Blast from the past Cinema

Raja Rani (1956)

Raja Rani (1956)
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Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, S. S. Rajendran, Rajasulochana, N.S. Krishnan, T.A. Mathuram, and ‘Appa’ K. Duraiswami

After the historic success of Parasakthi which stood out for Sivaji Ganesan’s delivery of high-flown, alliterative dialogue in Tamil written by Mu. Karunanidhi, many producers came up with movies that made use of the skills of the actor and the dialogue writer. One such film was Raja Rani. Sivaji and Padmini played the leads, and were supported by another star actor who also made a mark in a minor role in Parasakthi — S.S. Rajendran. The film was directed by A. Bhim Singh. T.R. Papa composed the music and the lyrics were by Mu. Karunanidhi, A. Marutha Kasi, M.K. Atmanathan, Villiputhan, K.P. Kamakshi and Vivekan. The songs were sung by A.M. Raja, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, M.L. Vasanthakumari, Jikki, T. V. Ratnam, Ganasaraswathi and S.C. Krishnan. A song by MLV, ‘Manipura… Puthu Manipura’ proved a hit. ‘Sirippu… Ithan sirappai’, also a huge hit, was a meaningful song by NSK about the role of laughter in life (lyrics: A. Marudhakasi). In the song, he explains the different kinds of laughter, acting them out in his inimitable way. There was another interesting song, ‘Houseful’, sung by MLV and filmed on Rani, encouraging people to buy tickets. Raja Rani was shot at the famous (now closed) Newtone Studios in the Kilpauk area. Its owners were Dinshaw K. Tehrani and Jiten Bannerjee, who supervised the audiography and cinematography respectively. G. Vittal Rao handled the camera. The dances were choreographed by Hiralal and Sampathkumar.

The film had an interesting but somewhat complicated storyline. Rani (Padmini) is the only daughter of an impoverished, visually challenged man (Duraiswami). Her hunt for a job ends when she is engaged as a box office window ticket vendor at a drama company by its owner Babu (Rajendran). Unfortunately, during a play, some gangsters rob Rani of the day’s collection, drug her and escape with the booty. The evil-minded Babu who turns up later tries to take advantage of Rani’s condition. However, she escapes from him and jumps into Raja’s (Sivaji) car, falling unconscious in the rear seat. Raja, meanwhile, is the owner of an electrical goods company with a passion for theatre and is the lead player in Babu’s drama troupe. Unaware of the turn of events, Raja reaches home. He is surprised to find a girl in his car. Then he comes across a news item that a rich man’s daughter named Leela has run away from home. He thinks the girl in the car is Leela! Pretending to be Leela, Rani starts acting in the drama troupe. The two fall in love. Raja then launches his own drama company and stages Socrates, playing the lead. Babu tries to wreck the love of Raja and Rani, and so adds real poison to the drink to be given to Raja in the famous scene that has Socrates drinking poison! How the lovers get united forms the rest of the film.

Sivaji as Raja and Padmini as Rani gave excellent performances. Sivaji’s dialogue delivery in the stage play, written by Mu. Ka., was the major attraction.

Remembered For: the alliterative dialogue of Mu. Karunanidhi and delivery by the legendary Sivaji Ganesan, pleasing music and fine performances of Padimini, SSR and others.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2018 9:14:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/raja-rani-1956/article7092701.ece

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