Udayanan Vasavadatta 1946

stood out for cinematography Udayanan Vasavadatta

stood out for cinematography Udayanan Vasavadatta  

On a Festival Day in 1944, M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar released the famous ad on the front page of The Hindu. The ad showed him seated on a white horse with twinkling stars around him inside which titles of movies he was making appeared. Regrettably, except Haridas, none of the films saw the light of a projector. One such movie was Udayanan Vasavadatta announced with MKT and Vasundhara Devi as the lead pair. Vasundhara was then at the height of her fame with two major hits to her credit — Rishya Shringar and Mangamma Sapatham. After the songs were recorded and some reels shot, Bhagavathar was arrested in December 1945 for his alleged involvement in the sensational Lakshmikantham Murder Case. He spent 30 long, agonising months in prison and was released during mid-1947.

The portions shot had to be abandoned and the film was remade with Carnatic musician G. N. Balasubramaniam, a legend in his lifetime and after, as the hero and Vasundhara as the heroine.

RM. Ramanathan Chettiar, a wealthy Naattukottai Nagarathar, had an avid interest in movies and was a close friend of Bhagavathar and one of the founders of Newtone Studio in Kilpauk, Madras (Now the Rajaji School functions on that site). He also had a lively interest in audiography and often worked as a recordist in his films. He produced films under his banner Uma Pictures and this film was directed by the noted filmmaker of the day, T. R. Raghunath.

King Udayanan is such an expert in playing the veena that he can tame even wild elephants with his music! Lord Indra gifts him a divine elephant, which leaves him because of a mistake he commits. Shocked, he goes in search of it. A rival king lures him with an elephant made of ‘maragatham', (a precious stone) and imprisons him! Meanwhile, he meets a princess, Vasavadatta (Vasundhara). The two fall in love and face many problems. While Udayanan goes in search of the divine elephant, he leaves his heartthrob in another kingdom where she teaches music and dance under a different name. He is faced with more problems as a rival king takes over his kingdom. After many crises, he succeeds in putting down his enemies. The lovers marry, and once again, happiness returns to their lives. Based on the story by Raja Chandrasekhar (Raghunath's brother and noted director of the day), Udayanan Vasavadatta had dialogue penned by Udayakumar and the up-and-coming screenwriter and filmmaker A. S. A. Sami.

GNB and Vasundhara, an accomplished musician, sang many songs, including duets (music: C. R. Subburaman; lyrics: Papanasam Sivan and Kambadasan). Vasundhara in disguise performs dance numbers choreographed by V. B. Ramaiah Pillai, with Kamini Kumar Sinha composing the Kathak, Manipuri and Punjabi sequences.

The film had artistic photography (Marcus Bartley), while the noted art director F. Nagoor designed the sets. The costumes were by M. Natesan who later became a producer and made quite a few movies, featuring MGR ( Mannadhi Mannan), Gemini Ganesh ( Aasai) and Sivaji Ganesan ( Anbu).

A. Kasilingam was one of the editors who later graduated to direction with successful films to his credit.

Despite GNB, Vasundhara, pleasing music, dance, sets and costumes, the film did not fare well at the box office.

Remembered for GNB's captivating songs, Vasundhara's dances and excellent cinematography.

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