T.R. Ramanna (original name T.R. Ramachandran) was one of the successful filmmakers of South Indian cinema, and was the younger brother of the ‘Dream Girl’ T.R. Rajakumari. Ramanna began his life as a sound recordist in a city studio and then made his way to film direction. He promoted the popular production company R.R. Pictures (with the initials of his sister and himself) and produced movies in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, many of which were successful.
One such successful film was Manapandhal , inspired by the Hollywood classic Billy Wilder’s Sabrina (1954), starring top Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Directed by one of the movie maestros of Hollywood, it became a classic and a box-office hit. Not surprisingly, Indian filmmakers adapted it to suit the Indian moviegoers’ tastes.
Ramanna made this film in Tamil and Telugu ( Intiki Deepam Illaley , featuring N.T. Ramarao, Kongara Jaggaiah and B. Saroja Devi)
Not many are aware that the Hollywood film was also adapted with minor changes in Hindi as Yeh Dillagi , starring Akshay Kumar, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan and produced by Yash Chopra. It was a box-office hit. The success uplifted the careers of Akshay Kumar and Kajol, who were nominated for Filmfare Awards.
Thuraiyur K. Murthi, a close associate of Ramanna, who worked with him on many of his movies, wrote the screenplay and dialogue. Lyrics were by Kannadasan and music was composed by maestros Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, with G.K. Venkatesh assisting them.
V.N. Reddi directed the film. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, he went to Bombay at an early age and qualified in cinematography. After an impressive career as a cinematographer, he became a director and directed many Hindi films and a few Telugu and Tamil movies. Along with A.S.A. Sami, he directed Ananda Jothi , starring MGR, Devika and a young Kamal Hassan, but the film did not fare well.
Manapandhal was on two brothers hailing from a wealthy family, with the elder one (Asokan) being an alcoholic, while the younger one (Rajendran) is a successful medical practitioner. The widowed mother (Kannamba) showers her love and affection on her two sons and tries to reform her elder alcoholic son, with little success. The younger son stays in another town with a widowed mother (Malathi) and her sprightly daughter (E.V. Saroja.) who falls in love with him; he too seems to show some interest in her. However, on a rail journey to his hometown, he meets an elderly man (Nagaiah) with an attractive daughter (Saroja Devi) and both fall in love and hope to marry soon. Meanwhile, the drunkard son’s mother hopes marriage will reform him and fixes his marriage with an attractive girl (Saroja Devi) without realising that her younger son is in love with her. The wedding happens, and the younger son, due to an accident, is unable to attend it and has no knowledge that the bride is his sweetheart. Later when he meets her, he is shocked. The husband suspects his wife and brother when he comes to know she was his sweetheart earlier. He decides to kill them. Meanwhile, the mother dies, leaving behind all the property to her daughter-in-law. Now, the doctor puts on an act of having become an alcoholic and makes overtures to his sister-in-law who slaps him. Watching this, her husband realises the truth and apologises to her. The family is reunited. While on a train journey, the doctor notices a young woman dressed as a bride lying on the railway line to commit suicide. The train stops in time and the doctor finds that the woman is the sprightly girl who is still in love with him. The two marry and live happily.
A handsome Rajendran impresses in a difficult role while Asokan as the drunken brother is also equally remarkable. Saroja Devi, glamorous as ever, also impresses with her acting, especially in the sequence where she slaps her brother-in-law and former lover. E.V. Saroja in a sprightly role sings and dances well. There are group dances with Rita and some choreographed by Hiralal and Gopalakrishnan.
The comedy is well-handled by ace comedian Thangavelu, with M. Saroja as his sweetheart and noted comedian Ramarao as her astrologer-father. This doctor shudders if anyone mentions the word ‘operation’ in his presence, and that ispart of the comedy.
The music was a plus point, which helped the success of the film. Two songs ‘Unakku Mattum’ (P. Susheela) and ‘Udalukku Uyir Kaaval’ (PB Sreenivos) filmed on Asokan became hits.
The other singers were S.C. Krishnan, T.S. Bhagavathi, M.R. Rajeswari, Mani and Janaki — S. Janaki, the famous singer she would be soon...
Manapandhal was a box-office success and ran for 100 days in many cinemas. V.N. Reddi’s deft directorial touches and cinematographic artistry contributed to the success.
Remembered For The performances of Rajendran, Asokan, Saroja Devi, Saroja and Kannamba, the melodious music, deft direction and impressive cinematography.