Cinema

Mohanasundaram 1951

music, a highpoint Mohanasundaram

music, a highpoint Mohanasundaram  

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T. R. Mahalingam, S. Varalakshmi, B. R. Panthulu, K. Sarangapani, V. K. Ramasami, T. K. Ramachandran, J. P. Chandra Babu, K. Sayiram, V. K. Karthikeyan, ‘Kottapuli' Jayaraman, V. Susheela, K.S. Angamuthu, G. Sakunthala, C.V.V. Panthulu, ‘Jayakodi' K. Natarajan, S. K. Venubai, S. R. Lakshmi, V. Thiruvengadam, K. S. Hariharan and ‘Kumari' Kamala (dance).

During the early decades of the 20th Century, ‘Detective Fiction' was a popular genre in modern Tamil Literature. There were four writers who dominated the field — Vaduvoor K. Duraiswami Ayyangar, being the most famous of them all, J. R. Rangaraju, Arani Kuppuswami Mudaliar and the only female writer in that group, Vai. Mu. Kothainayaki Ammal.

Ayyangar wrote several novels, each running to several parts and almost all of them were bestsellers such as ‘Kumbakonam Vakil', which was later filmed by Modern Theatres' T.R. Sundaram as Digambara Samiyar. He was perhaps the first writer in Tamil to have made a comfortable living through writing, a profession that even in the best of times has always been highly insecure! Lulled by his success, Ayyangar attempted to write books in English, which landed him in disaster. After many years, his detective novels are now being reprinted and quite popular, especially with the older generation.

“Mohanasundaram” was one of his popular novels. It was filmed by the singing star of the Forties and Fifties, T. R. Mahalingam. He began his film career as a child artiste in Nandakumar (1938), jointly produced by AV. Meiyappan and noted Marathi cameraman-director Keshav Rao Dhaibhar. Sri Valli (1945), the AVM hit, conferred on him hero status which he enjoyed for some years. Later, he played minor roles like that of Sage Narada. His voice could reach the higher octaves with ease and resembled that of the legendary star of Tamil theatre, S. G. Kittappa.

Mohanasundaram was directed by writer, director and producer A.T. Krishnaswami. Popularly known as ‘ATK', he was very talented but somehow did not get the recognition he deserved. He made several successful films such as Sabapathi, Manam Oru Kurangu (Cho's hit play) and Arivali (his most remembered film, which was an adaptation of the popular Shakespearean drama, ‘The Taming of the Shrew'. Earlier, he had staged it as a play titled, “Oh! What a Girl!”)

Mohan Mudaliar (Ramasami) and Sundaram Mudaliar (Panthulu) are partners in a private banking firm. Sundaram has a motherless daughter Visalakshy (Varalakshmi) who falls in love with her orphaned cousin Bhoopathi (Mahalingam). She learns music from an attractive teacher (Susheela) and Sundaram falls in love with her and neglects the bank. He even marries her, unaware that she has a husband serving a term in prison! Taking advantage of such a situation, Mohan begins to swindle the bank aided by his crooked assistant (Karthikeyan). Soon the teacher manipulates the family and succeeds in sending away Bhoopathi. Meanwhile, on being released from prison, the teacher's first husband plans revenge against her. A murder and a robbery take place in the bank... The murder victim is assumed to be Sundaram but he had been kidnapped earlier by another enemy (Ramachandran)! Who was murdered? Govindan, the amateur detective, (‘Jayakodi' Natarajan) takes over and using his bag of tricks solves the murder and the robbery, and the happy couple is united in the end….

The film had pleasing music (composer T. G. Lingappa, lyrics K. D. Santhanam). Some songs rendered as duets by Mahalingam and Varalakshmi became quite popular. Chandra Babu sang a ‘westernised' song ‘Hullo my dear darling…' containing many words in English, which attracted attention.

Susheela was active for some years but soon faded from public memory. V. K. Karthikeyan made a mark in the AVM hit, Naam Iruvar. But today, very few remember him.

In spite of the interesting storyline and melodious music, the film was only an average success.

Remembered for the interesting storyline and pleasing songs.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 3:01:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/mohanasundaram-1951/article2096231.ece

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