Nikolai Gogol, one of the icons of Russian Literature, is known for his short stories and the play, ‘Inspector-General' (also known as ‘Government Inspector'). Wanting to write a play, he sought the help of Pushkin, another icon, who told him about his personal experience when he was mistaken for a government officer on a visit to a small town. Based on this premise, Gogol wrote the play, in which a person visiting a village is taken to be the Inspector-General who was expected to investigate the fraudulent affairs of the village chief. Trying to soft-soap him, the village chief and others treat him like a king, even allowing him to flirt with his wife and daughter. He takes advantage of them all and then scared he might be exposed, leaves the village after being given a grand send off. It's then that the real ‘IG' comes to investigate the fraudulent affairs of the chief!
This play has been adapted in many languages. In Inspector-General , Danny Kaye, the comedian singing star of Hollywood, played the lead, and the movie was a big success. Noted filmmaker Chetan Anand wrote and directed a film, Afsar (Officer), in 1950, with his brother Dev Anand and Suraiya playing the lead roles. Interestingly in the credits, the story is attributed to Chetan Anand and Gogol!
In 1965, the intellectual Hindi filmmaker, actor and producer I. S. Johar made Namaste in which two people come to a village and change places which leads to more fun!
Well-known Tamil playwright, writer and occasional filmmaker B. S. Ramaiah adapted it to the stage as ‘President Panchatcharam', put on board by S. V. Sahasranamam. It became popular and producer and studio-owner AL. Srinivasan produced the movie version, bankrolling the project of his friends V. Arunachalam and well-known orator Chinna Annamalai. The film was President Panchatcharam .
A District Board president (Sahasranamam) has a lovely daughter (Saroja Devi) studying in Madras. He and his wife have in their minds different young men as prospective husbands for her. But the young woman falls in love with her friend Sikhamani (Rajendran)!
The two aspiring bridegrooms come to the small town to fix the marriage. At that time, the president receives a letter that the government is sending an officer to secretly investigate his fraudulent affairs! The daughter's lover who leaves home arrives to meet her, and he is mistaken for the official! The fun starts and after many complications, true love triumphs…
Besides Saroja Devi, Rajendran and Sahasranamam in major roles, the others who contributed to the interesting development of the story included S. N. Lakshmi, T. R. Ramachandran, Chanthini, ‘Kuladeivam' Rajagopal, Kumudhini and Balasubramaniam. There was also a dance sequence by Sayee-Subbulakshmi who were active at that time.
Written by B. S. Ramaiah, the film was directed by A. Bhim Singh. The music was composed by G. Ramanathan.
The lyrics were by Subramania Bharati, Kannadasan, Ku. Ma. Balasubramaniam and others. T. M. Soundararajan, Sirgazhi Govindarajan, P. B. Sreenivos, M. L. Vasanthakumari, (Radha) Jayalakshmi, P. Susheela, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi and Jamuna Rani sang the songs.
There was also a musical play in the film based on V. O. Chidambaram Pillai.
President Panchatcharam was a success at the box office.
Remembered for: the interesting screenplay and good performances by Sahasranamam, Rajendran and Saroja Devi.