Travancore Sisters From left, Padmini, Lalitha and Ragini. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangement

Sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, popular as the Travancore Sisters, enriched Indian cinema with their dances and acting. It was usual to include their dances in films and they often turned out to be the highpoints of the films. Producer and director Sreeramulu Naidu introduced the Travancore Sisters to Malayalam cinema through Prasanna, released on August 17, 1950. The film was a huge hit.

The film also introduced an array of artistes to Malayalam cinema like Kandiyoor Parameswarankutty, P. A. Thomas, Pappukutty Bhagavathar etc. This was also the debut Malayalam film of T. S. Baliah and T. S. Durairaj; playback singers M. L. Vasantha Kumari, P.A. Periyanayaki and Radha-Jayalakshmi. This was also the first Malayalam film of music composer Gnanamani and producer-director Sreeramulu Naidu. The script and dialogues were by the renowned playwright Munshi Paramu Pillai.

Following the success of this film producer-director N. S. Krishnan made the Tamil film Manamakal (1951) based on the stage play Suprabha, written by Munshi Paramu Pillai. Krishnan cast T. S. Baliah, Lalitha and Padmini in his film. With powerful dialogues written by M. Karunanidhi, Manamakal became an all time hit.

Pankan Thampi (Kandiyoor Parameswarankutty), a doctor, lives with his sister Prasanna (Lalitha) in a village. Ayyappan (T. S. Baliah) son of Thampi’s old servant and Prasanna study in the same college. Ayyappan is in love with Prasanna but does not express his feelings. Thampi’s friend Radhakrishna Menon (Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair), who lives in Trichy, has two sisters Madanika (Padmini) and Radha (Radhamani). Thampi and Menon decide to strengthen their relations. Thampi decides to marry Madanika and Menon decides to marry Prasanna. Ayyappan is shocked by the marriage plan attempts suicide. Prasanna sympathises with the desperate lover and marries Ayyappan against the wishes of her brother.

Ayyappan leaves the village with Prasanna and reaches Trichy. Ayyappan’s friend Pappu Pillai (T. S. Durairaj) and his wife Kalyani (Kanchana) also accompany them. Ayyappan and Pappu Pillai are arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in a petty case. They are freed by the kind Inspector (P. A. Thomas). Kalyani takes up a job as a maid in the Inspector’s house. Prasanna gets employed as a maid in Radhakrishna Menon’s house. Menon does not know that his servant is Thampi’s sister with whom his marriage was fixed. Menon takes a liking for her. But Prasanna, faithful to her husband, rejects his advances. Ayyappan becomes suspicious of his wife and hits the bottle. Kalyani and Prasanna talk to Menon who now regards Prasanna as his own sister. But Ayyappan remains suspicious. Menon’s sister Radha informs Thampi about Prasanna’s miserable family life. Thampi reaches Trichy and his shocked by his sister’s miserable plight. Thampi and Ayyappan get into a brawl. Menon intervenes. Reconciliation takes place and misunderstanding cleared.

A musical hit, most of the songs written by Abhayadev and tuned by Gnanamani, became super hits. For the first time in Malayalam cinema a song, Jaathi vairam neethi rahidhamee… (M. L. Vasantha Kumari) was composed in Western style. Other hits include Klanikathe Keralamathe…(Kaviyoor Revamma), Dhavala roopa Saraswathi….(Radha-

Jayalakshmi), Ganamohana Hare Gopala…(Vasantha Kumari), and Sneham thookum maathey….(P. A. Periyanayaki).

Will be remembered: As the début Malayalam film of the Travancore Sisters, Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini. As the debut film of actors Kandiyoor Parameshwarankutty, P. A. Thomas, Pappukkutty Bhagavathar, debut Malayalam film of Sreeramulu Naidu, playback singers M. L. Vasantha Kumari, P. A. Periyanayiki and Radha-Jayalakshmi.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 10:12:23 AM |

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