Murder mysteries and detective stories have not been exploited as a genre in Tamil Cinema for reasons not very clear. Occasionally, a movie gets made by filmmakers such as S. Balachandar, but the number is quite small when compared to the immense output of films over the decades since Cinema began to talk Tamil in 1931 with Kalidas .
A surprise package was Oru Viral , a murder mystery made in 1965 on a small budget with artistes who were then new or not so well-known. In spite of it all, the film was a success, thanks to the storyline and the way it was narrated on-screen.
It was written and directed by C.M.V. Raman under the supervision of P.S. Murthi. The cast included the pencil-thin comedian and character actor Krishna Rao who came to be known as ‘Oru Viral’ Krishna Rao. Another new entrant was ‘Thengai’ Srinivasan who went on to play lead roles in some movies. ‘Malaysia’ Radhika and Thilakam were fairly active for some time in Tamil Cinema, but did not make it to the top. (Radhika went back to her homeland and was successful as a dancer).
The music was composed by the noted tunesmith of his day Vedha and the lyrics were by Alangudi Somu who wrote many popular songs in several Tamil films.
Oru Viral narrated the suspense story of two skeletons, one with a missing finger, and hence the title! It’s a tale of two brothers, sons of a rich man who is murdered right in the beginning of the film, and the hunt for the killer. Stories of a haunting skeleton circulate in the estate owned by the murdered man. An employee of the estate (Kannan), who is actually a convict on the run, is being chased by a detective (Srinivasan) who takes up a job in the estate to keep tabs on him.
Salvador Fernandez, also a newcomer, produced the film after which he seems to have faded from the industry. Artistes such as Prem Anand and Pandarinath lent support. Two songs, ‘Malligai Mottu’ by P. Susheela and ‘Vun Thevai’ by Susheela and T.M. Soundararajan, became popular.
Oru Viral did well at the box office and the title is still remembered even after four decades.It also became the prefix of comedian Krishna Rao's name. He was lanky and his dialogue delivery was well-timed.
Remembered For the interesting storyline and impressive performances by ‘Thengai’ Srinivasan, ‘Oru Viral’ Krishna Rao, Kannan, Prem Anand, Pandarinath, Radhika and Thilakam, and the good background score.
‘Oru Viral’ Krishna Rao (debut), ‘Thengai’ Srinivasan (debut), ‘Kavarchi Villain’ K. Kannan, Prem Anand, Pandarinath, ‘Malaysia’ Radhika, V.R. Thilakam and Meenakumari.