Kuravanji was produced under the banner Mekala Pictures by Mu. Karunanidhi, RM. Veerappan and A. Kasilingam. Mu. Karunanidhi wrote the story and dialogue in his characteristic style. The film was directed by editor-turned-filmmaker Kasilingam, a close associate of Karunanidhi.
The film had a formidable cast, besides Sivaji Ganesan, Savithri and Pandari Bai, consisting of old-timers such as T.K. Sampangi, Senthamarai, M. R. Santhanam, Karikol Raju, R. Balasubramaniam, Ramadas, M.N. Krishnan, Wahab Kashmiri, C.K. Saraswathi, and ‘Kuladeivam’ Rajagopal.
Kuravanji is a traditional ballet art form of Tamil Nadu, but in this film there is hardly anything of this except the title and a song and dance sequence inspired by Thirikooda Rasappa Kavirayar’s ‘Kutrala Kuravanji.’ The song was rendered by Chidambaram S. Jayaraman (related to Mu. Karunanidhi), P. Leela, Ramaiah and A.P. Komala. The music was composed by the well-known music composer of his day, T.R. Papa.
Kumari Vanaja, L. Vijayalakshmi, Padmini Priyadarshini and Lakshmirajam performed the dances, choreographed by K. N. Dandayudhapani and Krishna Raju.
The lyrics were penned by Kavignar Kannadasan, Thanjai Ramaiah Das, Ra. Krittinamurthi and Rasappa Kavirayar.
The film tells the story of Thenpandiko, the king of Inbapuri. Ellaipuram is a part of the kingdom and the king appoints his brother, Mukhari, to rule it. Mukhari has a minister, Imaya, who has evil designs. Mukhari falls a prey to his evil plans, and besides taking over Ellaipuram, he plans to usurp Inbapuri from his brother.
To help the suffering people, enters a man named Kadhiravan, hailing from the royal family. He moves around the kingdom in the guise of a vagabond. Princess Kumari wishes to marry him, while he falls in love with Ponni, who is from the fisher folk community. Coming to know of this, Kadhiravan’s brother is furious. The princess is equally upset, but Kadhiravan is more interested in saving the people. Soon there is a protest led by him that gains momentum. What happens to it is narrated in the latter half of the film…
Sivaji Ganesan as the people’s leader was in his usual form, while Savithri was his poor sweetheart.
Director Kasilingam who was earlier a talented editor made quite a few films. For a brief while, he was the top executive of the Tamil Nadu State Film Institute and Films Division in Taramani.
Despite the fine dialogue by Mu. Karunanidhi, performances by top-ranking stars and supporting cast, captivating dances and pleasing music, the film did not do well.
Remembered for: the catchy title, poetic dialogue of Mu. Karunanidhi, fine performances of Sivaji Ganesan, Savithri and Pandari Bai, and great dances.