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Jailpully: 1957

A still from the movie

A still from the movie  

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Music and songs has always been an integral part of Indian cinema. Some films are remembered for their songs and nothing else. When one listens to the immortal love duet Sangeethamee jeevitham oru madhura sangeethamee jeevitham… rendered by Kamukara Purushothaman and Santha P. Nair it instantly brings to mind the crime thriller Jailpully, released on October 3, 1957. It is for this one song that this film is remembered even today.

Film songs are classified and categorised based on the prominent musical instruments used in the background score. This song was probably the first ‘piano song’ in Malayalam cinema. Any compilation of old songs is sure to include this perennial hit.

Produced and directed by P.Subramaniam for Neela Productions the film was shot at Merryland Studios. The script and dialogues of this crime thriller were by Muttathu Varkey. It was edited by K.D. George and cinematography by N.S. Mani.

The cast included among others Prem Nazir, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, T.S. Muthiah, S.P. Pillai, Bahadur, Miss Kumari, and Santhi. The comic track involving S.P. Pillai and Bahadur, who play spies in the crime investigation, was a highpoint.

Gopi (Prem Nazir) is an unemployed graduate who struggles to take care of his sick mother. He gets no help from his rich uncle. The money that he earns by pulling a rickshaw is stolen. And when he approaches his uncle for help he is rudely asked to go and steal. In an act of desperation Gopi attempts to steal money from his uncle’s house and is caught red-handed following which he is sent to jail.

Gopi escapes from jail only to know that his mother had passed away. He leaves the village and goes to a far away town. Here he meets Santha (Miss Kumari) who offers him refuge in her home. Gopi hides his true identity and introduces himself as Ravi. Santha helps him get a job in the company where she works. Gopi reveals his past to Santha who takes pity on the young man’s misfortune.

Santha falls in love with Gopi and her father wants them to get married. Gopi wins the trust of Sekharan Muthalali (Muthiah), the owner of the company. He brings to the notice of Sekharan Muthalali the mismanagement in the company and the evil machinations of Madhu (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair), the manager. Madhu is dismissed from the company and Gopi is elevated to the post of manager.

Sekharan Muthalali plans to get his only daughter Prema (Santhi) married to Gopi. In his greed for wealth and position Gopi forgets Santha and agrees to marry Prema. He decides to get rid of Santha as she knows his past. He imposes false charges on her and gets Santha dismissed from service. Santha’s father dies of shock at his daughter’s ill fate.

Gopi now decides to kill Santha. He takes her on a boating trip, throws her into the water causing her to drown. Gopi is arrested on charges of murder. Now come the twists and turns in this story. During the trial, Santha appears in the court to give evidence. She states that she fell into the river by accident and that Gopi is not guilty. The truth is that Madhu rescues Santha.

Though Gopi is absolved of the charges, the CID officer investigating the jail break reaches the court and takes him into custody. Santha promises to wait for him. Gopi is freed from jail after a short jail sentence and marries Santha.

Deviating from his usual hero’s roles, Prem Nazir excelled in this negative role. This trend of negative heroes started with the Hindi film Kismet (1943) and continued in South Indian cinema too. Tamil films like MGR’s Panakkari (1953), Sivaji Ganeshan’s Thirumbippaar (1953), Andha Naal (1954), Naane Raja (1956) and Gemini Ganeshan’s Ashai Makan (1953) are some examples of this trend.

The songs written by Thirunainarkurichi Madhavan Nair and tuned by Brother Lakshmanan became hits though some of the songs were copies of popular Hindi and Tamil film tunes. The most popular of them was Sangeethamee jeevitham…(Purushothaman-Santha P. Nair). And the scene where hero was picturised playing the piano with the heroine dancing became a model for many romantic scenes later. Njaan ariyathen… (Purushothaman-P. Leela) was a copy of S.Rajeswara Rao’s composition Vrindavanamum nandakumaranum…from the Tamil/Telugu bilingual Missiyamma/Missamma (1954). Other popular songs in this film were Vellinilavathu…(Purushothaman-Leela), Namasthe Kairali…(Leela), and Aadiyum kaliyadiyum…(Santha P. Nair).

Will be remembered: As a successful crime thriller and for its music, especially the romantic hit Sangeethamee jeevitham

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2018 1:48:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/old-is-gold-jailpully-1957/article7800305.ece

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