blast from the past Cinema

Shanthi Nilayam 1969

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Gemini Ganesan, Kanchana, Nagesh, Manjula, V.S. Raghavan, K. Balajee, K.Vijayan, ‘Master’ Sekhar, ‘Master’ Prabhakar, K.V. Srinivasan, Senthamarai, Pandari Bai, Sundari Bai, Ramaprabha, Rojaramani and Seethalakshmi

Shanthi Nilayam was produced and directed by G.S. Mani, S.S. Vasan’s son-in-law. The script, screenplay and dialogue were by ‘Chitralaya’ Gopu.

Though it is believed that this movie is an adaptation of the mega hit The Sound of Music (1965), it is actually an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre, with some elements of the movie thrown in. There are now big plans in Hollywood to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, which made so much money that some critics called it ‘Sound of Money’. Interestingly, it was this movie’s director Robert Wise who edited Orson Welles’ all-time classic, Citizen Kane. Music naturally was the main factor behind the success of The Sound of Music which was ‘adapted’ in several Indian languages like Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil. The Hindi version, titled Parichay, had Jeetendra and Jaya Bhaduri in the lead which was also a big hit. In all these versions, music played a great role, just like it did in English.

The Sound of Music is based on the true story of a Jewish family in Austria, which after being subjected to a lot of problems due to the rise of Hitler’s Nazism, plans to migrate to the United States. The Von Trapp Family, as they were known, inspired the English movie. Gemini Ganesan and Kanchana play the lead roles in Shanthi Nilayam. Gemini as the father of many kids and Kanchana as the governess are excellent. The children are played by Ramaprabha, Manjula, and Prabhakar.

Pandari Bai plays the rich aunt and Nagesh as her son provides the laughs. K. Balajee plays the villain who blackmails the hero’s father (V.S. Raghavan), for having murdered his servant (K.V. Srinivasan), and later, the hero. The villain and hero indulge in well-choreographed fights and the scene that has the mentally deranged first wife of the hero setting fire is well shot. M.S. Viswanathan composed the music, and the Kannadasan penned the lyrics. T.M. Soundararajan, S.P. Balasubramaniam and P. Susheela are among the singers.

One of the highlights is the film’s cinematography. Not surprisingly, cameraman Marcus Bartley won a National Award for Best Cinematography for his work in this film. Shanthi Nilayam ran for more than hundred days in many centres — the hallmark of success of an Indian film. The film was expertly edited by Gemini Studios’ Umanath.

Remembered for: the interesting storyline, excellent performances, brilliant cinematography and pleasing music.

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Printable version | Nov 17, 2018 6:33:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/shanthi-nilayam-1969/article7043353.ece

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