie. Krishnan’s wife T.A. Mathuram was financially strained, and began to stage plays at the famous, but now forgotten Wall Tax Theatre (Othavaadai Theatre or Othavaadai Koothukotta) near Central Station. Later she went on stage without NSK, playing the lead role in the play Paithiakkaran (It was filmed in 1947 in which MGR, not yet a star, played the villain!).

In Ezhandha Kaadhal, a rich man on his deathbed gives Rs. 5,000 and the responsibility of bringing up his mother-less girl Padma (Premavathi) to his friend and close relative Somanathan Pillai (Ponnusami Pillai), with the request that he should get her married in due course to her uncle’s son Jagadish (K.P. Kamatchi). After the demise of her father, Padma lives with Somanathan’s family and his sons, and she grows into a lovely woman. One of Somanathan’s sons Jayapalan (O.N. Kittu) is drawn to her, and both fall in love, hoping to get married. However, the father does not approve of the love, and gets Padma married to Jagadish, and Jayapalan to a woman called Saroja (Mangalam). Padma’s life becomes miserable, and Jayapalan too is heartbroken and takes to drinking, and is soon sent out of the house.

Unable to forget Padma, he calls on her often, and Saroja and others spread rumours about the two meeting. One night while crossing a river bridge in the darkness, lightning strikes, resulting in Jayaraman losing both his eyes. Shortly, a bearded saadhu appears (‘Pulimoottai’ Ramasami) with a sacred thulasi chain. How he solves all the problems forms the rest of the story...

Trichur Premavathi had a fair measure of success playing the lead roles in some movies. The star couple N.S. Krishnan-T.A. Mathuram provided comic relief and sang songs such as ‘Therinja Pesanum…’ which became popular. C.S. Jayaraman, a ‘boy’ star in Tamil theatre who later became a well-known singer, lending his voice to top stars such as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, played a wandering mendicant and sang a few songs such as ‘Jagamadhiley Kaathalenum’ and ‘Paaraai Maanida Vaazhvu’. His most famous song, still remembered, is, ‘Indrupoi Naalai Vaa…’ in Sampoorna Ramayanam. He was Mu. Karunanidhi’s brother-in-law. He wrote the dialogue for filmmaker A.S.A. Sami in films such as Abhimanyu, without credit.

Ezhandha Kaadhal did not fare well, and only the melodious songs of C.S. Jayaraman (music N.S. Balakrishnan and K.M. Gowrisan) attracted attention. The film was directed by K.S. Mani, who was part of the NSK unit, and noted cinematographer E.R. Cooper handled the camera. The film was shot at Central Studios, Coimbatore, and was edited by Surya.

Remembered For The melodramatic storyline, pleasing music rendered by C.S. Jayaraman and comedy sequences of NSK and Mathuram.



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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:37:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/ezhandha-kaadhal-1941/article5538292.ece

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