Somewhat interestingly, very few films have been made in this part of the country with the East India Company as the background.
Maheswari, produced by T. R. Sundaram of Modern Theatres, is one such.
Written by C.V. Sridhar, the film was directed by T. R. Raghunath. A younger brother of Raja Chandrasekhar, who directed the early films of M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Raghunath began his career as an assistant sound recordist at Srinivasa Cinetone. In the evening of his life, he worked as the Director of the Tamil Nadu Films Division and Film Institute Department, when M. G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He passed away some years ago. Maheswari had music composed by G. Ramanathan, and lyrics by A. Marudhakasi, Atmanathan, and Kalyanasundaram. M. L. Vasanthakumari, Jikki, T.V. Ratnam, A.M. Rajah and S.C. Krishnan sang the songs. There was a dance sequence by Lakshmikantha (of ‘Ayya Saami Aaaoji Saami’ fame), choreographed by A. K. Chopra and V.P. Balaram, which became popular.
Maheswari narrates the story of Manickam (Gemini Ganesan) who is chased by the East India Company army and seeks refuge in a house belonging to Maheswari (Savithri). Both fall in love. Manickam’s father Dharmalingam (Thangavelu) demands a fat dowry. Though Maheswari’s mother, Kanthimathi (Saradambal), manages to give it, she is ridiculed by the villagers as a woman of loose morals. Dharmalingam refuses to accept Maheswari and sends her out of his home. Manickam, who is dependent on his father for everything, marries again. Shocked by the turn of events, Maheswari’s mother commits suicide. Maheswari moves around for a living when she meets a robber gang led by Mayathevan (N.S. Narayana Pillai) who is wanted by the East India Company. Impressed by her, Mayathevan makes her his chief assistant and renames her Rani Rangamma. In spite of living in comfort like a queen of the gang, she yearns for her husband. The East India Company offers rewards for her capture and Dharmalingam raises funds to pay the Company unaware of her real identity. What happens thereafter forms the rest of the film. In spite of the presence of Gemini and Savithri and well-written screenplay by Sridhar, the film did not do well at the box office.
Remembered for: the different theme, period sets and technical values of Modern Theaters, and good performaces by the leads.