blast from the past Columns

Suryaputhri (1941)


An early film of T.R. Rajakumari, the dream girl of South Indian cinema, described by the iconic Tamil writer ‘Kalki’ (Ra. Krishnamurthi) as ‘kollum vizhiyaal’ (one with eyes that kill), she was credited as merely Rajakumari — without her famous initials.

The American Tamil filmmaker Ellis R. Dungan directed this film. With his associate J. Moylan, Dungan came to India seeking work as a young man in his 20s during mid-1930s and blossomed forth as a full-fledged director with the hit Sathi Leelavathi (1936) in which MGR, M.K. Radha, T.S. Balaiah and S.S. Vasan (as writer) took their bow in cinema.

Dungan cast Rajakmari in a supportive role — as the elder queen of king Samvaran (Kothamangalam Seenu), who falls in love with a celestial beauty (K.R. Chellam). Writer-actor-director and poet, Kothamangalam Subbu who also played the role of the Sun God in the movie, wrote the script.

K.R. Chellam played very few roles of importance such as this one, and was later relegated to comedy roles paired with the noted comedian K. Sarangapani. She did not rise to expected heights, save for a controversial role she played in the movie Karzan.

On a festival day, sage Narada (‘Master’ Rajagopal) meets Sun God (Subbu) and sings praises of him. He is accosted by Thailakethu, the king of yakshas (K.S. Gopalakrishnan) who does not like Narada praising the Sun God. He is upset and decides to teach Narada a lesson. Thapathi (Chellam) is the daughter of the Sun God, and falls in love with the king Samvaran even without meeting him. The yaksha king is in love with her. So, he tries to blackmail her into giving up the king.

The king’s first wife Sulochana (Rajakumari) undertakes several sacrifices to save her husband. She also prays to the Sun God, and helped by Narada the evil designs of the yaksha king are destroyed. The king marries Thapathi, and they all live happily thereafter…..

Gopalakrishnan who wrote the story did not enjoy a successful career as filmmaker. He worked at Gemini Studios and directed the hit film Chakradhari (1948). Moylan too did not have a successful career and his wife worked at Gemini Studios as garden supervisor.

The film was shot at the MPPC Studios owned by K. Subramanyam and later became Gemini Studios, taken over by S.S. Vasan. Sailen Bose and Kamal Ghosh, both talented cinematographers, were in charge of cinematography.

Haripadachandra, make-up maestro, better known as Hari Babu, was in charge of the make-up. Lyrics were by Papanasam Brothers (Sivan and Rajagopala Iyer) while music direction was by V.S. Parthasarathy Ayyangar, a member of the Subramanyam unit.

Despite of Dungan and the impressive camerawork, the film did not do well at the box-office and today, very few remember it. The next Rajakumari film released soon after, Kachadevayani (1941) sky rocketed her to fame and fortune….

Remembered For The deft direction of Dungan, and the impressive lens work of Sailen Bose and Kamal Ghosh…

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 10:42:43 PM |

Next Story