Blast from the past Cinema

Kanchi Thalaivan(1963)

A stll from Kanchi Thalaivan

A stll from Kanchi Thalaivan  

Star cast: M.G. Ramachandran, P. Bhanumathi, S.S. Rajendran, C.R. Vijayakumari, M.R. Radha, S.A. Ashokan, T.A. Mathuram, ‘Valayapathi’ Muthukrishnan, G. Sakunthala, D.V. Narayanaswami, S.V. Ramadas, C.R. Manorama, Nalini, Mala, S.M. Thirupathisami, T.V. Sivanandam

Kanchi Thalaivan earned a footnote in the history of Tamil cinema for two reasons. It featured two icons of cinema and the political history of India.

MGR and Mu. Karunanidhi were on the same side of the fence and worked together in this film. Karunanidhi, Murasoli Maran and A. Kasilingam produced the film under Mekala Picutres.

Directed by A. Kasilingam, the film belongs to the historical fiction genre. It deals with the rivalry between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. King Narasimha Pallavan (MGR), also known as Mamallan, rules his kingdom at Kanchipuram. Pulikesi (S. A. Ashokan), his enemy, plans to win over Kanchipuram, and sends Poovikraman (M. R. Radha) and Chola Kumari (Bhanumathi) to Kanchi. As per his evil plans, Poovikraman works in disguise as a sculptor in Kanchi and Chola Kumari as an official. Paranjothi (S. S. Rajendran) arrests Chola Kumari and takes her to the court of Mamallan, where the Pallava King treats her with respect and sets her free. Mamallan also ends up falling in love with Chola Kumari.

In the meantime, Mamallan’s friend Manavaraman (the king of Sri Lanka) loses his crown and seeks the Pallava king’s help and leaves for Kanchi to get help from his friend. Unfortunately, the ship is wrecked and his family is separated.

After many twists and turns, the various problems, both personal and political, are solved, and the Pallava king weds the Chola Kumari. Mamallan’s sister (Vijayakumari) falls in love with Paranjothi, but she dies in an explosion intended to kill her brother.

Despite the stellar cast and the high-flown Tamil dialogue and lyrics by Karunanidhi, Kanchi Thalaivan did not fare as well as expected, and had only a limited run—for seven weeks or so. The film’s script, screenplay and lyrics were by Karunanidhi. T. A. Mathuram acted in a supporting role, shortly after the demise of her husband, the legendary N. S. Krishnan, in 1957.

Music was by K. V. Mahadevan. The film has as many as 10 songs, and some of them, like ‘Oru kodiyil iru malargal’ (T. M. Soundararajan and P. Suseela), ‘Mayangatha manamyavum’ (P. Bhanumathi), and ‘Velga naadu velga velgavey’ (C. S. Jayaraman), were hits.

Remembered for: The impressive performances of MGR, Bhanumathi, SSR, M. R. Radha, and Vijayakumari, and songs like ‘Velga naadu…’

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 2:27:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/kanchi-thalaivan-1963/article7980438.ece

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