Ratnapuri Ilavarasi (1960)

T.R. Mahalingam, M.R. Radha, M.V. Rajamma, E.V. Saroja, Sasi-Kala (Madras Sisters), Kushala Kumari, C.V.V. Panthulu, T.V. Sethuraman, G. Pattu Iyer, ‘Ennathey’ Kannaiah, S.A. Asokan, Padmini Priyadarshini, ‘Gemini’ Chandra, Jyothi, Sayiram, Mallika, Mohana, Natarajan, Swami, C.S. Saroja, Ambika , Balakrishnan and Satyamurthi

Updated - July 19, 2014 07:47 pm IST

Published - July 19, 2014 07:46 pm IST

Rathnapuri Ilavarasi

Rathnapuri Ilavarasi

Ramanna (original name T.R. Ramachandran) began his career as a sound recordist. A brother of the glamorous south Indian star T.R. Rajakumari, he made quick progress and soon became a director. With the help of a generous spinster sister, he promoted R.R. Pictures (the two ‘R’s being their initials) and made several films under this banner in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, quite a few proving a hit at the box office.

With friends like Muniratnam, he promoted other banners such as Sri Vinayaka Pictures under which he made the mass entertainer Ratnapuri Ilavarasi . He cast his wife E.V. Saroja and singing star T.R. Mahalingam in the lead, with a spectacular cast consisting of all the big names of the sixties, including cult villain M.R. Radha.

The screen story and dialogues were by Thuraiyur K. Murthi, a close associate and writer for most of his films, and K. Shanmugam, with the film built around Radha as ambitious evildoer. The lyrics were by Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram, who sadly passed away before the film’s release.

The music was composed by Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, then making their way up the ladder and ultimately to become icons of film music. The playback songs were by T.M. Soundararajan, Tiruchi Loganathan, P. Susheela, P. Leela, Jamuna Rani, A.P. Komala and S. Janaki (credited as ‘Janaki’ here; in some early films, she was credited as ‘Nellore Janaki’, Nellore being the hometown of husband Vaidyula Prasad.)

The film had quite a few song-and-dance numbers performed by Sasi-Kala, Padmini Priyadarshini, Kushala Kumari, Chandra and others; and choreographed by B.S. Murthi, P.S. Gopalakrishnan and Dhandapani Pillai.

The story revolves around Nandivarman (Radha), a close relative of the king. He is convinced that the world and especially women have been created for fun and frolic. He is imprisoned but escapes and spends his life roaming around for 15 years, and seducing a dancer whom he wins in a competition. He also acquires control over a small kingdom whose citizens he exploits for his benefit and pleasure, but finally he does meet his deserved end.

Radha lives the role in his ebullient style. The 60s were the period when he was invariably cast in every other film and carried most of them on his shoulders.

T.R. Mahalingam played the rather subdued hero, supported by E.V. Saroja and veterans such as M.V. Rajamma, C.V.V. Panthulu, S.A. Asokan and G. Pattu Iyer, and comedians such as Sayeeram and Kannaiah. Despite the impressive cast and outstanding performance by Radha, the film was not a box-office success.

T.K. Rajabathar, another brother of Rajakumari and Ramanna, photographed the film, which was shot at Vijaya-Vauhini and at Vikram Studios (owned by the multilingual filmmaker B.S. Ranga).

Remembered for: The fine performance of M.R. Radha, the racy on-screen narration by Ramanna and the song-and-dance routines.

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